This week I wanted to have a go at making an old fashioned marquee board sign – you know, the kind they have outside old cinemas – to let people know if anyone was in or out at the Nice-Cuts workshop.
I had a look around and felt inspired by Alda Escaroño’s design which I found on youtube. Alda made her’s out of Acrylic – it looks lovely, but for prototyping and experimenting I prefer to use cheaper MDF.
In her design, Alda uses uses raster etch to create a groove for the spacer bars to sit in place, with the rails then sitting on top of these spacers. She then uses methylene chloride to stick her spacers and rails to the base board. As she explains, this is a colourless liquid solvent that is perfect for sticking two acrylic parts as it dissolves the surface and fuses them together. However, as I had chosen to make my sign from MDF and prefer not to use glue if possible I decided to change the design to incorporate a ‘teeth and holes’ pattern. I’m using 3mm MDF, so for aesthetic reasons I space the 3mm square holes 3mm apart! So that the pieces fit together tightly without falling apart, I make the teeth fractionally wider at the centre so they’ll grip snugly in their holes. This looks so much nicer than glue!
I make the spacer bar is 3.25 mm wide (excluding the teeth on either side which are a further 3mm each side – so 9.25 altogether) to allow plenty of space for the letter tiles to slot comfortably into the rails with no friction. I make sure the etching of the letter tiles will not be obscured by the rails in any other way. I chose a simple font that would be speedy for the laser cutter to etch – I’m always too impatient – but you could use a prettier font or solid raster etch to make the letters stand out more.
Trickiest part of the project? …Anticipating which letters you might need so you don’t run out!!! – Hence ‘not enough Cs’. Counter to what this picture would suggest, our website is most definitely www.nice-cuts.COM, not .gom.
Upon completing this project I discovered Alda had actually uploaded her file for download on Instructables. Whoops! I drew mine from scratch so this might have saved me some time. However, it wasn’t tricky and I was pleased with the alterations I made. Give it a go!
Future project idea: I might try a version using frosted acrylic and a light box behind so it’s lights up just like at the cinema!