ALL OF OUR SIGNS & PLAQUES ARE MADE IN THE USA BY AMERICAN CRAFTSMEN
Product Line Descriptions
Examples of Art Sign Work's Eleven Product Lines
Welcome!! On this website you can view over 12,000 designs of carved wood and HDU signs and plaques, one of the largest collection of carved signs & plaques anywhere in the world, for every style and application.
This page provides an overview of the various types and materials of the signs & plaques within each of our twelve Product Lines and their approximate prices. Click on the photos with underlined Product Line titles below to go to that Product gallery page. Examples of these various products are also distributed throughout the Application photo gallery pages, as discussed in the paragraph below.
We have also organized the photos in 36 Application Galleries (e.g. farm signs, lawyer signs, beach house signs, store signs, military crest plaques, etc.), in Galleries 10 through 35. An overview of these Application Galleries is provide on our Sign Photo Galleries Overview page. These photo Galleries are also listed by application in the numbered titles in the navigation box on the left (scroll down to see these). You can also search for a specific type of sign type of sign, such as "Oak leaf address sign", or "sign with Skier on it" , or "red wooden stop sign", or "lawyer directory sign" by entering these key words in the box on the top of the gray navigation box on the left. If you are on a cell phone, click on the three red bars on the top left of your screen to see this gray navigation menu.
Comparison of Signs and Plaque Materials
Because we (and also other) manufacturers make signs and plaques with several different materials, it is useful to compare advantages and disadvantages of these materials and styles in selecting a design for your sign. These are shown in Table 1 below. The second column of this Table shows the Product Line where these are discussed in more detail. Our 3-D bas-relief, , 2.5-D multi-level raised relief, and engraved dimensional signs are carved by our CNC routers from High-Density-Urethane (HDU) and wood (usually Cedar or Redwood, but sometimes Mahogany, Oak or Maple). For painted and metal-plated signs, HDU is the usually the best choice because of its lower prices, long life and minimum maintenance. Wood is selected when a stained, rather than painted, appearance is desired, but it has higher prices and requires annual maintenance for outdoor signs (but not indoor signs or plaques). Extended Polystyrene foam (EPS) with a hard outer skin is only used for large monument signs with pillars and a base (see Gallery 6) ; smaller dimensional signs are made from HDU.
We also make flat (2-D) or engraved signs from aluminum sheet, High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), acrylic (plexiglass), PVC , and Medium-Density-Overlay (MDO) smooth surfaced plywood. These signs and plaques cannot be carved in 3-D or 2.5-D multi-level raised relief. However, signs or plaques using these materials can be made dimensional by cutting out letters or logos and adhering them to a flat sign substrate or a wall. This process increases their costs so they are no longer the low-price option.
Table 1 - Comparison of Different Materials Used as Substrates for Signs
Because we make wall plaques with several different materials, it is useful to compare advantages and disadvantages of these materials and styles in selecting a design for your plaque. These are shown in Table 2 below. The second column of this Table shows the Product Line where these are discussed in more detail. Our 3-D bas-relief, 2.5-D multi-level raised relief, and engraved dimensional plaques are carved by our CNC routers from High-Density-Urethane (HDU) and wood (usually Cedar or Redwood, but sometimes Mahogany, Oak or Maple). For painted and metal-plated signs, HDU is the usually the best choice because of its lower prices, long life and minimum maintenance. Wood is selected when a stained, rather than painted, appearance is desired, but it has higher prices. We also offer solid cast and precision machined bronze and aluminum 3-D bas-relief, 2.5-D raised flat relief, and etched wall plaques and signs. Our wood & metal plaque website, www.woodmetalplaques.com, describes the advantages and disadvantages of these materials and styles in more detail.
Table 2 - Comparison of Different Materials Used as Substrates for Wall & Podium Plaques
Descriptions of Our Product Lines
The pictures and text below provide more detail on each of Art Sign Work's twelve Product Lines. Click on a picture for a Product Line to go to a separate page with a more extensive description and many examples of signs or plaques in that Product Line.
