Melissa Jones, proprietor of Nice Carvings (Baxter, MN) has progressed from a garage-based operation into a national entity. It now maintains sales offices in NYC and Palo Alto, CA. Working with her husband, Jason, Melissa has produced signs for Hollywood movie sets such as The Heat and The Green Hornet, as well as celebrity motorcycle chopper Paul Teutel Jr. In between, the shop has fabricated environmental graphics for city welcome signs, storefront panels, retail graphics and numerous other sign applications.
“I attribute 95% of our new business to tireless, nationwide marketing through website and social-media channels,” she said. “We’re proud to have earned frequent repeat business and referrals, of course.”
Having found Nice Carvings through its website, the State Bar Assn. of North Carolina, headquartered in Raleigh, the state capital, hired the shop to fabricate two, 4-ft.-diameter, state-seal signs for its recently constructed State Bar Courthouse. Instead of HDU, which is Melissa’s normal medium, she fabricated the signs using cherry wood, which the Bar Assn. specified because the trees are native to the Piedmont region, which runs through the central areas of Virginia and the Carolinas. She sourced the cherrywood through Minneapolis-based Siwek Lumber.
“HDU is nicknamed ‘butter board’ for a reason,” she said. “Without a grain, it cuts and machines almost effortlessly. Working with cherry was night and day. I put a lot of hours into carving the center pieces, and used many different shapes and sizes of bits on my handheld router.”
Melissa designed the sign using Vectric Aspire 2-D and 3-D software; they’ve been her software of choice almost since Vectric’s 2008 inception. She lauds the programs as being intuitive and a major asset to Nice Carvings’ success. To form the panels, Melissa began with 2-in.-thick cherrywood planks, which she pieced together via a biscuit joint and wood glue.
The seal’s 3-D elements were initially handcarved with HDU, and she scanned the graphics in Aspire before uploading the files into the shop’s Hytek Tools CNC router, and then machined the parts. Crafting the signface and graphics required a combination of tools – in addition to her handheld and CNC routers, Melissa used a Dremel tool, power sanders and nail files to shape the faces.
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