Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Maia Papaya sign taking shape...

We do alot of these unit # signs - all over town. There are alot of condos in Lincoln, NH

Monday, August 30, 2004


No pictures of the project today, it has just started raining here and the prospect of dashing through the rain at the end of the day is one which I am not willing to entertain. (Our woodshop building is seperate from the main shop, so there is about a 10 ft distance from door to door, and yes, I will melt if I get wet)

This project is for Woodsville Guaranty Bank and it is coming along very well. Lee has completed the cutting of the shape and the finishing of the edges, and he also has cut a v-carve border with a hand router (which will be gold leafed in the finished product). I am hoping that we will get the raised dimensional elements glued onto the blank today, and then we can transfer the sign into the paintshop and start hitting it with paint.

We had alot of materials come in today, (heavy, large, and difficult to carry materials) and luckily I picked the hottest and most humid day we have had all summer for them to arrive. By the time Lee and I had finished putting everything away it looked like we had both fallen into the deep end of the pool. We have limited floorspace for materials so it takes alot of "creative stowing" to find a home for everything. Some stuff is still not "out of the way" but I am hoping it gets a little smaller by the end of the week and I will take another look at it then.

I thick I see an outdoor material storage cabinet in our future...

Feeling very organized this week... Making lists and checking them twice.

If you don't see your project on this list, don't panic... this probably only represents about 10% of what we actually have going on!


Big news from over the weekend... Ben lost one of his two front teeth! I am hoping I get a cut off the tooth-fairy money but I am not holding my breath. The kids both go to school soon, boy did the summer blast by quickly. That means Vicki will be coming to work in the Salt Mines with us starting next week.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Sunday morning project

As I mentioned from an earlier post, we are currently working on town seal decals for Lincoln, the beautiful town we live in. We have a Thermal-Digital printer, in-shop, that allows us to print and cut a large number of materials in-house. The seals you see in the picture are printed on regular pressure sensitive vinyl (like you would put on a vehicle) but if in the future the town needs us to print on other materials, we will be able to do it.

For example, if they wanted these printed on reflective vinyl so the image lights up at night when headlights hit it, we can do it...

If the needed them printed and applied to a banner, we have them covered...

If the needed it printed and applied to the inside of a window, we have it taken care of...

We can also print onto many types of candy and baked goods, as well as small pets.

NOTE: the above line is a slight exaggeration. The pets rarely stay still long enough for the printing process to complete and the process tends to be fatal (but I have experimented with many goldfish and alley cats attempting to perfect the process) and I generally eat the "test food" before it actually hits the printer.

Our weblog got a mention on a site about business blogging

Anyone who has stumbled onto this site accidentally (or accidentally on purpose) has either understood it from the get go or is somewhat still scratching their heads over the concept, and that is exactly the same thing that is happening to the wide variety of blogs that are currently out there.

What is a blog? There are many versions of the definition, but it is basically an online journal with hyper-fresh content. It is an eclectic mix of everything and anything, and blogging is said to be "the next big thing" on the internet.

The thing that I like about business blogs, is that it allows the reader (or consumer) to understand a company or person from a variety of angles all at once. You see a business at its best, at its worst, and in its unguarded moments. Everyone likes to see the "behind the scenes" part of something, and a business blog is exactly that.

We were recently profiled on Rick E. Bruner's Business Blog Consulting Website which I was thrilled about, as I believe Rick's website is an essential resource for anyone getting used to the idea of Business Weblogs. (Here is the link to the story on us - yes, it's short - we are really not all that interesting).

After drifting around Rick's website, you will have a much better understanding of this thing we call "business weblogs".

Next time you see me, ask me if blogging might be right for your business, and you can listen to me drone endlessly on about it...

Friday, August 27, 2004

TGIF - but I am probably going to end up working all weekend anyway...

Today was a good day, a busy day, but a good day.

Fridays generally are always busy. The big day to finish up some projects and get that which needs to be installed, installed. Lee was out doing installs for the entire day. Chris and I were lettering the train that you see below at the Hobo Railroad. We were able to complete the first side today, and we will be back next week to complete side #2 and letter two other cars that are waiting for us.

Later in the afternoon I returned to the office and made an effort to wade through the scrapheap that recently has been my desk. Worked on a few sketches, did a quote or two, and decided how we are going to attack what next week has in store for us.

