Illuminated exterior sign

Ive been asked by a friend for a price on an exterior grade illuminated sign for his business as the bids hes gotten from the pros have been a little too rich for him as his business is still growing. I think I have the method figured out but id like some feedback.

To give a sense of scale the sign would be made up of a logo and three words spanning a total length of approx 20ft with each letter being approx 16" tall.

The first option I gave him is an non-illuminated sign that would use separate up-lights in his landscaping. this would be done with 1/2" marine grade plywood protected with totalboat penetrating epoxy and painted with exterior grade paint. each letter would get cut out separately and would be secured to a backer board that would get attached to the exterior wall.

Now, I know how I would do a small scale illuminated sign, stack layers of plywood and acrylic like this project:

but it seems like an overly complicated way to make something this large. I am thinking that building a “light box” with a translucent white acrylic face and simply gluing/securing the letter cutouts to the face of this box would be more feasible.

Any input would be helpful!

Just cutting into acrylic with a V bit and then lighting the acrylic from its edges with LED strips produces good results.

This is a small example

This method does work quite well even with large pieces of acrylic.

1 Like

That’s a lot of acrylic…maybe make each letter it’s own “illuminated sign”?


I would consider pvc in place of marine plywood.

1 Like

I have used Corian for outside shelving.
It cuts beautifully.

Love the video.

Any progress on the sign?

What type of bit and feeds/speeds do you use with Corian?

Use the same bits and speeds as you would use for wood.
It cuts like butter.
I made these for my daughter.


Some progress. I came to the conclusion that the most affordable way to make a sign like this would be to NOT light each letter individually as it’s doable but would very labor intensive with an xcarve size/depth limit.

I made a prototype sign of how I’d construct it, here is a pic of it.

This method can easily be scaled by individually cutting the letters from 1/4 or 1/2 material and securing them to a larger sign panel.

I’ve also learned of the existence of exterior grade MDF which seems like a good option for a painted application.

1 Like

I can see where lighting up each letter would be very labor intensive, I have never tried the exterior MDF, I will have to do a google search. Mark mentioned PVC in place of plywood, PVC works good for exterior signs and you can also paint it to the color you need. HDU is a great material to use but its expensive, I cut some numbers out over the weekend using 1 inch HDU and it cut great on the X-Carve. Good luck with your project and take pictures during and after.


Are you telling us you cut those letters on the XCarve?

No problem carving relief patterns (3D topside) using Xcarve.
Easel wont be able to make those files but other programs do + export gcode that Easel can accept.

Did you just use a rounder bit?

Yes I cut those on the X-Carve and used a half inch round over bit on the edges.The bit that I used to cut them out is in the router, it’s a half inch cut with a quarter inch shaft. I purchased the bit in a set from the big box store.
The reason I used a half inch bit to cut them out is because the round over bit that I have has a half inch bearing on it and I wanted all the edges to be rounded.
The round over bit was used on my router table, the numbers were cut out straight on the X-Carve.

1 Like