Letterheads: Keepers of the Craft – 40th Anniversary

For generations, men and woman designed, carved, lettered and painted signs by hand. In today’s world, machinery is taking the lead in signage with its ability to mass produce or “set it and forget it”, but what about the flowing subtleties and unique touches that lead to a top-notch sign? Letterheads ‘Keepers of the Craft’ are all about keeping traditions alive and Coastal is proud to be a part of the 40th anniversary.

This special 40th anniversary will be held, appropriately, at the American Sign Museum in a few weeks on September 24th through the 27th. This four-day event will offer two days of formal workshops – aka, Letterhead University, and two days of informal sessions such as panel jams, murals, impromptu demonstrations, and more. The workshops offer a range of topics with an emphasis on traditional techniques and design.

Coastal Enterprises has sponsored the Letterhead Meets, with Precision Board HDU, since the early 90s, and still to this day, we are very honored to be part of it. Kellie Miller will be in attendance for all 4 days of Letterhead40, and besides having a table, she will be available at the workshop offered by Noella Cotnam and Shane Durnford, “Letter carving and Then Some”. She’ll be there to help with any and all questions regarding HDU and finishing products (Primers, adhesives, texture coatings, etc.). This is a 2-day class offered on the 24th and 25th among the 28+ classes available, but time is of the essence as these classes fill up quickly.

If you don’t have time for the workshops, stop by Coastals table for free samples and demonstrations.

Online Registration ends on September 10th so be sure to register ASAP!

Letterhead40 Registration


Noella Cotnam, 2009. Don’t forget to sign up for her carving class co-taught with Shane Durnford.


Cam Bortz – Callander, Scotland, 2006


Stewart McLaren, Brenda Daley, Mike Meyer – Winter Muster, 2004

photo 1.1

Mozeppa Muster, 1999



Terry Colley – Callander, Scotland, 2006

letterhead timeline

Bring a piece from a past letterhead meet to share with others and place on the 48ft display shelf!

Check out their website, www.letterhead40.com, or look for them on Facebook! You’ll find more details about the meet and see more pictures that will give you an even greater appreciation for the craft. Hope to see you there!


Giving Life to Precision Board

Every year the next generation continues to impress us. After receiving the donated Precision Board Plus from Coastal Enterprises Company, these select creative minds brought life to what was once a block of urethane. Using PBLT hand in hand with 3D Printers, Paper Laser Cutters and CNC Milling machines, the students at Carleton University in Ottawa are working with cutting edge technology. They are incorporating materials and machinery to create amazing works of art.


PBLT 15 & PBLT 18, along with 3D printing, shows the intricate detail in the ‘Reef Project’


PB Bond-240 (one part Urethane adhesive) being applied to bond sheets of Precision Board, to achieve desired thickness for this project.   Next step: CNC machining!


Brant Lucuik, a professional CNC technician, helped the students learn about and use the CNC machine to carve the Precision Board.  There was a combination of densities used for this project. The students used PBLT-10 up to PBLT-20, though PBLT-15 and PBLT-18 were the norm. Everyone was pleased with how easy Precision Board was to work with, “It sands and mills beautifully and I would use it exclusively if I could” said Johan Voordouw, Professor of 2nd year Modeling and responsible for the reef project.


The students at Carleton used several 3D printers from around campus in conjunction with the Precision Board to create this reef scene. Most of the 3D printers used were “smaller makerbots” to create the coral reef shapes. Superglue was used to bond the 3D art to CNC carved Precision Board.




Precision Board in conjunction with 3d printing make ideas become reality. For more information regarding these projects, contact Professor Johan at Carleton University. For any more information about a potential CNC project, contact Brant at Carleton University. To find out more about Carleton University, Click Here!


Dan Sawatzky's Imagination Corporation

Perhaps one of the most innovative forces in the signage industry today, Dan Sawatzky and his Imagination Corporation are a household name among many sign makers. Dan has been a friend of Coastal for many years and is a huge fan of Precision Board Plus, especially the higher densities such as PBLT-30 and PBLT-40.

Kellie Miller, our Customer Relations Manager has been friends with Dan since the late 90’s after meeting at Rick Glawson’s Letterhead meet. Dan was interested in incorporating HDU into some of his creations, and proceeded to test out different brands, with Precision Board Plus emerging as the winner.

Since then, Dan has used Precision Board Plus HDU exclusively and has won many awards for his work. One of the coolest things about Dan is also his willingness to help and teach others. This is evident in the sign and sculpting workshops he holds at his shop in Chilliwack, BC Canada. In addition to Precision Board Plus HDU, Dan also uses FSC-88WB Primer/FillerPB Bond-240, and Abracadabra Sculpt.

Besides signs, he is also heavily involved in interior and exterior architectural theming and readily incorporates Precision Board Plus into his themed environments. Dan routes most of his projects on his MultiCam 3000 Series 4-axis CNC router using  software.

His blog is updated frequently and has extremely detailed tips on how he makes the magic happen with his signs, sculptures and themed environments. We host it on our website in addition to this one, so if you have a second, be sure to check it out!

****Update: Dan Sawatzky’s next Sign Magic workshop will be held this November 6 – 8 in Hackensack, NJ. Full information available here.

Here is some of the award winning work done made by Dan:

2012 International Competition – Signs of the Times

Fox and Hounds Pub – Second Place in the Sign Systems category


2011 International Competition – Signs of the Times

First Place – Commercial Sign Systems – MultiCam Western Canada

 Second Place – Commercial Monument Signs – Dhillon Farms

 Third Place – Commercial Building Signs – Shmyer’s Harbor Sign

2010 Sign Media – Canadian National Competition

Best in Show & Winner – Unique Signs – Sextant

Instant ancient vine (frame work)

Work continues on many fronts on the Fox & Hounds pub project. Today the outside entry received the final coats of base paint, leaving the glazes to be done tomorrow. In the ladies washroom the last of the welded rusty steel stall dividers was installed today. With the bulk of the welding done it was time to do one last task before that equipment goes home once more at long last. The primary task fo today was to weld up the framework for the thick vines. 
It is my bet that at least one person will lean on, swing or climb on the vine in the next years. That means it needs to be sturdy. REAL STURDY. Anchor points were drilled into the floor to anchor the base. I bent and positioned a single rod for each vine from the ground, then screwed in heavy lag bolts at key points ensuring the vines will grow for many years to come. The vines intertwine around the brick post and wander up to the beam above, then down towards the beer dispenser below. A video screen will be mounted to the end, positioned perfectly for reference of the bar tender to access.
The next step will be to wrap the welded armature with diamond lath and then using sculpting epoxy to form the weathered and twisted grape vine. Stay tuned for progress.

Published with permission from precisionboard.blogspot.com. Source.

Workshop name tags 4

Old car insignias have always intrigued me. For Rafael’s name plaque I decided to create one. The type style I chose is called air conditioner. 
The vectors were basic. The open contour was modified by simply bending the two sides. 
I used the bevel tool to create a relief. It is fairly shallow.
The letter outline was created as a zero height flat relief. This was then merged LOWEST with the first relief.
Then I created the background relief, applying a subtle texture to the inner, raised portion. The lettering was created as a separate relief, positioned vertically and then merged highest to complete the file. It was now ready for tool pathing and routing.

Published with permission from precisionboard.blogspot.com. Source.