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Need advice on forming letters

Discussion in 'Electric Signs & Channel Letters' started by biggmann, Dec 14, 2013.

  1. biggmann

    biggmann Member

    Sep 8, 2011
    Brantford Ontario
    I was "thrown" into making the channel letters for our shop, I have the backs routed and using .040 (I believe) for he returns. Now I have no problems making the right angle letters "E", "T", "I" etc. Now the problem is rounding the curved letters like "R" "S", what is the trick to doing these? I have three different size pipes to form the aluminium around but not all letters are just a curve, the R I am working on curves then goes straight for a slight piece then curves again, I cannot for the life of me get this curve right. Is there a trick to this or just time to get it right. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    I have also seen different types online that use acrylic for the returns or very thin aluminium instead of the thicker aluminium I am using now, are those kits any good?
  2. Moze

    Moze Precision Sign Services

    Feb 27, 2012
    Dallas, TX
    In my opinion, it's not really something you can learn on a forum. You really need to work alongside someone that can teach you the trade. Or just be prepared to go through a ton of trial and error until you get it right.

    .040" isn't considered thick. Most competitive quality sign shops use at least .040" on returns, .063" for larger letters.
  3. MikePro

    MikePro Major Contributor

    Feb 3, 2010
    Racine, WI
    rolling, not just bending, it over different-sized pvc pipes usually does the trick for me. kind-of like how you can't simply wind balloon ribbons around a pencil, to make them spring-y, but scraping a blade against it suggenly makes it want to curl like a fat-guy in the olympics.

    we also have a few hand-crank steel rollers that start the curve, and the rest is tweaked by-hand.

    tools&tricks, but ultimately a HUGE +1 to it being an experience that just comes with the trade....
  4. player

    player Major Contributor

    Apr 24, 2006
    Keep the curves absolutely vertical. If they angle things get out of whack.
  5. visual800

    visual800 Very Active Member

    Aug 4, 2010
    montgomery, alabama
    You need to get you a finger brake and some skillz watching others do it
  6. biggmann

    biggmann Member

    Sep 8, 2011
    Brantford Ontario
    I am trying to gt someone in here to show how to do these things, not much luck. It is going to be a lot of trial and error. Right now if I could afford it one of those auto benders you see at the sign show is looking pretty good.
  7. AceSignsOnline

    AceSignsOnline Member

    Apr 17, 2013
    Sorry to hear you're having such a tough time. As for the auto-benders, they are great and all, but they pose a whole new set of problems. I know that if they were truly automated and actually did what they were advertised to do, our production would be at least triple what it is now.

    Wish I had some profound wisdom to bestow upon you. Have you tried looking up some videos on YouTube? I know that even watching our automated bender has been invaluable in grasping the concept of how things would be done by hand.

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