Sign Making

Lincoln Logs ... J.D. Isles writes about happenings in his sign shop.

He shares techniques and his thoughts about the sign business, CNC and software.J.D.'s Lincoln Sign Company is in Lincoln NH, where he builds signs between runs down the ski slopes. [Go to J.D.'s Lincoln Logs]

CNC in the Sign Shop

ShopBot CNCs are used in sign making for 3D carving, V-bit carving, profile contouring, fluting and engraving - in wood, foam, plastic and aluminum. Sign makers can now take full advantage of the CNC process by cutting their own channel letter components, frames, posts and borders in-house.

Going 3D

A CNC router has become the tool of choice for sign makers moving beyond printers and vinyl cutters. These tools, linked to sign design software, have become the central component of many shops, small and large. ShopBot has led the way in making CNC affordable for small shops, and the ease of integration of our tools into your design and production operations is unequaled.

Full 3D cutting capabilities allow cutting and machining of practically anything, allowing your company to offer a distinctive look not possible with conventional sandblasted designs. Furthermore, if you do create sandblasted signs, you can cut the sign blank & lightly engrave the sign surface for easy alignment of your masking material using the same vector artwork used to cut the mask.

Click here to learn about adding 3D carving to your CNC Sign Work.

Sign making Software

A CNC router also allows you to create your own prismatic and isoformed letters, giving you complete control over lead times and the design process.  Sign makers are no longer limited in the scale of their signs by the mechanical limits of their CNC.  A number of CAD/CAM packages are now available that let you panel or slice any 2D or 3D project into manageable components that can be machined with a few clicks of the mouse.  Advanced nesting capabilities also help you to save on material waste and boost profits.

Some of the sign makers using ShopBots

Blue Ridge Fabrication, Larry & Jessica Holbrook - Jasper, GA
www.blueridgefabrication.com, Nationwide Providers of Custom CNC Routed & Sandblasted HDU Signs.

Salt Water Workshop, Jim Shula - Buxton, ME
www.SaltWaterWorkshop.com, Designs and cuts carved signs and CNC-routed parts for businesses and individuals in Maine and beyond.

Balch Signs, The Balches - Malta, NY
www.balchsigns.com, Dimensional and carved signage, decals, shirts and banners.

Chapman Design Studio, Raymond Chapman - Temple, TX
ChapmanStudio@sbcglobal.net, Award winning dimensional signs. See articles about Ray in Features > ShopBotters In the News.

Lincoln Sign Company, J.D. Iles - Lincoln, NH
www.lincolnsign.com, Wooden Carved, Dimensional & Sandblasted Signs for all of New England and Beyond

SignsAlive.net, Mark Di Saverio - Titusville, FL
www.signsalive.net, Custom carved dimensional wood and high-density urethane foam signage and also engraving on plastic and metal

Norman Sign Company, Joe Crumley - Norman, OK
www.normansignco.com, Quality Signage

Express Sign Works, Andy Newcomb - Indian Trail, NC
5803 West Highway 74, 28079, Sign shop that has just added CNC cutting to sign making capabilities

West Coast Sign Company, Erik Gastelum - San Diego, CA
www.westcoastsignco.com, Specialists in Electric Signs and Banners

AGM Sign Company, Chad Galloway - Sapphire, NC
www.agmsigncompany.com/, Custom and Professional Signs

Please contact us if you would like to be added to this page

A Recommended Sign making System

Hardware: A PRSalpha 96-60 (standard 4x8 sheet size) works well for most sign shops.  Because a lot of sign cutting is usually in foam, there is usually not a need for a spindle in terms of power - a router is adequate.  However, depending on how much of the day the ShopBot will be running and how many workers will be in the environment, a spindle may be preferable because it is considerably quieter than a router (see router vs spindle).  So, we've put a 2.25hp spindle in our recommended sign package.  The second question a sign maker faces is the hold-down system.  If most work will be carving the surface and not cutting pieces out, then simple fixturing, perhaps with vacuum from a shop vacuum or venturi vacuum, will probably be all that is needed.  If cutting out a variety of shapes of pieces is anticipated, then the option of a universal vacuum hold-down system should be considered.

Software: You can make high quality signs with the PartWorks software that is included with your ShopBot.  This software will V-carve any font as well as arbitrary shapes in the way that professional sign production requires. Our software does not include 3D modeling tools, but does allow importing 3-D carvings into a sign project. If in addition to these capabilities, you need to do complex nesting of parts in large project, we recommend ArtCAM Insignia. For doing your own modeling for 3D carving, Delcam's ArtCAM Pro and Vectric's Aspire are software packages of choice to add to your CNC tool package.  We also recommend one of the two Vector Mega Art collections as a great source of line-drawn clip art that has clean vectors, ready for use in CNC cutting. See Software Page

Complete Sign Maker's System:

  • PRSalpha 96x60 ShopBot
    (#10162) $18,945
    • - Includes steel and extruded aluminum table (120x60)
      - Includes ShopBot Control System Software & ShopBot PartWorks Design Software
      - Includes Z-zero Plate, XY Proximity Switch Kit & Dustskirt
  • HSD 2.2 HP 230V 3-phase Spindle
    (#12541) $2,619
  • Starter Bit Kit (8 useful cutters to get you started; for spindle or router)
    (#13699) $195  
  • Vector Art Mega Collection (thousands of clean clips to enhance signs, 1 of 3 vols)
    (#1114x) $249.95

System Price = $22,008.95
(price does not include crating/shipping)


Upgrade to a (#12572) 4 HP Spindle (230V, 3-phase, HSD); add $420
(#11099) ArtCAM Insignia Software; add $3,000
(#11105) ArtCAM Pro Software; add $7,500
Aspire Software; call for pricing
(#147XX) 16.9 HP Vacuum Hold-down system; call for pricing
(#14717) 1.5 HP Delta Dust Collector; add $1,200

[If you're on a budget, read "Reducing Costs of your CNC system"]

[Click here for a detailed, printable, PDF version of ShopBot's current price list]

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