How this Black Panther Clawed its Way through Precision Board HDU

We came across this great article in the May issue of Signs of the Times magazine from Mike Bethune of Bethune Signs.  He talked about using Precision Board to create a dimensional sign for a Florida high school.   When a storm destroyed the sign at the entrance to the football stadium, officials got in touch with Mike and asked him to make a new sign.  They wanted it to feature a panther, the school mascot.  He had designed the original sign in 1998 and wanted to make something this time that would withstand the harsh Florida weather.  Mike used Precision Board HDU, a closed-cell, rigid substrate which would not warp, rot or absorb moisture.  In addition to its durability, Mike really liked the creative flexibility of working with Precision Board as seen here in this excerpt from his article:

When I first designed the sign, I put gashes at the top so it would look like the panther was clawing at it, trying to get through. But when I was carving, I looked at the gashes and realized they, too, were missing something, so I added folds to make it look like the panther was bending the metal outward.

I reached a point where I knew something was off but couldn’t put my finger on it, so I asked a friend what she thought and she noticed it right off. I had the nose too wide, so I carved some off and sure enough it looked better, but something was still off. Finally, I noticed what it was – I had the top fangs too far apart. Now you might be thinking, “That’s a shame. He’s already carved the fangs where they are.” But this sign is made of HDU, not Italian marble, so I cut the fangs off, glued and screwed them back on, only closer together. I had the look I wanted.

Precision Board HDU is a great material for carving, whether by hand or on a CNC machine.  Bethune Signs in Thonotosassa, FL can be contacted at (813) 982-2300 or through the website at  Great story, Mike!  You can read the full article on the Signs of the Times website.