One of the signs Lee installed today was a new sign for The Deacon's Bench Furniture Store which is opening a new location in North Conway (they already have a store in Littleton). They have been great to work with and I wish them best of luck with the new store.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Sandwich Boards

We have started promoting a "ready-to-go" manufactured sandwich board for our customers. It is made from injection-molded plastic, so it is very tough and very affordable. It is weighted down with sand so it won't fly away in the wind, and the message on the surface is easily changeable. The message area measures 24" x 36"

For this sandwich board, lettered on both sides: only $225.00
In the future, if you would like the message changed, only $115.00 for both sides

This one was made for the Century 21 Real Estate office in Lincoln, NH.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


After a sign is carved, quite alot of time is spent sanding it. A power sander can be used for the flat, background areas, but each individual letter needs to be sanded as well, and the only way to do that is by hand. Lee is also getting ready to cut the outside shape of the sign with the jigsaw (hence the pencil)

I'll be honest with you... Writing this series is making me realize how much work goes into a carved sign.

I don't think a lot of progress is going to be made on this sign over the next 2-3 days. One of the other things that takes up time in sign production is the fact that there are other jobs that need to be attended to as well. Today Lee and Chris will be out playing with trains.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Smith's Creamery and Cafe

Today I was in Littleton in the afternoon visiting a client and I was able to take some pictures of the Smith's Creamery & Cafe sign that we installed about two weeks ago. This is the type of project that makes it all worth it. Heavily 3D carved with a ton of little "touches" here and there. If you can click on the picture, you'll be able to see the detail on the custom, carved finals at the top of the posts in the shape of the logo. The bowl is done in silver leaf (shiny, shiny) and of course the straws are over-the-top but perfect at the same time.

If you are in Littleton anytime, I really recommend that you stop by. The Cafe is run by Suzanne and Ted Smith (fantastic people) and they have wonderful hand-made ice cream and food. They turned me on to a type of Sorbet called Gelato which is fantastic! If you are there, try the Tequila Sunrise flavored Gelato - excellent! (When I was there yesterday, they were out of that, so I asked for the one that was the closest color - and that was excellent too! Always order Gelato that has red in it - that seems to be the secret)

Monday, August 23, 2004


This is a shot of the router doing its 3D carving thing. I usually doing this type of carving over the weekend so it has a long time to run when it is not needed for other things. As I said, each of these compasses took about 6 hours to do.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Take a hike

We did get a chance to go out for a hike today. A old friend from Allegheny College is visiting us and we dragged her up one side of a mountain and down the other; I think she enjoyed it. The highpoint of the hike was when Vicki slipped on a wooden bridge and got a boot full of muck. Everyone thought that was very, very funny; except perhaps, Vicki; and her boot.

I unfortunately do not have any pictures of that which is unfortunate, but with good reason.

#1: Up to now, having this blog has been "a good idea" as far as Vicki is concerned. Mentioning this event will tip it towards the "bad idea" category. A picture of Vicki's leg covered in muck would push it over the cliff.

#2: Vicki is the one who packs snacks to take on the hike. I like snacks

#3: Vicki is my wife and I care for her deeply

#4: I was not fast enough with the camera


The hike was on the Artist's Trail for you outdoors-types. The picture above is of Cannon Mountain. The picture below is some other mountain (I have a hard time remembering the name of a mountain unless it has a really strong marketing plan).

In you take this hike, beware the Short-Circuit trail. Especially the 4th wooden plank on the bridge approaching from the east side.

Signmakers rarely have adventures like these

This is what I am currently reading, which I firmly put into the category of "guilty pleasures". I find the Dirk Pitt novels highly formulaic and predictable, but extremely satisfying nevertheless.

If you haven't read a Clive Cussler novel by now, you should...

Start with "Raise the Titanic!"

Saturday, August 21, 2004


In addition to traditional V-Carving (which is carving a shape into the surface of the sign), there are also going to be some raised elements to this project. This is a 3-dimensional model I created in my carving software which will tell the machine what it needs to do to create this shape.