Product Line 1 - Carved 2.5-D Multi-level & Engraved High-Density-Urethane (HDU) Signs & Plaques
These are our most popular signs; inexpensive, simple, attractive, eye-catching, long-lasting with low maintenance. We offer a wide variety of sign shapes, sizes, font styles, and art icons for our completely custom 2.5-D relief (i.e., multi-level raised relief, where each level is flat rather than curved such as 3-D carving) HDU signs and plaques. These signs are weather and moisture resistant, have a warranty of 2 years, and will easily last at least 20 years with minimal maintenance. We perform multi-level raised text and art routing for the same price as single-level raised text routing. Engraved text, border and artwork routing (V-carved or U-carved with a flat bottom) , where the front surface of the sign is smooth, has a price about 10% less than raised text and art routing.
Letters and art can be raised and/or engraved, with backgrounds smooth, sandstone texture, simulated wood grain, or leatherette (the latter three by sandblasting). All our signs are first carved with our CNC router, because it provides crisper, more accurate carving than sandblasting, and is much more versatile. signs and plaques can have rounded edges, multiple borders, one or more art pieces , and multiple lines of text in the font styles of your choice, at the same low price.
The price depends primarily on sign size , and is roughly proportional to area (max width x max length). this, a 2 ft x 2 ft sign (area = 4 ft2) costs 4 times as much as a 1 ft x 1 ft sign (area = 1 ft2). Double side signs cost 40% to 50% more than single-sided signs. These carved High-Density-Urethane (HDU) are typically 1.5 inches to 2 inches thick. After carving the sign, the HDU is coated with a special HDU primer After background and trim paint is applied, the entire sign or plaque is sprayed with 2 clear coats.
Product Line 1A - Carved and Painted Faux Wood HDU Signs
These are a specialty group of Product Line 1 and 3 HDU signs. These are inexpensive, and attractive HDU signs carved and painted to look like real wood signs, which we also make (See Product Line 3) signs . We can make HDU signs & plaques look like Cedar, Mahogany, Redwood, or Maple wood. These signs are UV fade and moisture resistant, have a warranty of 2 years, and will easily last at least 20 years with minimal maintenance.
Letters and art can be raised and/or engraved, with backgrounds smooth or carved in a rough wood grain texture, or alternatively sandblasted using a grain frame mask to give the appearance of wood grain . All our signs are first carved with our CNC router, because it provides crisper, more accurate carving than sandblasting, and is much more versatile. Signs and plaques can have rounded edges, multiple borders, one or more art pieces , and multiple lines of text in the font styles of your choice, at the same low price.
The price depends primarily on sign size.. Double side signs cost 40% to 50% more than single-sided signs. These carved faux wood High-Density-Urethane (HDU) are typically 1 inches to 2 inches thick. After carving the sign, the HDU is coated with a special HDU primer After background and trim paint is applied with an airbrush or paintbrush to look like real wood color patterns, the entire sign or plaque is sprayed with 2 clear coats.
Product Line 2 - Carved 3-D (Sculptured Bas-relief) High-Density-Urethane (HDU) Signs & Plaques
These signs & plaques have premium 3-D bas-relief sculptured carved art and sometimes beveled or V-cut text , in contrast to regular sandblasted HDU signs which have 2.5-D art and text (flat but usually raised above the background or engraved into the background, sometimes referred to as multi-level flat relief). Our premium 3D signs and plaques are suitable for the courts, Federal ad State government organizations, estates, businesses, and organizations where an dramatic and detailed sign will will attract attention while giving the impression of quality and elegance.
The artwork is more elaborate and may depict a scene rather than a single object. The artwork will be first be CNC routed to give a bas-relief sculptured look, and for some signs, specific areas will be sandblasted. It may then be hand-carved (for some signs), hand-sanded, and hand-painted with artist brushes using sign enamels. We can also apply 24 K gold, aluminum or copper leaf to gild letters, borders or art., or we can antique some or all of the sign or plaque. We can also make V-cut or prismatic engraved letters or beveled or rounded raised letters. Text can be outlined and multiple borders added, which can be 3 D ( e.g., flourishes or rope pattern). We can work from a computer file, a photo, a sketch which you supply, or we can create a new design for you. Also included in this category are cut-out letters of art appliques (usually made from HDU) mounted on a HDU substrate. These type of signs can range from the fairly simple to complex and elaborate.
