Carving a Ski Sign

We recently did a ski sign for a family, and it was such an interesting and fun little project I wanted to write about it, even though we are thinking more about baseball than skiing at this time of year!

This carved sign was a “thank you gift” from one family to another and I really wanted to create a sign that captured a “snowy” and “carefree” kind of feel.

The image to the left is the proof that I sent to the customer.


This is what the 3D model looks like in my modeling software ArtCAM Pro.


OK, so this is what the sign actually looks like once we get into the process of carving it. We use our ShopBot to do all of our carving, and each tool-path used to carve a feature of a sign is fed into the software item by item, and then is sent to the router, item-by-item.


Now just because “a machine does it”, does not mean that we sit back all day playing video games. Creating a 3D model like the one for the skis takes about 2 hours (and that’s not including the lettering toolpaths).

Here is what the sign looks like after the lettering and in-line are carved. We used a 90 degree V-Carving bit for this. Then it has been cut out creating the external shape. Now I need to do a bit of sanding, and it will be off to the paint-shop for this little guy.


Here is the ski sign after it has been primed and painted.


The Sign Prime that we use is a water-based primer (we only use oil based primers when we are working with wood) and we are going to follow up the water based primer with a water based paint.

The paint that we put on the majority of our signs is a Latex Outdoor Acrylic Latex Paint, and is the best quality paint that we can possibly buy. I would say the majority of signs (created in other sign shops) are painted with Oil-Based enamel paints, but Lincoln Sign Company has been using latex paints over 20 years with fantastic results. There are signs that have been out in the field for 5-7 years that we have done that still look as if they had just been painted. One of the things that we pride ourselves on as a company is creating signs that last a long, long time.

In this picture our ski sign has been “lettered”.


If you think that hand-painting carved letters and consistently staying within the lines takes a certain amount of skill,…. it does. I’m not the one who does it, it is usually Vicki or Michelle at this point, and we have plans to get some other people trained to do it as well… I have done it in a pinch…

For the lettering of our carved signs we use 1-Shot or (One-Shot) Paints. These are the paints that every sign-maker has in their paint cabinet, and they are what we use whenever we hand-letter a sign. The differ from the latex mainly because they have a smooth, glossy finish that levels out very well while drying, and they tend to be thicker so are easier to letter with.

We will need to hit the letters with 2 coats (as we do just about everything with at least two coats). The background blue on the sign actually ended up getting about 3 or 4 until we were happy with it.

Here is the ski sign completed and out of the shop. Vicki painted the snow with a combination of blue and white, and was able to get a significant amount of detail in on the skis.sns2_8sns2_9

We really enjoy doing custom residential signs like this as it is wonderful to think that something we made will become an integral part of a legacy of someone’s home. This sign could be the first thing a person sees after getting home from work each day, the signal to someone that has a vacation home that they have arrived at their vacation destination, or just a wonderful little reminder to a ski enthusiast that even though it is August 15th and 98 degrees, one day soon there will be snow again.

Those are the reasons that we make signs like these…

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