Making a Custom Chalkboard with Cedar Frame from Scratch
Another request from the wife was for our son’s 1st Birthday and it came out much better than I originally anticipated. I have made several frames before, but this one has to be my favorite, and very easy to make with the proper tools. In this blog entry, I’ll show you step by step ways to build your own chalkboard, or as I like to call it, CHAWKboard. Hope you enjoy!
- Cedar 7/8″ x 3&1/2″ x 8′ pieces (2)
- 1/8 Sheet plywood (48″ x 35″)
- Chalkboard Paint
- Wood Glue
- Finishing Nails, I used Nail Gun
- 3/4″ Screws
- Chalk Markers
- Wet Rag & Dry Rag
- Clear Coat Spray Paint
- Mitre Saw
- Table Saw
- 90 Degree Clamps (4)
- Nail Gun with Finishing Nails
- Cordless Screw gun
- Paint Brush
- Measuring Tape
- Orbital Sander
First Step: Create Design Plan
I decided to make my frame around an existing 48″x 35″ x 1/8″ plywood I had left over from another project. I wanted to inlay the plywood on the back of the frame so the back was flush with the back of the frame. Below is a quick little sketch that I drew to follow during build time. Notice how my frame is now only 3″ wide and that’s because my 90 degree clamps can’t hold anything wider than 3″.
Once I ripped my two Cedar boards to the width of 3″ with my table saw, I had to make the four sides to the frame. I planned for the plywood to be flush with the frame on the back so I added 3″ to each of the four sections because I calculated half the width for the plywood to sit (shown by the dotted line in the middle of frame in the above sketch). The 3″ will help me inset my plywood while still giving enough room for support on the back of the frame.
Step two: Cut the Four sides of Frame and assemble
Once the 45 degree angled sides are cut (two 51″ pieces and two 38″ pieces), I now need to remove a 1/8″ by 1&1/2″ section from the inner frame pieces so my plywood would sit flush with the back side of the frame. I used the table saw and dropped the blade to the 1/8″ thickness of the plywood. Next, I made a cut 1&1/2″ from where the center of the frame would be. Then, I raised the saw blade to 1&1/2″ and turned the four sides so that the narrow 7/8″ sides were on the bottom to cut off the inset section of each side. I dry fitted the frame with the plywood and then assembled the frame by glue and clamps.
****NOTE**** For extra strength, i also used my finishing nail gun to add some nails into each side by the mitre joint.
Step three: Sand, Stain, and Paint
I waited 24 hours for the glue to dry and set before removing the clamps and sanding the joints. I then used a rag to clean off any dust, and began to stain the frame:
For the stain, used Minwax English Chestnut. I prefer to use gloves and a rag to apply the stain, but you can use a paint brush if you want.
While the frame was set aside to dry, I then painted the plywood with the chalkboard paint. For this, I used a brush and applied about 3 coats within 30 minutes:
I really like Rust-oleum. It goes on dark purple and dries black. Make sure you use a protective drop cloth to avoid getting paint drops off the plywood; I used a clear sheet on my workbench.
Step four: Assemble Plywood to frame
Once the paint is dry and frame is dried with a coat of clear coat spray paint, turn the frame upside down and insert the chalkboard side down. Take the 3/4″ screws and fasten the plywood to the frame.
Finished product should look like this:
Step Five: Prime Chalkboard and use chalk markers to create your board
Luckily, I have an artistic wife and neighbor, and they were able to put together the below artwork for my son’s first birthday. Before using the markers, prime the chalkboard by use the sides of regular chalk and covering the whole board before erasing it with the chalkboard eraser. This helps to adhere the chalk marker to the board best. If you make a mistake, take a damp rag to erase the mistake, and then use a dry rag to remove the moisture and start again! Also, a T-square helps for straight lines.
Have fun, and hopefully you can make a great detail to your celebration! Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.