Product Line 3 - Carved 3-D & 2.5-D Raised Relief, Engraved and Sandblasted Cedar, Redwood, Mahogany , Oak and Maple Wood Signs & Plaques
Art Sign Works makes beautiful classical and rustic carved engraved, 2.5-D, and 3-D carved wood signs and wall plaques. Most of our wood signs and wall plaques are made from California Redwood or Western Red Cedar, but for our Wall Plaques and smaller signs we also use fine furniture-grade hardwoods such as Mahogany, Black Walnut, White Oak, American Cherry, and Maple.
We offer the same shapes, sizes and artwork choices as for High Density Urethane (HDU) signs. Many people prefer the natural beauty of stained and varnished wood instead of the enameled paint finish of HDU, even though more maintenance is required for outdoor wood signs than HDU signs and their longevity is not as long and their maintenance us higher in an outdoor environment. We recommend our wood signs only if you want a natural or rustic finish or you sign or plaque will be protected from rain, snow, and the sun. If you want an all-painted sign, we recommend HDU instead. Of course, we can paint our wood signs as well as finish them naturally. We use only the finest grades of clear all-heart vertical-grain kiln dried Redwood and prime grade Western Red Cedar for our wood signs which we get from a specialty lumber supplier or direct from a sawmill in Idaho (for Cedar). These premium grades of wood has very few knots or defects. We also use reclaimed 100 yr old barn-wood when an antique or aged look is required.
Wood signs can be simple sandblasted or routed signs, or can be elaborate 3-D carved signs (like Product Line 2, except made from wood instead of HDU). They can look very rustic or can be made of fine woods (e.g., mahogany, walnut or cherry) and finished like expensive furniture. We can make elaborate 3-D carvings as appliques or carved into the wood substrate, with stains and lacquer coats showing the natural beauty of the wood. We also make many "hybrid" wood / HDU signs, with carved and painted 3-D HDU mounted as an applique on a natural wood signboard. We also make aluminum, iron or wood sign holders, stands and frames for these signs.
Product Line 3A - Custom Individual Letters and Numbers
We make a variety of custom individual letters and numbers of all sizes, with many styles, using several different materials. These letters and numbers can be mounted on a building or fence wall, or on a signboard. They usually have threaded steel studs on their back surface that can be inserted into holes drilled into the mounting surface. They can be mounted flush with the surface or can be elevated from it to allow Halo lighting. We offer a wide variety of customized letter and number shapes, sizes, and font styles.
We can carve these in either 2-D relief (like "Center" and "Crab House" in the picture above), in 2.5-D two-level relief (i.e., where the border of the letter can be raised or depressed, like " "Water" in the picture above), or in 3-D bas-relief (e.g., letter strokes with a prismatic profile, like "pub" in the picture above, or rounded, like "Cabelas"). We carve these letters from High-Density-Urethane (HDU) , which can be painted, or they can be plated with bronze, brass or aluminum metals, or gilded with gold, silver or copper leaf. Alternatively, they can be carved from several wood species, which can be stained and/or painted, with a Dibond or aluminum backer for extra strength. We specialize in large custom letters and numbers from 3 inches to 8 feet high. These carved letters and numbers are 0.5 inches to 8 inches thick, depending on their height and how they are mounted .Their prices depends primarily on letter size and style .
These letters and numbers are CNC router carved, hand sanded, prime coated and either painted or stained (for wood), and then clear-coated. They are weather and moisture resistant, have a warranty of 2 years, and will easily last at least 20 years with minimal maintenance.
