Mythbusters Sign


Sr Member
I finally found a few minutes to finish this little project. Sign is about 6 in. x 24 in. and is made of styrene sheet. This was an easy and inexpensive prop build well within anybody's abilities. The finished sign gets instant recognition from visitors. I will be happy to elaborate if anyone wants help building their own!

id definitely be interested in how you achieved the look. ive been thinking about a few different ways to go about it myself and welcome the guidance
I agree with all posted above, if you have the time, please make a tut or some kind of instructions.

Thanks for the compliments! This really was an easy project. Sorry I didn't document my progress with WIP photos. Here's what I did:

I started by grabbing a few pictures I found with Google Images. Just search for “Mythbusters sign.” I selected a few of the larger file size images so I had some resolution to work with. Note: I believe that there were 3 signs originally made, and appear to be in a variety of sizes. You can see them in just about any of the Mythbusters episodes. Many of the images I found on line appear to be digital art created for marketing and advertising the show. I don’t know for sure, but there are several signs and they all look a little different. Mine is not an exact copy of any specific sign.

Using photo editing software (in my case it was Paint Shop Pro) I made a simple outline of the sign and letters by tracing my “borrowed” image. I made the outline on its own layer and, when finished, discarded the original image leaving me with the tracing. Of course, this could also be done freehand, or on tracing paper over a print, or however. I then played around with the size of the image until I could print it at my desired length (24 inches). You could also size up a small image with a series of enlargements on a copy machine. The letters are a bit rough so this is not a real critical operation (see, easy and forgiving starter project…).

My sign is made from two layers of ¼ inch white sheet styrene that was left over from another project. The first layer is the sign backing itself, as said, it is about 6 inches x 24 inches. The second layer is the 11 letters. I believe that Adam Savage had recently posted that he made the original signs from 1/8 inch steel. If I were to do this again, I would certainly use the thinner material. It would make cutting the letters easier! I traced the letters from my 1:1 print onto the styrene. I simply placed the paper print on top of the plastic and traced the letters with a nice new wet Sharpie. The ink soaked thru the paper and transferred the letter outline onto the styrene. You could also cut out the paper letters and trace around them or use carbon paper (that stuff still available??).

I rough-cut the letters out with a jigsaw. A coping saw, scroll saw or band saw would also work. Since I had quickly rough-cut the letters, I dressed the edges to the final shape with a small circular sanding drum on my Dremel. Don’t be too concerned with perfection here, the letters (and entire sign) exhibit a rough, handmade look to them.

Letters were bonded to the sign with MEK. Any liquid styrene cement will work. I prefer a chemical “weld” but epoxy or ACC would probably work. Keep in mind, the sign (especially at 1/8 inch thick) will be somewhat flexible, you don’t want letters popping off! Once all the letters were bonded in place I used coarse (80 grit) abrasive paper to create “grinder” marks in the top surfaces of the letters. I was sure to keep them at a consistent angle. The illusion after paint isn’t bad.

The next detail was the welds around the letters. Because of all the rust, it is very hard to see what the actual welds look like. I have tried a variety of materials to make fake welds (needed on the GB Proton Pack I recently finished) and have not found any material or technique that I really like. Since these welds are crusted under rust, I used the old “hot glue” fake weld trick. Can’t say the fillet of globby hot glue really looks like a weld, but its good enough for me, for this project. You might try epoxy putty or Sculpy to sculpt your welds.

The last dimensional detail I added was crusty rust texture. I used a couple of old paint brushes and bits of sponge to stipple on some DAP vinyl spackle. This stuff is cheap (any hardware store) and is great for adding texture to things you are going to paint. It dries very quickly and can be thinned or cleaned up (even after drying) with water. I just applied a few layers of this material around the letters where I wanted rust to appear.

I painted the entire sign with Krylon Fusion (for plastics) Nickle Shimmer. Hadn’t used Fusion before and had wanted to try it. Krylon claims a chemical bond with the plastic and recommends no primer. Its too early to say how durable the finish is, but so far I have not had any problems, and I like the color.

When the Krylon had dried (overnight) I created the rust color with several washes of acrylic craft paints. Burnt umber, black, red, browns and orange were used. Go look at something rusty and study the colors. The acrylics are forgiving and wash up with water before they dry. Using a lot of water and a little color you can create various strength washes. Build up the colors slowly and you will get a more realistic effect. I finished up after the colors had dried with a little drybrushed orange here and there.

See? Nothing complicated. Give it a shot and post your results!
Would you be able to post a close up shot of the 'welds' and some of the rough parts please?
Here you go. Using thinner materials for the letters and finding a better way to create the welds will improve your sign. You might also want to go heavier on the rust texture. For me, this was sufficient, as this prop will not be handled up close, just hung on the wall. I'd rather get it finished and move on to the million other things I have on my workbench than obsess over the welds!
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