Letters for a cast "Camp" sign

In New England, your vacation house is a “Camp” even when some of them are quite grand. A tradition is that you can post your name on a sign at the turnoff of the road leading to your property. This means the turnoff for your “camp” often will have a dozen or so name signs in various states of repair.

A buddy of mine is a “Pattern Maker” - he makes wooden patterns for sand casting. Like turbine housings and old decorative features and such. I am always impressed to see the blue print turned into a pattern - which then is used to create the mold for the sand cast of some metal. It is a dying profession, edged out by 3d printing, CNC and such.

My buddy asked if I could whip up some letters for his ‘camp’ sign, that he could then use to create the pattern for the sand cast, with the final sign in aluminum. He gave me the rough size he was looking for - 24 " wide with the letters about 1/2 inch high.

Hence the two images in the picture. The letters I created and the the finished result.

To make 1/2 inch letters easily, I used two layers of hardboard. I love hard board. It is cheap and lets me test burn a lot before using pretty wood.

The letters I whipped up in Inkscape. That would have been really quick, except I wanted two layers with the topmost inset a bit. And I wanted registration holes so I could line up the letters. Oh, yes, and because the letters ended up about 24 inches wide, I wanted to cut them in two passes, preserving the waste outline so that we could preserve the original font layout/spacing. I had some real issues with Inkscape losing the letters when I inset, but I finally got it to work with outset.

I was pretty happy with the result. I tried a bunch of fonts and liked this one the best. The stair step on the edge of the letters is a “high end detail you pay extra for” (said another of my friends). The family was very pleased with the result - it exceeded what they expected.

All in all, a fun day with Inkscape and the Glowforge.


Love to see that you used a laser to make a sand casting mold. Excellent combo of old and new tech :slight_smile:

The sign came out great.


Real impressive!

That looks really cool.

It made me laugh because my in-laws have two beach houses in Maine that they call “cottages” even though they’re a bit nicer than a cottage. They just sold the family “camp” that my husband’s grandfather built, although I guess that really was more of a rustic sort of place. I never got to see it.

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Ooohh, it would be neat if your friend would allow you to post photos of his shop, workbench and tools. And maybe even some of his other projects!!!

His shop is amazing. All these old cast iron bases for things like table saws. Every time I go there, the theme song to Heavy Metal runs though my head for a bit. Not the neatest shop, unlike some I have seen that are pristine.

That said - he mostly uses a simple set of tools to transform a block of wood into something neat. Simple tools and a lot of experience. Imagine also having to take into account the metal to be pored - as you take into account different shrinkage.

Will have to talk to him to see if he has any examples.

That would be GREAT!!!

Pattern Makers and Machinists built this country’s industrial capability and like you said, it is becoming a lost art.

I have a pattern makers work bench from Ford’s Willow Run Bomber plant near Detroit that was used to make the molds for all the B-24 Liberator airplane parts. A B-24 rolled off the production line every 58 minutes, a mind boggling accomplishment that we can’t do today.

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That sign should stand up through the years.