• I want to thank all the members that have upgraded your accounts. I truly appreciate your support of the site monetarily. Supporting the site keeps this site up and running as a lot of work daily goes on behind the scenes. Click to Support Signs101 ...

new shop setup


New Member
Hello All,
I am new to this website and new to the sign business. I currently have an awards shop along with a promotional products business in middle Tennessee. Being a small, growing very rapidly town, that has no sign shop I am going to combine all three and open a retail spot around November.
My question is:
If you were starting your sign shop from scratch what tools, not counting printers/plotters etc., would you deem essential to run a successful shop? Those "you can't live without em" kind of things. Which ones don't live up to the hype?

Thanks for the read.

Mrs. Uneedasign

New Member
We have lots of tools all important to the trade. But I think the most important piece is your work tables. Make them as big as will fit your shop. also make a holder at the end of your table raised above the table with a dowel to hold transfer tape rolls. We can't live without this. Also the best cordless drill money can buy.One ather tool we love is the "super edge" ruler, it's got a handle on it so you don't slice fingers.

Fred Weiss

Merchant Member
I think the thing most often overlooked are the tools for cutting, punching, drilling, shaping and measuring substrates.

Must haves in order of importance:
  • A dirty room for saws, drills, routers etc.
  • A good table saw
  • An assortment of hand tools
  • An assortment of measuring devices
  • A shop vac
  • An air compressor
  • A drill press
  • A chop saw
  • A panel saw
  • A metal shear
  • A band or jig saw
  • A power sander
  • A router
Essentially as Fred lists - anything that a woodshop may need is very essential to a sign shop.

As Uneedasign also points out, another essential and often neglected pieces of equipment are the work tables. A couple good tables make the work that much easier. You can never have too many tables.

Assuming that you are a trophy shop, vinyl and banners will probably be where you are headed. With this in mind, a good vertical vinyl rack can be priceless, and good for color display.


New Member
Thanks for the good info. You are right about being a trophy shop. We also sell promotional products to help businesses advertise. To me a sign or banner or anything along those lines is just another way to advertise so its a natural tie-in. Being totally new to the sign industry I'm not sure about the totally custom sign part of it. It sounds very involved and time consuming. Also sounds like a craft it takes many years to become competent at. I love to design and woodwork so I'm sure I will eventually dive in but not sure to what degree.


New Member
Hiya Gary,
A vital tool to a successful sign business is your design skill. A poorly designed and executed sign or advertisement can do more harm than good to any business. So, I would suggest good design software and a few books on layout or design.
Also, the comments above are a good start, but you may more, or may not need everything listed above. It really depends on the products you plan to sell, plus your suppliers and how well they support you.
So, I would suggest that you come up with a list of products you wish to add to your current offerings and work backwards from there, figuring out how to make those products.
Finally, if you haven't been to a sign show yet, get to one. The amount of information you can learn at a show is invaluable.


Craig Sjoquist

New Member
Checkers said alot,layout is # 1.... Fred gave you a wish list ....you know your clients.... buy as needed my thoughts are, nothing like a shop full of unused tools etc. take one step at a time so you know what foot to put forward........THANK YOU & ENJOY LIFE


New Member
Dont forget a Ladder!
Vinyl Rack (or just make one)

Now on to the hand tools...
Grommet Machine and Grommets (if you gonna do banners)
Corner Rounder (for aluminum or magnetics)
Retracable blades (I like the OLFA brand)
Tape Measures
Application fluid (until you get it down right yourself)
Tape (strong masking = creating a hinge And weaker tape for shop use)
Alcohol (wipe banners)
spring clamps (sometimes to stretch out your banner)

Hmmm... I cant seem to think of anything else at this moment.
If anything crosses my mind I will let you know.