Merry Dragon pub sign – part two

In my last post we started the Merry Dragon Pub sign. We started with the main part of the sign. Today we’ll go on to the welded steel bracket and the post that supports it.

The bracket started as a freehand sketch, done on my iPad in Photoshop. As I worked I thought about a number of things. The first was how we would mount the sign faces. This would be done by extending tabs off of the tip of the flames coming from it’s mouth. The flames and the centre layer of the dragon body would be cut from half inch thick steel on our MultiCam plasma cutter. The dragon details would be cut from 1/4″ steel in three layers (per side) and laminated together to form the sturdy bracket. That bracket in turn would be welded to the top cap and side piece of steel which would encapsulate the top, bottom and one side of the post. The post  in turn would be cut from 30 lb Precision Board.

I traced (by hand) the dragon bracket and then used various drawing tools to create the layers.

To clarify the layers I’ve color coded them in the next image. The yellow shape was cut from 1/2″ steel plate. The next layer is orange. The red layer is red and forms the red outline of the dragon body. The wings (blue) and eyes (black) go on top of that. The arms (brown) will be bent and welded to the body and the steel cap on the post.

Here’s a picture of the heavy steel bracket assembled. It went together in mere minutes. I welded it on the top and bottom and then did a little grinding to make things smooth once more.

When I cut the centre pieces for the sign face I cut some pockets into them. The large ‘H’ shaped pocket was filled with a similar shaped welded fitment of 2″ x 2″ square tubing. The extended steel tabs on the flames were welded to the bottom of this ‘H’ shaped steel structure.

Next up was the post. While in the drawing it looks square I really wanted this post to be a little tapered. By using one of the bitmap modifiers I could also get some serious bend in the piece. The file was created using vectors for the shop, the raised leaves and vine as well as the top and bottom caps

By using the white to black to white bitmap fade I got some nice curve to the board. This is what it looked like in the front view of the relief.

After they came off the MultiCam I ran them upside down through my table saw with the blade set to a 45 degree angle. The cuts came out nice and crisp. The pieces fit together neatly and achieved the exact slightly cartoonized look I was going for.

Then it was a simple matter to glue the pieces together. It will take very little hand work to make the grains match up perfectly.

I also used EnRoute to create the vector files for the plasma cut steel for the top cap and bottom ring of the post. These pieces were all cut from 1/4″ steel plate on the MultiCam CNC plasma cutter. I cut the pieces but won’t be assembling them until tomorrow. Stay tuned…

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Dan Sawatzky

Dan Sawatzky is best described as a creative force in the sign industry. He and his wife Janis are owners of Sawatzky’s Imagination Corporation – a small family company that specializes in the design and creation of dimensional theme signs and environments. They tackle projects of any size from small signs to entire theme parks. Their work has garnered numerous international awards and Dan’s articles appear frequently in the sign trade publications. Dan and his crew also host Sign Magic and Sculpting Workshops in their studio a number of times each year with attendees coming from around the world. For more information please visit www.imaginationcorporation.com

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