But don't go thinking this is just a big video game and is just all fun, fun, fun. Time to create this 3D model? about 3 hours until I got it just the way I wanted it. How long will it take my equipment to cut this shape? 5.5 hours, and I need two of them

Friday, August 20, 2004


Today was the day that we went ahead and did the carving on both sides of the sign, and everything went just as planned as you can see from the above photo. We do the majority of our carving with a CNC Router. We program the machine what we want it to do and it generally does it flawlessly (but has been known to surprise us from time-to-time)

As you can imagine, there is a lot of careful math and planning just before turning the machine loose on a very expensive piece of wood, and I can tell you that we are as careful doing our math as the guys at NASA were sending men to the moon. There is not worse way to end your week than seeing a machine do something it is not supposed to do in a very dramatic and irreversible way. Both Lee and I always sweat bullets as the machine makes its first pass into the wood.

But as I said, everything went according to plan with this operation and we are on to the next step in the program...

By the way, any guesses who the sign is for?

OK, so it is Friday, by the way, and we live in the White Mountains. I am going to round the family up to go on hike.

Yes, I am well trained...

Spent the afternoon measuring trains. We do alot of work for the Hobo Railroad in Lincoln which I enjoy immensely, as it is always one of those "nice break from the routine" types of endeavors whenever we do a job for them. My kids, of course, think I am a hero because of this and I don't think being the guy who letters the space shuttle would be as large in their eyes. I, of course, always get a complete debriefing from the kids after any train work:

"Did you get to ride on the train?" No
"Did you get to see one move?" NO
"Did you get to make the whistle blow?" No. I did hear a car horn however, and I saw a guy drop a wrench

No pictures from the Hobo today. Next week we are going to be out there doing some work and I will try to get some shots.


I was at the dentist today. That might not sound like a good way to spend the morning, but coming from a guy that usually works 14-16 hour days, having someone pick around my mouth with a sharp metal instrument was like going to a spa. I got to lean back in a nice reclining chair, listen to music, and I did not have to think about anything more complex than the concept that I should perhaps be brushing better considering the amount of effort that the Hygenist needed to get all the gunk off my teeth. Did you know that you are supposed to brush EVERY day? (They actually claim twice a day, but I think they were pulling my leg). I specifically remember from health class in High School, the rule of thumb was once a week if possible. Is everyone else out there brushing EVERY DAY? Seems a little excessive to me.


Here is a sign that we completed back in late June. This was another big team effort, and was one of the first major signs were did after Vicki and I started running the business. Lee did all of the framing and build out of the structure and he did a phenomenal job getting everything to fit together. This is the job that Vicki discovered that she really likes hand lettering, as she did much of the finish painting work, and she also did most of the gold leafing. Rick gave me a hand with the carving and some airbrush pointers, and Chris pitched in all-around. The majority of what I did was the boring painting stuff. Two coats white primer, and then, 3 coats white paint: Wah Hoo! I almost went snowblind that weekend.

NOTE: Lincoln Sign company did the top InnSeason panel of the sign and the structure. The Fratello's sign and changeable copy board were supplied by another vendor.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

"Yes, we do that kind of stuff as well"

One of the things we have a hard time communicating to our customers, is that we do things other than fancy, high-end, custom-carved or sandblasted signs. We will happily do banners, site signs, lighted signs, vehicles, or anything else that we need to to get our customers message across.

Here is a site sign we just finished for Jeff Mailhot; a follow up to the van and trailer job we completed earlier in the month.

Close up

"Coffee - you are my god"

Note the time below

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

We are currently working on the Town Seal for Lincoln - painted by Rick Weissbrod

You gotta watch those kids with access to signmaking equipment

Ben is 7. With all of the technology lying around the shop, we are well beyond crayons on the walls. Found this on the workbench this morning.

By the way, did you notice he spelled the driver's name incorrectly? The correct spelling is d-a-l-e j-a-r-r-e-t-t.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004



The next step for a carved, wooden sign is for all of the individual boards to be glued together with a special outdoor adhesive (that is the "Ooze" that you see in the picture). (Don't worry, wooden boats are made with this stuff, and if it is good enough for them, it is good enough for us!)

We use the pipe-clamps that you see in the picture to pull the boards together and keep them straight and even. The glued-up board then sits for 12-24 hrs before the pipe-clamps come off and you have a rough board for the sign.

