The idea of the Harmony Garden Sign started around October, when Sandy Cogan, my friend and the wonderful lady that is in charge of the Harmony Garden, said that we were getting funds from the Farmer’s Market to make a new sign for the community garden. One side of the previous signs had been lost to the elements and was in dire need of replacement. The good side of the sign was taken down and put on the side of the shed. Since the request was for the new sign to be made of wood, Sandy naturally thought I could handle getting it done because I belong to the Woodworker’s Guild. I was a bit less confident, but figured I could get help at the Guild if it were needed. Sandy and I worked together on determining what we wanted on the sign and Sandy hand sketched the letters and vegetable pieces to full size so I would be able to scroll them out. We didn’t want to use the CNC plotter or something else that would make perfect exact letters, we wanted the artistic quality of doing letters individually. There were a few style changes to a couple of the letters along the way, but most were the original ones that Sandy drew. The numbers didn’t do as well in an artistic letter style, so I found a simple, clean design online.
I was able to get assistance from my friend Jim Gilreath, one of the Guild supervisors, in wood selection and the actual construction of the sign. We picked Sapele wood for the sign base and Curly Maple for the letters and veggies. I wanted to pick woods that would have a better chance of survival in an outdoor environment and had a good contrast in color so the letters would show easily.
Jim and I did all the typical wood prep, jointer/planer, and had the Sapele fashioned into six boards. We created a slot down the middle of each board and made ribs to go in the slots so we would have a strong, even joint when we glued the pieces together. We glued up three pieces at a time and later glued the two halves together. It is a good thing there are always plenty of people at the Guild because after that point every time we wanted to turn the sign over, we needed to grab a couple of other people to help us out – the sign is rather heavy. I cut out all the letters, numbers, and shapes out of the Curly Maple. The vegetable pieces went to Sandy for oil painting, so we could add a little splash of color to the sign. Jim and I put end caps, also made with the Sapele, on each side of the sign for a cleaner look and better protection from the elements. Then the finish… sanding, routing, and finally gluing and pin nailing on of all the pieces. I kept checking to make sure I didn’t do a stupid and get the letters out of order. After assembly there were many, many trips to the Guild to put on the varnish coats. We selected a marine grade varnish with extra UV-filter. After completion, the sign was picked up by the City of Simpsonville folks and they went about trying to figure how to put it up at the garden. We hope the sign will last for many years to come.