Coastal Enterprises Precision Board HDU
Cam Andres says he chose Precision Board HDU for this sign because of its strength and stability.

Featured Project: A Landmark Sign That Lives Up to its Namesake


Orange, California-based Coastal Enterprises, manufacturers of Precision Board HDU, likes to feature projects on its website from customers who have used their products in creative ways. One such recent guest project was from Cam Andres, the founder of Multiwerks Design in Alberta, Canada.

Founded by Andres, Multiwerks is a digital design studio and CNC fabrication shop located in central Alberta. It’s a division of Tail Creek Automation Ltd.

A client approached Andres about making a sign for their spouse. They wanted to leave the creativity up to Andres with just one requirement: that it would read “The Smoke House on Hammer Head Ridge.”

“(The client) was familiar with other signs I had crafted and told me that the design was now in my hands,” Andres writes on the guest blog on Coastal’s website. “I was familiar with this house as it’s located in one of those picture-perfect locations that you can only dream about building your special place on. It sits high on a ridge that looks over the winding Red Deer River in Central Alberta Canada. The wind blows hard on this ridge at times, as the river valley tends to channel and amplify them more so. I requested pictures of their house from various angles as I envisioned using it as the focal point of the sign. I knew wind had to play an influence on the sign’s appearance. Its presence is constant and at times unrelenting.”

Hammer heads would also be a feature of the sign, he says, because of the land’s history. Prior to a house ever being there, the location was used as a hunting/gathering area for centuries by the indigenous people. Settlers moved in, and over the years the client’s spouse had discovered many hammer heads left there from generations before, and he collected and displayed these on the property. Finally, the name of the house factored in, as it had been used at one time as a training house for the local fire department—hence the name “The Smoke House.”

Andres says he was familiar with Precision Board high-density urethane and chose to use it for the sign because of its stability and strength. He became familiar with the product when he attended a “Sign Magic” workshop hosted by Dan Sawatzky, owner of British Columbia’s Imagination Corp., in 2014. 

“For this sign, I used 18# density and a combination of 1” and 1.5” thickness,” Andres says. “As the internal steel supporting structure is made from 1” square mild steel tubing, the back and middle laminations use the 1” thickness. The front of the sign is made from 1.5” thick HDU. The sign is 36” in diameter and was cut out of 4’ x 8’ stock sheets.”

He used EnRoute software from Salt Lake City-based SAi (SA International) to program his MultiCam CNC router.

“I am a real fan of epoxy sculpting clay and try to use it on everything that needs to look natural and not machine cut,” writes Andres. “Whenever I get a handful of Magic Sculpt mixed up, I usually have an idea of where I want it to go but sometimes we end up with something totally different once the imagination kicks into gear. As I mentioned, the wind has a real effect on the real smoke house and I used the distortion features of EnRoute to play on the wind bending everything and built it up more so with the sculpting epoxy. If you look at this sign from different angles, the distortion presents itself as a bit of a fisheye effect, totally acquired by accident.”

He used FSC-88WB as the primer for the Precision Board, and PB Fast Set for the bonding—both made by Coastal Enterprises.

The paint was almost all from Vernon Hills, Illinois’ Modern Masters, with the exception of acrylic latex paint used for the backside and the overall glazing, both of which came from Benjamin Moore Canada. The gilding was Oceanside, California’s Golden Leaf Products’ 23.75 real gold.

“Believe me, real gold behaves a lot different than fake gold when guilding and it took a few hours to get the rhythm going for me,” Andres writes. “The end result? Absolutely beautiful letters that jump off the sign!”

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