Product Line 4 - Aluminum, Steel & Wrought Iron Posts, Finials & Bases, and Scroll Brackets
In this Product Line 4 we offer unique and exquisite hand-crafted custom steel. wrought iron and aluminum scroll brackets, hangers, posts and sign stands which interface with signs and plaques in our other Product Lines, for no-hassle sign installations. These can be custom-fitted to each of the sign shapes and sizes we offer, if you order the scroll bracket, post or stand at the same time as you do the sign. We offer a wide selection of top-quality standard wrought iron and aluminum hardware plus many custom wrought iron products we make in-house. These supports, brackets fixtures enable you to install your sign with minimum effort. All holes, chain lengths, etc. are already place correctly and adjusted to fit your sign's size, shape, and thickness. All of these products that are designed for outdoor use are either powder coated or coated with a special corrosive-protection primer, and then painted with two coats of Matthews metal enamels in your choice of six colors (in-house products). All of these wrought iron products may be ordered with or without a sign.
Product Line 4A - Wood Sign Posts, Horizontal Beams, and Sign Supports
We make custom square, rectangular and round wood posts, and also upper or lower horizontal wood support beams connected to a single or double post arrangement, which can support a sign from above (hanging sign) or below (sign rests on beam). Our wood posts can be interfaced with the aluminum or steel scroll brackets described in Gallery 4. (see Fig, 2 below) We also make custom and standard aluminum and steel posts and brackets described in Gallery 4.
Wood posts and beams are generally thicker and more substantial than aluminum and steel posts and beams/brackets, and can be made to look more elegant, or for some signs, they can have a rustic look that aluminum or steel hardware cannot achieve. They are generally lower in price, but require more frequent maintenance (painting or varnishing) and do not last as long. Because they are fairly heavy, they are more expensive to ship. Some customers buy wood posts locally (e.g., 4 x4 's), but more elaborate wood posts, structures and supports require specialty lumber products and may require complex routing for joining.
Product Line 5 - Large Wood, HDU, HDPE & Aluminum Signs
We design, build and install custom large redwood, cedar, HDU, aluminum, Color-Core HDPE, Aluminum, and DIBOND ,signs on a custom basis . We have a complete integrated in-house capability for computer graphics design, vinyl mask and stencil cutting, sandblasting, precision sawing, power sanding, CNC routing, hand-carving and hand-sanding, gold leaf gilding, and airbrush and detailed artist brush painting.
We specialize in all types of dimensional signs, with a variety of advanced design features such as carved and vinyl decal art and text appliques, sandblasted or routed incised (i.e., engraved ) letters and art, sandblasted backgrounds with and without grain patterns, bas-relief multi-layer sandblasted/hand-carved/or CNC routed and hand-painted Carved Art and high-relief HDU sculpture appliques which are hand-carved and hand-sanded. We paint our signs with the finest enamel paints (1-SHOT) or Matthews MAP acrylic polyurethane (2 part automotive-type paint), or stains and varnishes (wood only). We can metal plate (bronze, brass, copper, stainless steel, or aluminum) all or part of a large sign. We can also gild applique or incised letters or art with 24 K gold, fine silver, or copper leaf.
We can either provide the sign for you to install on your own support structure, or we can build the sign support structure ). We design and build support structures from Redwood, Cedar, Douglas Fir, steel, and aluminum. There are discounts for three or more identical or similar signs.
Product Line 6 - EPS Monument and Wood, HDU and HDPE Entrance Signs
We sell three types of monument or entrance signs, which are large, freestanding roadside or entrance signs mounted near the ground. These are as follows:
(A) Post & Panel.These signs are supported by wood or wrought iron (steel posts), sometimes with lateral bottom or back beams. Posts typically vary from 4 inches in width (4 x 4's) to as much as 12 inches in width.The sign itself (the panel) is usually 2.5-D or 3-D sandblasted or carved HDU or wood, described in Product Line 5. Less expensive ones have 2-D aluminum, MDO or PVC-foam signs mounted on them. Wrought iron supports can have scrolls on them.
