Case Study - Dimensional Signage


Daniel Gervais runs a dimensional sign workshop in Saint-Jean sur Richelieu, Quebec Canada. He began designing and making signs in 1999 with a simple sign for his own home and quickly realized how this new hobby could help him make a career change after 12 years as a welder. Dan was initially unsure whether dimensional sign making would be a profitable business, but encouraged by others he decided to follow this idea, Dan explains,

“Back then I would never have believed that I could make a very decent living from something as fun and creative as designing and making carved signs”

He had a lot to learn in a very short space of time,

“Everything seemed so difficult at first because I didn't even know how to run a computer”

Dan started by meeting a sign crafter who was leaving the business for retirement. He gave Dan some advice and some simple vector designs to help him get started. Dan initially designed the signs and outsourced all the cnc machining work.

“For the first three years I was getting all the routing done by a local cnc workshop. By the fourth year, my accountant advised me to think about finding a replacement for the cnc routing services ....I had given them over $25,000 that year.”

On the back of the financial advice, Dan decided to look into the possibilities of running a CNC machine himself. Dan explains.

“So many questions went through my mind, so I started surfing the web and found a local cnc router designer / builder. He told me I could be in business very soon since a new affordable and user friendly software was now available. That was the first time I heard the name Vectric."

"I worked with VCarve Pro right at his shop and he gave me the link to the trial version. After downloading the trial version I simulated many of my designs and quickly learned the process. Since then my cnc router has probably paid for itself at least three times.”

And goes on to say,

“What I like most about Vectric software are the updates and improvements with every new release. The new features likenesting and prismatic lettering, easily programmable inlays allow me to push the routing envelope and helps us increase the beauty of the designs we can now give our customers.”

The sign shown above is a recent project that Dan posted on the Vectric Forum. He kindly explains how he designed and routed this project using VCarve Pro.

Stage 1 - Import Vector Artwork

"With 3 years experience of designing with Corel Draw before owning VCarve Pro. I designed the layout in that software and then used VCarve’s easy importing tools and swiftly bring the eps file into VCarve Pro ready for calculating the toolpath strategies"

Stage 2 - Calculating and previewing toolpaths in simulation view

"After setting up toolpaths, using the toolpath simulation 3D view window is a must!

"It's a great way to make sure you won’t be wasting precious material and shop time."

This 4' X 12' sign was machined in two halves on the CNC router"

"We used features like prismatic lettering and ornaments. The letters are not glued, so this sign will not have letters falling off or messy drip marks under the letters. Nothing makes gold leaf stand out as much a prismatic letters. Add some drop shadows and voilà !!!"

Dan also uses Cut3D for more dimensional jobs and below are a few designs he has modelled with Sketchup, then exported as STL mesh files and machined using Cut3D:

“This project was a challenge to build, but the Model Slicing feature in Cut3D made it simple to get the model as light and cost effective as possible."

"The name of this Ice cream shop is “Daddy, Stop” so we had to make it look like the kids were really convincing! This one is a show stopper, people from everywhere (local highway 133 leads to U.S. highway 87) stop by to get pictured with the yellow car and screaming kids, and grab some Ice-cream...”


"On this next project, the camping site owner wanted a night time beach set-up and thanks to both VCarve (used to cut the back board) and Cut3D (for the dimensional elements), he got it!"

“Overall I'm very pleased with the Vectric software. It's fast, fun and I'm getting a great return on my investment !!”

Daniel Gervais, owner,seller, designer, cnc operator, welder, installer, and all in-between…

Visit the Wood & Passion Sign Workshop web site and see the fantastic work Daniel and his team are doing with their CNC router.





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