Rustic Signmaking With HDU: Glazing A Sign To A Cool Finish

Almost medieval looking, the sign crafted by Synergy Sign & Graphics for Teal Insurance practically looks like it was made with ancient wood and hardened steel. In reality, Synergy used 30lb Precision Board Plus and a combination of other materials to give their sign a rustic, aged look.


We’ve worked with Synergy Sign & Graphics on several articles now, and one of the nicest things about working with them is that Jim Dawson, the owner, is an amateur photographer and takes excellent photographs documenting his signs every step of the way.

This unique sign began its life in Adobe Illustrator, based off an initial proof provided to him by the customer, before Jim generated a 3-D model with  CAM software.

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 3.59.01 PMInitial proof (left) and final Enroute Pro design (right).

Once the design was finalized, Jim’s MultiCam CNC transformed a piece of Precision Board Plus PBLT-30 HDU into the design he made in Enroute.


Since he sure didn’t want to see this beautiful sign get damaged by the weather or anything else, Jim reinforced the sign with a custom welded steel bracket, sandwiched into a routed slot in between each sign face. Once inserted, the sign faces were laminate bonded together with PB Bond-240, a single part urethane adhesive. A small opening at the top allowed space for eyebolts attached to the inner frame to mount to the faux tree – a simple, yet complex strategy.

To compliment his sign, and because Synergy Sign & Graphics refuses to make anything run of the mill or standard, Jim designed and built a custom faux tree from which he would mount the sign. The tree’s core was built from a custom-welded piece of steel.


Using an epoxy clay, Jim added a subtle, yet major touch to the signs appearance. The brackets surrounding the sign would be formed with the epoxy clay, and painted to look like hammered steel.

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 4.42.23 PM

A wire mesh frame provided the perfect foundation for the fiberglass reinforced concrete to be applied to and sculpted into a tree and surrounding rocks.


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This sign is a great example of the “jack of all trades” skill set that it takes to make a sign. So far, this project has required welding, CNC machining and masonry, and the finishing steps will include painting and glazing – in short, beautiful signs are a lot of work!

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 1.31.54 PMSign primed with FSC-88WB (left), 3 coats of exterior grade latex paint (right).

After priming the sign with FSC-88WB Primer/Filler, and coating with three separate coats of light brown exterior grade paint, it was time to start the glazing process on both the faux tree and actual sign (to see the glazing process, please visit Jim’s blog). Once the three-stage glazing process was complete, the sign was clear coated with exterior grade flat latex clear, resulting in one of the most unique hanging signs we’ve seen!


The recipients of the Teal Sign stated that it was “More amazing than they could have possibly imagined,” which is a real testament to the skill and craftsmanship of Jim Dawson and the entire crew at Synergy Sign & Graphic! Be sure to visit for more information and pictures!