(B) Masonry Monument Signs. These usually have masonry bases, often with side pillars, which can be made with a poured concrete/rebar, concrete block or brick core (sometimes large ones have a hollow wood frame core) mounted on a concrete slab or footer foundation, and faced with one of the following: molded concrete, real stone, brick, stucco, marble, or ceramic tile, . We do not build these masonry monument bases, but we do build HDU, wood or metal-plated signs or letters that are mounted on them.
(C) EPS Foam Monuments. These have the same appearance as solid concrete monument signs ((B) above) but are less expensive and are much faster and easier to install. A variety of exterior surfaces is available, including faux stone, brick, stucco and marble. They have a hard protective coating over an EPS foam interior and are rugged and durable, and will last for decades. Like (B), they can have a variety of sign faces, including sandblasted or carved HDU, wood, or ceramic tile, and can also have stand-off letters installed on the sign face. The integrated assembly is ready for simple installation (only takes 2 or 3 hours) by the buyer or a handyman contractor; however, we can arrange a contractor to install these signs at locations in the US
Product Line 7 - Metal-Plated (Bronze, Brass, Copper, Aluminum, Gold & Silver) Plaques & Signs
We make metal-plated signs and plaques of various types (bronze, brass, aluminum, copper, silver-nickel, gold, silver) which cover a substrate carved from high-density-urethane (HDU).
Our bronze, brass, aluminum and nickel-silver metal-plated plaques are most popular, and are alternatives to solid cast or precision machined bronze or brass plaques, which we also sell, described in Gallery 7A below. These metal-plated wall or podium plaques can have either raised and sculptured 3-D carved bas-relief art (similar to Product Line 2), beveled or V-cut engraved text , or 2.5-D raised art and text, sometimes called multi-level flat raised relief (similar to Product Line 1) . These metal-plated signs and plaques are suitable for both outside and inside use for memorials, dedications, monuments, government and public buildings, museums, historical buildings, informational displays, and great seals or logos on the walls of government buildings . Smaller versions are suitable for walls in lobbies, offices, conference rooms, and podiums.
These metal-plated plaques are roughly 1/2 to 1/3 the cost of cast bronze or brass plaques, look very similar, and last 30 years or more. They are also much lighter, so are easier to install on walls. They cannot be walked on, however, or frequently touched or rubbed because the metal plating may wear off over many years. . Also included in this Product Line 7 are metal-plated cut-out letters or art appliques mounted on a HDU substrate.
We also make gold-, silver-, and copper-leaf gilded plaques and signs. Fully covered gold-leaf and silver-leaf gilded plaques are the most expensive. We usually cover only a small fraction of the plaque with gold or silver leaf (such as V-carved text or a 3-D art applique); these have much lower prices than fully gilded plaques.
Product Line 7A - Solid Cast, Precision Machined, and Photo-Etched Bronze, Brass and Aluminum Plaques
We sell solid cast and precision machined bronze, brass and aluminum engraved, 2.5-D, and 3-D plaques, signs and separate letters, These are the only plaques we do not manufacture in-house. We design them, including interfacing with the client on custom designs, and we may paint them or apply a patina, and if required, we integrate them with wood, aluminum plate, or HDU signboards, which may include other text and artwork not on the metal plaque. These solid metal plaques are fabricated by well-known wholesale foundries such as Gemini and ARK Ramos We also use other metal plaque foundries and fabricators , depending on the type of plaque and lead times available from the foundry.
Solid cast or precision machined metal plaques will last a lifetime. 3-D cast plaques are considerably more expensive and take longer to make, up to 10 weeks, than the bronze-, brass- and aluminum-plated HDU plaques described in Gallery 7, which look virtually identical to solid metal plaques. Solid metal plaques are also 3 to 10 times heavier than the metal-plated HDU plaques described in Gallery 7, which is an important factor when installing on a interior wood wall or drywall. We recommend solid metal plaques rather than metal-plated HDU plaques for most outdoor installations because they are more durable in cold or wet environments, last longer without maintenance, are less likely to be damaged from graffiti or vandalism, and are very resistant to people rubbing or touching them repeatedly. However, because they are much less expensive and lighter, we recommend metal-plated HDU plaques for most indoor locations (although they will last many years outdoors) , and they should be mounted out of reach of people repeatedly touching or rubbing them (e.g, in a courtroom above a judge's bench, or in a home), because the thin metal veneer will eventually wear through when the plaque is repeatedly rubbed.
