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.

Smaltz & Gold-Leaf: The Mark of A High-End Sign

As the proprietor of a sign shop, having a nice-looking sign for your business is a good rule of thumb. Dave Correll, owner of Brushwork Signs in Faribault, MN, recently decided to make a new sign for the outside of his business – a sign that was featured on the cover of SignCraft magazine!

According to Dave, “I started out making this sign for my business by CNC routing a 2′ x 4′ panel of Precision Board Plus PBLT-15 on my ShopBot. Next, I backed it up with MDO to give it enough strength to stand up to the sometimes harsh weather we see in Faribault. Because we wanted our sign to represent the quality and service of goods that can be expected from Brushwork Signs, I decided to go with a combination of 23K gold-leaf and smaltz to accent the sign.”

*A great step-by-step article by Sign & Digital Graphics on the time-honored tradition of gold-leafing can be seen here. 


As many sign makers are aware, smaltz is the technique of adding a crushed glass background to a sign, providing an eye-catching, unique texture. “In order for the glass to properly adhere to the sign, it is necessary to add a binding agent to the glass mixture. Through my years of adding smaltz backgrounds to 3-D signs, my binder of choice has become a custom mixture consisting of West Systems Epoxy mixed with Ronan Paints lettering enamel, because I’ve found it provides the best adherence qualities,” says Correll.

*An excellent SignCraft article on adding a smaltz background can be seen here.

The sign was finished with layers of Novacolor acrylic latex paints with a satin sheen to give it nice reflective qualities.

Dave got his start in the sign industry after attending the now-defunct hand-lettering course at the Detroit Lakes Vocational School. Throughout the two-year course he mastered the art of sign painting, and also met his wife Ann. After graduation, they each spent time at different sign shops for several years until the opening of Brushwork Signs in 1988, continuing to this day and specializing in all types of signage.

Look for a special project from Dave that will be on display at our booth #1347 at ISA Orlando this year!

Additional pictures of quality signs by Brushwork Signs can be seen at:

Imagination At Work in Frisco, CO

Take a look at this Signs of The Times article featuring Mr. Roger Cox, owner of House of Signs in Frisco, CO and this great work of art. Roger has been making 3-D signs since 1989 and made this beautiful sign using Precision Board Plus HDU!

See how Roger made this sign using a combination of 15lb., 20lb. and 30lb. HDU here.

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The Monument Sign of Tomorrow

Signs of The Times recently published a great article featuring one of our longtime friends, Doug Haffner, owner of Haffner’s Fantastic Creations, and the sign he made for Rhino Tools.

What really impressed us about this sign is how it very obviously differs from the typical “monument sign” path of stone or masonry and a centerpiece. By incorporating steel and Precision Board Plus HDU together, Doug made a one-of-a-kind sign that is sure to catch the eye of any passersby and make a great first impression on any visitors.

To see the excellent Signs of The Times article showing how Doug used Precision Board Plus PBLT-30 and FSC-88WB Primer/Filler to make this beautiful monument sign visit:

Thank you to Mr. Michael Holmquist, Publishing & Brand Services Coordinator at Signs of The Times for sending this to us.