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Sign cabinet frame question

Discussion in 'Tips & Tricks' started by sinclairgraphics1, Dec 5, 2018.

  1. sinclairgraphics1

    sinclairgraphics1 Sinclair Graphics & Installations

    Mar 28, 2012
    Des Moines, IA
    Is there a general formula for a sign cabinet retainer to get the true dimension of the sign face you are changing out? When I measure them, I measure the whole cabinet then subtract about 1/2" from each side to give a little bit of play for the sign face to fit properly in the retainers of the cabinet. Obviously you could pop out the side piece of the frame but just curious if there's tried and true method.
  2. jsmoritz2000

    jsmoritz2000 Very Active Member

    There is a tried and true method and it's the one you just mentioned. Remove the retainer, slide the panel over enough to get both horizontal and vertical measurements and there you have it, a perfect fit. I see no reason to do it any other way, aside from laziness.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
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  3. KMC

    KMC Graphic Artist

    Feb 12, 2018
    if you have the measurements of the frame and its one of the following you can use the following:
    EX7 frame: 3/4" off the width 1" off the height
    EX12 frame: 3/8" off the width 3/8" off the height
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  4. Evan Gillette

    Evan Gillette Member

    Dec 5, 2018
    From what experience I have (not a ton) there are large variations in retainer design and panel clearance from manufacturer to manufacturer and even from sign to sign with the same manufacturer. Obviously the best replication is to measure the existing panel as you mentioned. Most manufacturers have a blurb about calculating "visible area" with their extrusions. So if you know the manufacturer of the cabinet you should be able to work backwards. It will only take one mistake though and you will measure every time, ask me how I know...
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  5. visual800

    visual800 Very Active Member

    Aug 4, 2010
    montgomery, alabama
    I always slide the panel PLUS a good thing about sliding it out is if its fitting very tight you will know to take about 1/4" off your new panel
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  6. sinclairgraphics1

    sinclairgraphics1 Sinclair Graphics & Installations

    Mar 28, 2012
    Des Moines, IA
    Yes, that's the way to go except when you are out doing estimates and don't have your lift/bucket with you. When using a ladder and you're up 15'-20', you cannot pull a 5'x10' sign out safely.
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  7. signbrad

    signbrad Member

    Jun 15, 2014
    Kansas City
    Always measure the plastic. Guessing is risky.
    Also, large faces on many better-built signs will have hanging bars. You don't want a hanging bar to be a surprise when you are ready to install just because you didn't want to take the time to pull retainers when surveying.

    In addition, if the sign was built the traditional way (angle iron frame with an aluminum skin), dimensions can vary considerably from standard "knock-down" kit dimensions. Lamp lengths have not always determined sign dimensions. For example, cabinets that were built to fit between existing poles may have been sized to fit the space exactly. Lamps were then fitted to the cabinet by adjusting the height of hat sections or even overlapping lamps. When overlapping lamps, you can put an opaque lamp sleeve over one of the lamps at the overlap to prevent a "hot spot."
    If U-lamps were used, a cabinet size can vary for that reason as well.

    Obviously, a custom-shaped face should be brought back to the shop to use as a template.

    Cold in Kansas City
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  8. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

    Mar 12, 2005
    New England
    "Yes, that's the way to go except when you are out doing estimates and don't have your lift/bucket with you. When using a ladder and you're up 15'-20', you cannot pull a 5'x10' sign out safely" Which is when you guesstimate the size and include the cost for a return trip to pull the faces in the quote, at which time you can also check out the fixtures and maybe get a service call out of the deal too.
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  9. Joe House

    Joe House Active Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    If you're just estimating, does that 1/2" or so in each dimension really make that much of a difference? Base your estimate off of the entire cabinet size.
  10. 2B

    2B Moderator

    May 5, 2011
    measure twice, cut once

    cabinets have too many variables to be "guessing" the size(s)
  11. spectrum maine

    spectrum maine Member

    Nov 1, 2012
    biddeford, maine
    most signcomps are 1/2-3/4" off from finished cabinet size
  12. Moze

    Moze Very Active Member

    Feb 27, 2012
    Dallas, TX
    Measure the v.o. of the face, write it down. Take a 3x5 index card, slide the left side of the card into the left side of the cabinet between the retainer and face until it stops against the outside edge of the retainer. Mark the card along the face side of the retainer with a pen. Put the top of the card in at the top, make your mark. Put the right side of the card in at the right, make your mark. Put the bottom in, make your mark. Measure your individual marks and add those dimensions to the v.o. for your cut size.

    If the face is DEFINITELY getting replaced and you need the face thickness and can't remove retainers due to being on a ladder or whatever, (might want to get the owner to sign off on this) use a step bit and drill a 1/2" - 3/4" hole at one of the bottom corners of the face. If you've seen enough faces, you can tell the thickness by looking at it.
  13. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

    Oct 21, 2016
    Frisco, TX
    You my friend, are the reason I read S101 posts! (That and Johnn'y s drawings) Great little trick with the card!

  14. oldgoatroper

    oldgoatroper Roper of Goats. Old ones.

    Jul 28, 2009
    There's been a few mentions of measuring the cabinet. The only time I'd measure a cabinet would be if I was manufacturing a new frame. Otherwise, stick to measuring the frame. Make sure you know what kind of frame it is for the purposes of sizing the plastic (as mentioned above) and -Important- determining what size/placement of hanging strips.

    And Yes, Moze's method is foolproof (or should be for most people -- lol)

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