Product Line 8 - Flat Aluminum Printed & Painted and Corten Steel Incised Metal Signs
Our aluminum signs range in size from 6 inches to 15 ft wide. They have thickness from 0.08 inches to .050 inches, and unlike most of are signs, are flat and 2-D (i.e not carved or engraved). They can have text and art applied to the aluminum in 3 different ways. either (1) painted with long-lasting Matthews MAP acrylic polyurethane paint (for very large signs), (2) directly printed using uv inks by a large format flatbed printer (for small or medium size signs) or(3) for traffic signs, using digitally printed long-lasting vinyl appliques which can be made highly reflective so as to be seen at night with headlights (e.g., as stop signs) which use long-lasting cast vinyl appliques made by 3M or Oracal.
We make weathering steel signs, from 1 ft to 12 ft wide, and also Corten steel posts. Letters and artwork are cut out (incised) of the sign face with a CNC laser or waterjet machine , so the background scene can show through, or alternatively, another Corten sheet is welded on the back, as is shown in the picture above. Corten Steel is a group of steel alloys that are often used in outdoor construction, including signs and posts. It was designed to eliminate the need for painting and if left outside, exposed to the elements, it will develop a rusted appearance in just a few months.. The increased resistance of Corten Steel to atmospheric corrosion makes this product a great choice for outdoor signs and posts. The layer protecting the surface develops and regenerates continuously when subjected to the influence of weather; the steel is allowed to rust in order to form the protective coating. This sign achieves its reddish-orangish color because a surface layer of rust forms because of oxidation and moisture, protecting the steel underneath from further deterioration and eliminating the need for paint. We make Corten steel signs and posts primarily for national parks . They make great directional and trail signs.
Product Line 9 - Color Core HDPE Signs and Plastic Wood HDPE Signs & Posts
We make many of our rugged , low-maintenance outdoor signs where 3-D or 2.5-D multi-level raised relief is not required by using a High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) material called King ColorCore®. It is a versatile multi-color engravable high-density polyethylene sheet, either 0.5" or 0.75" thick, with three layers of contrasting colors which is used to make durable, color-fast signs with engraved text , borders and artwork. It will withstand the harshest outdoor conditions. ColorCore® will not rust, delaminate or rot when exposed to UV, humidity or water. Its thin cap layers and bright primary colors make it ideal for signage for marine, playground, golf course, traffic signs, and recreational applications. The polymer sheet never needs painting or refinishing because the color is impregnated into the resin of the plastic.. HDPE carves like HDU or wood and it is easy to fabricate using common woodworking tools and techniques. The material is easy to engrave and machine with our CNC routers.
We also make plastic wood HDPE signs and posts. Like Color Core HDPE, these are engraved. Plastic wood boards are typically 1" to 2" thick, compared to 0.5" and 0.75" thickness for Color-Core. They do not come in large sheets like Color-Core, but come in separate boards up to 12" wide. Plastic wood boards and posts are homogenous, and do not have a center section with a different color like Color-Core, their color is built into the material. They are made out of recyclable HPTE plastic like milk bottles, and contain fiberglass reinforcements embedded in the HDPE. They are most suitable for natural and rustic applications, such as parks, campgrounds, trails, and other areas where a natural wood look is desired. They offer major advantages over wood because they do not require maintenance or repainting, These signs and posts do not rot, split, rack or fade from UV. They are completely waterproof. They are stronger than wood, when structural designs that use internal fiberglass reinforcement are selected. Plastic wood boards are often used for decks, outdoor park benches, and marine applications. Plastic wood signs and posts are available in a variety of colors that eliminates the need to stain or paint but most often customers select brown or tan to resemble real wood.