Making The That’s Original MDF Sign

This is a little project I made for my wife’s sewing business a while ago. It’s a 3D MDF sign of her logo. This was a really fun project – it would have been a lot easier with a bandsaw but at the time I didn’t have one so I used my jigsaw table.

You can watch the whole build video on YouTube here:

Making a Sign out of MDF - the That's Original sign

A jigsaw table is a jigsaw mounted upside down and can be used as a dangerous alternative to a bandsaw. A bandsaw has many advantages over a jigsaw table but used carefully the jigsaw table can be a lot safer than trying to cut small pieces with a jigsaw the normal way ’round.

I started off by printing the logo text in a black outline. This was printed out using a normal laser printer and glued to a sheet of 12mm standard MDF using spray glue. The scale of the text was used to dictate the size of the overall sign, so the rest of the dimensions of the logo were scaled up based on the size of the text.

Two square sheets of 12mm MDF were cut out, the mid-points were found using the diagonals and the centre points marked on the sides using a square. The size of the serrated edges were scaled up from the original logo and drawn out on the MDF. Both pieces of MDF were clamped together and both pieces were carefully cut at the same time using a jigsaw.

Each letter was roughly cut out using the jigsaw table. Then each letter was very carefully cut out as close to the line as possible. Outside curves were cut slightly big as these are easy to sand down to the line afterwards. Inside curves were roughly cut to remove most material before being finished off by hand using a coping saw. Straight cuts were made accurately using the jigsaw table. You have to be very careful sanding small pieces like this on a disc sander as they can get jammed between the disc and the support plate – not to mention your fingers, so a sacrificial piece of MDF was used to ensure zero clearance. Any additional ‘tweaking’ of the letters was done using a selection of fine files. The letters and backing boards were undercoated using water-based acrylic primer.

The needle was made from a piece of dowel wood and a sharp tip carefully added using the belt sander. This was also primed using the same paint as before. A piece of PVC pipe was carefully cut in half using the jigsaw table and curved mitres added to each end. The first backing board was painted with emulsion (latex) paint in a colour matched pink with a matt finish. The letters and other backing board was given a second coat of matt white paint. A round bolt-cap was used as the end for the needle – again primed and then painted with a yellow latex paint.

2 part resin filler was used to hold the needle (wooden dowel) in the centre of the PVC pipe (now painted). Frogtape was cut in to small strips and used as a mask to paint the zigzags on the second backing board. Again, these were painted carefully using colour matched latex paint. The needle / resin filler combo was glued on to the pink backing board in the correct position and the PVC cover glued on top. The edges of the PVC pipe were blended into the backing board using Sticks Like S*it adhesive. Once dry this was painted with the same pink latex paint. The two backing boards were glued together in the correct positions and the yellow ‘needle cap’ was glued on. A hairdryer was used to accelerate some of the paint drying.

Before the letters were glued on a hanging hook was added to the back along with sticky-back felt to hold it slightly away from the wall. Finally the letters were very carefully glued on using CA glue (superglue).

The original text was printed out, cut out and placed on the backing board in the correct positions so that start and end points could be delicately marked with a pencil. Frogtape was used to temporarily mark straight horizontal lines, the first and last letters were glued in place in line with the pencil marks added earlier before laying the rest of the letters out dry to check all the letter positions looked correct – this was just done by eye. Once I was happy with all letter positions the remaining ones were glued in place. Guide masking was removed, pencil marks were painted over using a fine paint brush and that was it all ready for installation!

Last updated: 2 Jan 2017
Originally published: 2 Jan 2017


Andy Mac
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