March 6, 2020
About this time 2 years ago I started what I intended to be a simple DIY project. The idea was to build a simple sign that read “Jake’s Custom Shop,” the name of my guitar equipment Etsy business. All I wanted was a good excuse to use my new Delta Scroll saw I found at a yard sale, and a cool piece to hang in my workshop; nothing flashy. My original plan was to cut out the words “JAKE” and “Custom Shop,” then glue them to a black-painted sheet of oak plywood. Maybe I would add some trim to make it a bit more decorative. I made some paper stencils using photoshop and laid them out on the floor with some scrap wood. I was quick to notice that I did not have nearly enough plywood to build a large enough sign. Instead of spending $30 for a fresh sheet I redesigned. Instead of putting trim around the entire name, I decided to put trim only around “Custom Shop” and place “JAKES” above the top piece of trim. This would be a structural challenge, but make for a unique product nonetheless. I got out my scroll saw and started cutting. It took several hours to cut out “Custom Shop” which looked awesome! And then I got caught by school and work, left only to think about how cool the sign would be.
About 9 months later, I finally found some time to dedicate to this project during Christmas break. This 9 month pause in fabrication was the best possible thing that could have happened to my sign project. I was able to come up with a solution to the structure problem, pick out a color scheme, and organize my process. I cut out and painted each piece, assembled a steel frame and layed out what I had so far. But seeing it all made me ask “what if I put LEDs behind the top and bottom trim?” This would be another engineering nightmare. “And what if I put lights behind the letters and made the sign look like it’s ‘floating?’” This simple project went from easy, to impossible in an instant. I implemented a steel frame, wooden blocks for offsets, and used a router to mill out the back of “JAKES” to make room for LED strip lights.
All this took me from the end of my finals week to christmas afternoon when I hoped to share my project with my family after dinner. In the end, this semi-rushed, semi-procrastinated project turned out to be one of my greatest creative designs.
Here it is in pink.
Here it is in the light.