Big  Blue Saw


When making signs with lettering, it can be tedious work to generate all the necessary bridges. This is true both when the letters are positive space (solid material) or negative space (holes). Fortunately, by using the correct font, you can save time and get a result that looks good.
When the letters form positive space, one good choice is to use a script font.

In the example below from David Kaufman, the Santa Fe script font was used to design two nameplates. The right hand side of the “f” had to be modified to connect with the “m”, but the rest of the letters naturally run together with this font.


Illustration : Nameplate signs from David Kaufman



Illustration : The font used in the examples above: Santa Fe LET

When the letters are negative space, you can use a stencil font. Below are a few examples of the varieties of stencil fonts which might be useful for your project.


Illustration : AG Stencil



Illustration : Bodoni Becker Stencil Bold



Illustration : Stencilia



Illustration : Tomorrow People. Note: some numbers and symbols may not
have appropriate bridges in this font.


Friday, 05 September 2014 12:56

Turning a Logo Into a Sign

Below is an example logo for “thegymnasium”.


Illustration : The original logo to be turned into a sign.

Now let's take a look at four different approaches to turning this logo into a sign. Below you will see renderings of two variations with the logo as positive space and two variations with the logo as negative space.



Illustration : A rendering of the sign with the logo as negative space.
Note that the centers of the letters "e", "g", and "a" are disconnected
parts and must be mounted separately.



Illustration : A sign with the logo as negative space. In this design, the centers
of the letters "e", "g", and "a" have been bridged. This makes mounting and alignment easier,
but produces a logo that is less faithful to the original.



Illustration : The logo with the letters as positive space in the sign. In this variation,
the letters have been bridged with a baseline. Also note the bridge connecting
the dot above the "i". Since it is one piece, it is relatively easy to install.


Illustration : The logo as a sign in positive space with separate pieces for each letter.
This would be the most accurate rendition of the logo when installed on a wall or other
background of contrasting color. However, it is the most difficult configuration
to install, as each letter must be aligned and mounted separately.

Signs are another popular application for waterjet cutting, as they typically convey their information in two dimensions. Logos, pictures, and lettering can all be cut using the waterjet. Most of the signs we make at Big Blue Saw are either stainless steel or aluminum. I prefer the look of stainless steel; its darker color gives the sign a more solid, serious look. Signs can be made from very thin material, but for more visual impact close up, you can go with a thicker stock.

There are generally two approaches to cutting a sign or logo:

  • Making the individual letters out of solid material and assembling them together.
  • Cutting the lettering or design from within a solid outer frame.

In other words, you must decide whether you want the design to appear as positive space (material) or negative space (holes).

The second approach can result in a sign that's easier to install. If designed correctly, you can hang up the sign as a single piece without having to worry about fastening separate letters or their alignment. In order to do this, you must be sure to join any separate islands within the design using bridges. This often comes up when adding certain letters that naturaly contain islands: A, B, D, O, etc. Note the bridging on the letters in the sign shown below.

This sign was easy to assemble, with just a few screws needed to hold the upper layer onto the lower layer, and 4 screw holes in the corners to allow the sign to be hung up.

If you want professional sign design work, you should contact RoPro Design, as they designed the sign for us shown in the picture below. At Big Blue Saw, we've worked with them on a number of projects, and they're highly professional and will do a great job.



Illustration : A sign in two layers, with the logo and lettering waterjet cut from wood.

If you want the letters to be made from solid material rather than holes, you can still keep them in one piece, but you will have to come up with a scheme for joining them together. The photo below shows one possible aproach.

Note also that this sign is designed to be cut in a single pass with only one pierce of the material. This helps reduce costs (for more information, refer to our cost reduction article).



Illustration : A nameplate sign with the letters as positive space and joined together.

If you want the most accurate representation of a logo, you will probably choose to have each section of the design and each letter cut out as separate pieces. This allows, for example, letters to be exactly the shapes you want them to be without having to worry about bridging. Since you don't have to worry about designing bridges or connecting elements of the logo, design can be easier. The chief downside of this kind of sign is that each piece must be hung separately. You must also take great care when installing the sign to make sure that the position and alignment of each piece is correct.

When designing a sign, you should consider how the sign is to be hung on a wall or otherwise mounted in place. If you are mounting to a wall or other flat surface, the design can include holes for mounting screws in each piece of the sign. If you don't want visible screws, you can mount the sign using adhesive or by welding attachment points to the back. Make sure that whatever attachment method you use is strong enough to hold up the sign (Big Blue Saw gives you a weight estimate for your design in the ordering process.)