The Competition is On – A Fish Tale

Our mentor from the North, Dan Sawatsky, has been posting a super cool project that he has been working on at  We saw that he was involved in a friendly competition with some other superstar sign makers and we wanted in.

The rules of the competition – create a sign for the “The Institute for the Study of Mechanical Marine Life”.  The only requirement is that the sign has the text on it and that it includes a mechanical fish of some sort. We have until September 2nd to make this a good one – we’ll have to do the work at night as we are extremely busy – but it will be a fun!

Game on!

So Brian and I did a little brainstorming. we would meet the above criteria – but we have to come up with something smoking hot that no one has ever seen. Remember who we are up against – some of the best guys in the business.

On this one I think we’ll have to start with a story.

The story unfolds like this… We have a little fish that is scared to travel  – He’s built himself a mechanical fish out of driftwood to tool around the ocean so he can stay safe. The only way you can find this little guy is by using the specially designed periscope that was designed for … you guessed it “The Institute for the Study of Mechanical Marine Life”.

We started feverishly sketching the ideas as we developed our little story.  And it turns out – the mechanical fish is only a small part of the overall “sign”. We are going to create a standalone sign that will be lit with LED’s have lots of color, fun and can be viewed 360 degrees. Oh and the whole thing is… a fish tank. That’s right – I’m blaming Brian for this one!

Fish Tank-Proof Mechanical Fish Proof

I jumped right on designing the fish – Brian was on welding duty. He’ll start by fabricating the armature that will hold up this beast.

I have the basics of the fish designed in Enroute Pro with some texture – once I piece it all together I’ll do some hand carving.

Fish Doors

It’s off to the MultiCAM 3000 – We’re cutting `1.5″ 30lb Precision Board. I used a 3/8″ Ball End Mill for the rough pass and a 1/4″ Ball for the finish pass. Cutting Fish

Brian is out in the shop welding up a storm!  This sign will be strong with a steel frame to hold all the weight of the fish tank and enclosure.

Welding Frame

And… done.  Ready to start skinning this thang!

Completed Frame

Stay Tuned…

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