This sign is a good sized one. It will measure 61" x 96". We do both large and small here, right now we have another carved sign we are working on for a homeowner, that weighs in at 6" x 11.5"

Here is a sign we completed this morning and I just got off the phone with the customer (Eric Johnson's Furniture) letting him know that he can come and pick it up.

Monday, August 16, 2004


We have just begun to work on a 2 sided, carved sign for a local bank here in the White Mountains, and I thought it might be interesting to capture the entire process from start to finish. Many of our customers are surprised when we tell them that the typical turn-around time for a sign like this is 4-6 weeks, but many times they do not realize all of the steps a sign needs to go through before we can even think about getting around to painting it.

When we see something like the picture below in the woodshop, it is a good sign that a sign is getting ready to be born. The 6" boards below are Western Red Cedar (A Grade Wood) that have been trimmed along their lengths, and have had "notches" cut in several positions along their sides to allow us to place wood biscuits in the notches. (If you click on the picture and take a close look, you can see them). These biscuits will allow us to put two boards together and help us to get them perfectly aligned to one another.

The next step in the process will be gluing all of these boards together so that we end up with a large "board" that will eventually become our sign, but since getting these boards already took most of the day, glue-up will need to wait until tomorrow.

By the way...

Here is how those Ash signs look once the paint mask has been removed

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Everyone gets to pitch in at Lincoln Signs, but they don't look all that happy about it

Technology comes in handy once and while...

The software that we use to run our CNC router allows us to see a 3D image of what a sign will look like once it is carved and painted. We can even print out a copy and show it to a customer to give them a pretty good idea of what the end-product will look like.


Saturday, August 14, 2004

This is not a drill!

We had a bear in our backyard last evening... yes, a bear!

At least, I think we did. OK, I did not actually see the bear, but I was told there was a bear by the 4 year old who woke me out of a sound sleep (yes, my kids get to stay up later than I do) and I was made to run all over the house, peeking out of windows looking for "a bear".

My wife did confirm there was a baby bear in the backyard, but I did get jipped considering I did not actually see it. Pretty sure waking up suddenly like that takes a few years off your life.

Told the little boy, for future reference, I only wake up for bears IN THE HOUSE! And even then, only the big ones!

Friday, August 13, 2004

Friday the 13th

Nothing bad happened today!

We did the install on the Smith's Creamery Sign and it went extremely smoothly. Considering the date, I expected that we would drop the sign face-down on Main St., but it went up no problem and we didn't get even a pinched finger, or splinter, or anything. I even tried walking under the ladder a few times. Nothing!

On the way back from the install, I veered into oncoming traffic on a busy stretch of road, but everyone just got right out of my way.

Got back to the shop, got a few nice approvals on jobs, and some checks in the mail. Worked on a few projects, and everything worked out perfectly. Colors looked good, paint dried as it should, computers didn't crash, all my machines worked flawlessly.

NOTE: OK, so I did forget to take pictures of the Smith's install, but that is not really "bad luck". I was looking for a safe or piano to fall on me all day.

The signs below just got a last coat of maroon and they are going to The Mountain Club on Loon on Monday. They are carved in Ash which is a wood that I wish we got to work with more often.

I'll try to post another pic of them once the paint-mask gets peeled off

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Carved, sandblasted and Gold Leaf

The Owl carving on this sign is about 2" thick and really gives the sign a strong presence. Just about everyone in the shop helped out with this sign with Lee doing the sandblasting and all of the carpentry work, Chris and Vicki doing the lettering and gold leafing, and we have Rick to thank for the Owl carvings.

What do I do? Beyond standing around drinking coffee, I did get the "glory-work" of priming and painting the sandblasted background and Vicki did let me do some gold-leafing.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Completed J.L Mailhot Trailer

Worked all day Sunday (yes, I do work on weekends) and most of the day Monday to get this trailer completed for pickup at 5pm. We enjoy doing vehicles immensely, and we especially like doing Jeff's trucks as the design came together very nicely.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Wow, the summer is almost gone!

Took a few minutes top think about what a busy, hectic, and rewarding summer we have had. I have worked alot of late nights and early mornings (especially mornings!) over the past few months, but I have had some time to enjoy some of the nice things that the White Mountains has to offer for people who are luckly enough to visit here (or even better to live here).