March 6, 2020

Building Jake’s Custom Shop Sign

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.

Jake's Cutom Shop Sign.png
Jake's Custom Shop Sign

Here it is in pink.

Here it is in the light.