I changed my controls to a configuration more comfortable for me. My new key map is as follows:
Use Item/Place Block = NUMPAD0
Sneak = RSHIFT
With this combination I am unable to place signs on specific items (e.g. place a sign on a chest). When I hold down the "sneak" key and press the "use item" key, the chest opens instead of placing the sign on the chest. If I want to place a sign on a chest, I have to change my "Use Item" key to PAGE DOWN, then change it back to NUMPAD0 when I'm done.