Booking the Newcomerstown Public Library Signs

It may not look like it, but the “books” that make up the Newcomerstown, Ohio, Public Library entrance and exit signs are actually made out of steel, concrete and Precision Board HDU.  Jim Dawson with Synergy Sign fabricated the signs from frame to finished product in just two weeks and shares how he saved time while still creating something magical.


Everything for the Newcomerstown Public Library was modeled in 3d using Enroute Software and cut on their MultiCam 3000 series CNC router.  Jim started by creating a steel frame for the inside of the entrance sign, the one that looks like a stack of books.  He added a bunch of 1” x 1” and 2” x 2” steel tube supports to hold everything up.  A 3” x 3” tube goes up the middle.  “We plasma cut the books from steel and then welded them together and covered most of the surfaces with galvanized lath.”

The surfaces of the books are covered in fiberglass reinforced concrete, but the spines are cut out of 2” thick PBLT-30.  “The reason we did that was to carve the book names because it would have been hard to do if they were concrete,” says Dawson.

After all the steel was fabricated, he screwed the spines to the ends of the books.  “We stacked them and then covered them with metal lath, using wire ties to hold the concrete.”

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Jim blended sculpted concrete right up against the Precision Board and then covered the entire sign, including the spines, concrete and HDU, with two coats of TSF-45.

“If you look at the area of exposed pages, we put TSF on it and then brushed a graining tool to make it look like pages.  Probably saved a day of time doing that instead of carving it with a CNC and then v-groove the lines,” Dawson adds.

Jim added another 8 coats of paint over all that.  “Each book has its own color and then we antiqued everything with a glazing process.”

Dawson tells us he used three layers of glazes and three different colors of antiquing to tie it all together.

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He used the same process for the smaller exit sign.  “The entire Sword and The Stone exit sign was two layers of  2” thick 30lb Precision Board HDU.”  Dawson added, “the bookmark is a steel frame covered with Smoothon Freeform Habitat Epoxy Clay.”

The Newcomerstown Public Libary medallion at the top covers up the steel frame that comes out of the book and is made out of two layers of 2” thick PBLT-30 glued to the steel. Jim then painted it with Nova Color.  All of the reactive parts were done with Modern Masters Reactive Bonds.  It’s a real bronze paint that patinas when you spray acid on it.

This was the first project like this that Jim has attempted, but he says they had a good game plan and went for it.  He says, “don’t be afraid to try stuff.  There were things we tried and didn’t work.  If you don’t try, you’ll never learn anything new.”

Dawson said it took two weeks start to finish to fabricate the two signs.  “The steel frame probably took the longest followed by painting.  We had the concrete done in two days.” He added, ” It was about 4 hours of machining time to route the exit sign books, spines, and the badge on top of the books out of the Precision Board.”


We think that Jim Dawson and his team did some really excellent work on the Newcomerstown Public Libary signs. Synergy Sign & Graphics has a highly experienced staff whose backgrounds include graphic design, marketing, trade-show design, print media, branding, point of purchase design, fulfillment, and more. Check out their website or give them a call at (330) 878-7646 to see about your next project!

Coastal Enterprises offers free samples of Precision Board HDU.  Already have a project in mind for our material?  Request a quote and get started today.  Sign up for our monthly blog roundup so you don’t miss any of our informative blogs.  You can always give us a call at 800-845-0745 or drop us an email.  We’d love to hear from you!