We transferred the design onto a transparency and then projected it onto the boards for tracing. With the outline in place, I cut the boards using a jigsaw to get the proper shape to the blank.

The design is projected on the face of the sign and then marked off. Here, Linda Roederer adjusts markings before final cutting to bring the blank into shape.

At this point, the blank was sanded using 120-grit paper with the belt sander and then finished-sanded using 220-grit paper and an orbital palm sander. Next, I primed the blank using Chromatic fast-dry blockout and applied two coats of Chromatic oil-based paint. The pain coats, allowed to dry for 24 hours, were sanded with #00 steel wool between applications.

The face is sanded first with a belt sander using 120-grit paper. Here, Paul uses an orbital palm sander for a second sanding with 220-grit paper.

Next, the sign is primed using Chromatic dast-dry blockout. After this, two coats of oil-based paint will be applied.

Now the sign was ready for stencil and blasting. We cut the lettering on a Roland CAMM I 24-in. plotter using Hartco 4255 stencil. While I regularly use Hartco stencil, I thought it was particularly important to make sure I used it on this job!
Here Linda applies the main stencil to the sign

After applying the stencil, I covered the edges of the sign with duct tape to protect them.
The blast was accomplished using440-grit silica sand at 95 PSI.
A word about ventilation and respiration are in order here. Anyone who is serious about sandblasting will hammer on these points, but they always bear repeating. It is critically important to use good respirators and ventilation equipment when sandblasting. Paint fumes and other solvent vapors pose enough of a risk, but airborne particulates present a serious health hazard. Breathing silica dust is extremely dangerous.
At Creative Blast, all personnel are required to wear Sullair full-face respirators in the blasting area, which is properly sealed. Further, the blasting area is controlled by a cyclone dust collector. Don’t ever take chances with inadequate respirators or ventilation when sandblasting.

To fabricate the eagle head, I selected 18-lb, 1 1/2-in-thick Sign·Foam® high-density urethane. It’s not only very adaptable to many techniques, but is also a much easier medium to carve than wood.

The design was taken from the clip art supplied with Corel Draw, Version 8.0, and then printed on a transparency and projected onto the foam. If you think you are seeing a pattern with projection, you are. Projection is by far the quickest way I have found to get outlines and guidelines onto substrates. And in a high-volume production shop, every time saving step is a good one.

With the pattern in place, we cut the general shape with a jigsaw to get the blank, and I preformed the detail carving with hand-held wood-carving tools.

After the carving was completed, I primed the head with Chromatic fast-dry blockout and then painted it with Chromatic fast-dry white. The eagle head’s detail was airbrushed.
The eagle head starts with this roughcut Sign-Foam® High Density Urethane blank.

Paul carves the rough details on the eagle head..
Detail carving on the head.
Here the head has been primed and painted with Chromatic fast-dry white. The detail airbrush work has yet to be finished.

Cross and Scroll
In Keeping with Hartco’s request that the sign prominently display its Christian focus, I made the cross the primary element of the design. To construct the cross, we used 1-in. thick redwood, which was sanded, primed and then painted with 1Shot® chrome yellow. Linda Roederer of Sings and Wonders (Cincinnati), who is a specialist in goldleaf and had been working with me on this project, applied 24-carat gold leaf over the 1Shot.
Krylon was used to create a blended-rainbow effect behind the cross to provide further emphasis on this element as central to the design.
The scroll was the last major feature of the sign. We built it from 1/8-in. Sintra® by cutting and heat-forming the bends. The formed Sintra was sprayed with Krylon to create an antique look and finished with Spar-Cal goldleaf vinyl for the lettering.

Finally all of the components of the sign were sealed by applying Chromatic sign clear and then the eagle head and cross were attached with 100% silicone. The scroll required plastic stand offs and hardware.
It isn’t often that a client wants such a wide range of techniques and materials in a sign and allows complete design freedom to the fabricator. While jobs like this are challenging, the completed work makes the effort more than worthwhile.
The cross is the central element of the design. Here, Linda uses 24K gold for the gilding.
These painted rays add more impact to the cross.
The eagle head was affixed to the board with 100% silicone after being sealed with Chromatic sign clear.

A final check is made on the sign before transporting and mounting it.
All About Paul
Paul Shoemaker left the world of mechanical engineering when an artist friend convinced him to get into sandblasting part-time doing small wood wall hangers with children’s names on them. From this simple beginning, Paul’s business began to grow when he contacted new construction developments and sold them on the effectiveness of sandblasted signage. It wasn’t long before he quit his day job for a full-time sandblasting shop, which constantly expands. For the last 11 years, Paul’s Creative Blast Co., based in Cincinnati, has been producing high-quality, sandblasted wood signs for customers both local and worldwide.
You can contact Paul at (513) 251-4177