I wanted to test out my CNC machine with polycarbonate (I couldn't get hold of any acrylic) and so I came up with this project.
There are loads of illuminated signs like this on the internet and this is my addition!
I'm using Casey Neistat's signature slogan "DO MORE" as the illuminated part of my sign and an elegant white oak base to house the LEDs and mount the letters to.
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Step 1: Cutting the Acrylic/Polycarbonate
So I started this project in illustrator trying to decide on what font to use. I went through a couple and ended up with this slab font pictured above.
I created the text in illustrator and then created outlines of the letters and exported as an svg file.
This .svg could then be opened in a browser based program called makercam which generates Gcode for my cnc machine.
Step 2: Frosting the Acrylic/Polycarb
Once the pieces are cut out and the edges are de-burred and the sharp edge is knocked off I used some fine sand paper to make some very fine scratches on the surface of the plastic. I used 600 and 800 grit to create a very dense scratch pattern so that you can not see scratch lines. As you can see from the first few images it didn't work quite to plan as when I was attaching the letters to the wood they got quite scuffed up. This can be avoided with more care than I used in later steps.
I recommend using water on the paper to float away the dust whilst sanding and thus keeping the abrasive clear so it can continue to sand the surface.
Step 3: Cutting an Undercut Into the Base
Next, to have a place to put the LED strip I am planning to use and to have it so that the diodes on the strip are directly beneath the plastic letters I used a dovetail router bit in my router to cut the profile shown in the photo.
Step 4: Tapering Edges and Finishing Front Face of Wood
I then cut the ends of the piece of white oak that I am using as the base for this project. I cut them on my mitre saw very slowly to give an accurate and smooth finish.
On the subject of finishing I did the finishing touches to the front face of the oak with a cabinet scraper and some fine sandpaper until it looked good as in the picture above. Then justt some teak oil to make the grain pop and protect the wood a bit.
Step 5: LEDs
Next I got a strip of RGB leds and cut them to the length of the oak base using a stanley knife along the nearest cut point marked on the strip. I then used the adhesive backing to attach it into the cutout in the oak as shown above.
Step 6: Attaching the Letters
I used thick super glue to attach the letters to the frame a little bead near the bottom of the letter and I used a set square to perfectly align each letter perpendicular to the oak. I then just used a hand plane to apply some clamping pressure to help the CA make a good bond.
Step 7: Finishing the Ends
After the CA had dried and I too a look at it for the first time I wasn't happy with the ends so I cut two small pieces of white oak and glued them onto the 45 degree ends then planed, scraped and sanded them flush and smooth and then re applied some teak oil.
Step 8: Finished!
Last thing to do is wire it all up and test it out! these pics are without the leds on, the picture above in my workshop with the normal lamp as a back light looked pretty cool in my opinion!