Monday, July 26, 2021

Learning: Framing for a wood sign (Part 2)

After considering some options, and doing some testing, I decided upon my type of framing for wooden signs. First, the wood I chose was pine that measures .5” thick, .75” wide, and in this case, 8’ in length. The style of frame is called a box frame which does not require mitering or angle cuts. The top will span the length of the sign width plus the width of two sides, and sides will be the length 5.5” of the sign sides minus the thickness of both pieces. So an 18” wide sign, with 5.5” width, will have two pieces measuring 4.5” and two pieces measuring 19”.

From looking at lots of videos, it seems everyone uses a pneumatic nail gun to assemble their frames. However, I neither have space nor the inclination to have such a powerful and expensive tool in my possession. Therefore, I needed to come up with a different solution. After lots of testing, I determined that gluing will work well as long as: the frame is properly supported, and the glue is allowed to set while being clamped in place. Speaking of clamps, I purchased what is called “90 degrees, 200lb. corner clamps with 3” jaw opening” (by Dewalt) from Home Depot. These types of clamps sometimes come in sets of 4, but in this case, I purchased 4 separate clamps due to the solid metal construction I desired (lifetime warranty).


Realizing that glue alone would not be enough, but not wanting to drive either finish nails or staples into the wood of the front or sides, I decided on an approach that used 1/16” cardboard corner stiffeners that were glued and stapled (from behind) to the frame. Since the clamps are quite large, and frame corners are very near one another, I found that I could not do all 4 corners together. Therefore, I chose to connect 2 sides with 2 tops. When dried, I could now do the same and then marry the subassemblies together to finish 2 frames. The finished product looks very clean, is quite solid, and cardboard corner stiffeners provide a nice base for gluing or foam taping an inserted sign. 


One caveat to be aware of: I made the mistake, on my first attempt, to trust the dimensional integrity of the wood. In reality, it’s best to allow a minimum of 1/16" extra space around the edges to allow for wood size variation. I found some craft panels (pre-cut to size) for example to vary as much as 1/8”. So the standard woodworking mantra of “measure twice, cut once” truly does apply.

Gluing frame sides using corner clamp; 
finished frame, glued and stapled, with corner cardboard stiffeners

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Learning‌:‌ ‌Easier vinyl weeding when words are small and crowded

After designing a creative block of words that both literally and visually express the feeling of highly caffeinated coffee beverages, I set out to first export my .svg files, cut and weed the vinyl, burnish them onto my transfer tape, and then finally position these words onto my sign. I knew the weeding might be a bit challenging as the many thin letters wreak havoc when peeling away the vinyl. Upon my first attempt, I lost about 4 letters and needed to cut additional vinyl for those letters or words. The main issue was not the peeling away from the backing paper. Inevitably, the excess vinyl that builds up as you weed will get stuck to the surface of some lettering and pull it up. Even though I’m aware of cutting away the excess during the process to minimize this problem, I realized my eyes could only see a limited scope of the detail as I pulled away from the cuts. I was attempting to weed, in one piece of vinyl, a 5" x 11" block of 11 words of varying sizes, shapes, thicknesses, and directions.

It’s funny, but when I say it now, I realize how ridiculous this idea sounds. But at the time, I was too anxious to see the vinyl on my beautifully oak stained pine board. After giving it some thought, I came to the conclusion that the main issue was simply attempting to keep my eyes on too many characters in one attempt. Therefore, in order to maintain the layout and spacing, I used my x-acto blade to slice the vinyl surface between each word. When weeding, I would now be able to focus on one set of characters at a time and eliminate, or at least lessen, the problem. This is a simple principle so clearly emphasized by a character named Dr. Charles Emerson Winchester III from an old television show named M.A.S.H. His philosophy for success was always very simple: Do one thing at a time, do it very well, and then move on.