Making 3-D Signs Is A Pretty Cool Job!

Talk to Doug Haffner, owner of Haffner’s Fantastic Creations, and it becomes clear that his sign making hobby became his livelihood and he enjoys it immensely. The quote on his website home page, “I literally can’t wait to get up every day and do this work”, is a testament to this as well.

After years working in the IT field for a marketing and advertising company, Doug purchased a CarveWright CNC router to work on different projects as a hobby. When his company downsized, Doug started Haffner’s Fantastic Creations out of his garage and got to work making 3-D signs. One of the first things Doug did was to attend one of Dan Sawatzky’s workshops (he has since gone to additional workshops), which introduced Doug to Precision Board HDU.

A year later Doug made the leap by purchasing a 4′ x 8′ CNC router and opening an actual shop of his own. At the time of writing this, Doug has been in business out of his own shop for a year and is learning new things every day and keeping busy. “I learned how to weld at Dan Sawatzky’s Sculpture Magic workshop, and purchased my own welder not too long ago. Three years ago, if you had told me I would be purchasing a welder in the future, I would have never believed it. It’s amazing where the sign industry has taken me”, says Haffner.


When you look at Doug’s projects, its clear that his work has a very unique, admirable style that has been honed over time. It should come as no surprise to hear he’s been featured in several magazines, and also on the TV show Extreme Makeovers: Home Edition, with a Star Wars project he made for free for a family that lost valuable Star Wars memorabilia in a tragic house fire.

Many, many of Doug’s projects feature Precision Board, which he likes to use because, “It’s so different than wood. There’s no grain, which makes cutting and carving it painless, and the fact that it comes in so many densities means the possibilities are endless.”

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 2.22.13 PM

According to Doug, his advice for someone new to the sign industry is “Invest in yourself. Make sure you know what type of business you want to do. If you don’t want to do vinyl signs, make sure you don’t, because word gets around and you might find yourself doing work you don’t enjoy.”

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 2.25.38 PM

Doug Haffner is also a member of the well-known elite “Walldogs” mural group and enjoys participating in the regular trips they undertake to different cities, painting murals and garnering interest in the sign painting industry. To see more of his amazing work, visit his website at:


Some of you may remember the semi-secret “Mechanical Fish” competition we wrote about in several previous articles. Well, Doug participated in that project too, with quite an impressive project made using a combination of Precision Board and Wildfire invisible blacklight paint.

Hint: Looking closely at the project, what is really going down in Doug’s entry is Doug’s fish, the larger, more dangerous looking aquatic specimen, is eating a replica of the fish Dan Sawatzky made for the competition! A challenge perhaps?!





Silver Creek Signworks Serene Signage Setting

Dick Bohrer, owner of Silver Creek Signworks and member of the elite “Walldogs” group of mural artists recently sent us pictures of some great signs he made for a resort last Fall using Precision Board Plus HDU.

Dick’s signs spends their days in the serene setting of the Leech Lake Resort Lodge in Walker, MN. Renowned for its hunting, fishing and hiking, Leech Lake experiences harsh weather during the winter so the signs needed to be able to resist moisture and withstand extreme temperatures. To guard against these elements, Dick chose to use Precision Board Plus PBLT-15 HDU, the proven Cold Weather Warrior.

The Precision Board was cut using what Dick calls the “BAR” technique (Brain Assisted handheld Router). After routing, the finished touches were added to the larger sign by a light sandblasting with a wire frame to create an authentic wood look.


To additionally protect them from high winds or other acts of nature, Dick sanded a sheet of Di-Bond with a coarse sandpaper and attached it to the Precision Board using PB Bond-240. The hand-carved paddles are also each backed with Di-Bond as a precaution. To add texture to the directional and trading post signs, a v-gouge and spoon gouge were used to add a hand carved look. Dick wrapped up the job with several coats of Nova Color paint, which is one of his favorites because of the high pigment content.

Trapper's on-site directional Sign_lowres

An additional sign Dick made for the lodge:

Trappers trading post

Dick also sent over this group of pictures showing how one can quickly and easily add a wood -grain finish to Precision Board Plus HDU by using a wire brush.


Dick Bohrer has been making signs since 1976 and Silver Creek Signworks is a full-serivice sign shop ready to tackle any signage project you can dream of! Be sure to visit his website for more information: