If you have a big empty wall, then some people might use it to put up a selection of paintings and photographs. And while we wouldn't mind doing that too - if we had another big empty wall, first priority on the list was to create something that we could write on. Something which would help us think, brainstorm, write lists, hold lessons etc...
Most people these days have white boards they buy at Staples or OfficeMax - or they use blackboard paint and put it straight on the wall. We used to have white boards on the wall, but the color of the board and the smell of the markers wears a bit over time so we wanted to create something a little bit more like a school board. Because let's face it: a white board doesn't have an aura of history over it, there is no character embedded in that white shiny surface, it's mainly practical! So to avoid the feeling of a conference room and create something that felt more like an old library or school room we figured, you can't go wrong with a nice blackboard, one in a frame.
We were planning on putting this up in the dining area where the walls are light blue. Black chalk paint, light blue walls .... and a gold frame would be nice, wouldn't it!
We bought a piece of maple plywood about 3/8 inch thick and molding for the border and the chaulk tray. Since there was extra plywood we decided to make another board that was a little smaller. The first board was 60 inches by 40 inches. The other board is about 48 inches by 35 inches.
There are not too many steps to this project so it does not take too long. We just mitred the molding 45 degrees and fit it on the edges of the board, just like a frame - then clamped and glued. We figured it was a lot easier to just glue the frame on top of the board instead of making a separate frame and a separete chalk surface and then put it together. This went really quickly and you just have to be careful when you make your cuts so that you'll get a tight fit.
Also, once we had glued the molding onto the board the edges where the molding met the ends of the plywood board didn't look too good. However, with some additional thin screen molding pieces that was easily adjusted, we just made appropriate cuts and glued that molding all around the edges of the frame where it meets the plywood.
We also figured you need someplace to keep chalk and eraser. The easiest solution was to just create a chalk tray at the bottom of the board, within the frame. We utilized another piece of molding for the tray, and then glued it into position after we had glued the frame on the board.
We wanted a gold frame for the first board (which we achieved easily with gold spray paint!) and a dark wooden stain for the other one (utilizing the same red mahogany stain as we have used for countless other projects including our coffee table and dining table top.)
We primed the board before using the blackboard paint and sanded with 220 grit paper. Then just stir carefully - the blackboard paint settles quite a bit so make sure you stir a lot before using it. The paint goes on really well. We waited overnight and then added another coat.
This project was really easy. It's one of those fun and relatively quick projects to make which produces a rather fabulous result. You will also save quite a bit of money making your own board, especially if you like us wanted a rather large one, since large blackboards are pretty expensive to buy. Some of them in this size can be around $400 if it is made with real wood.
It was more difficult to put it on the wall than to create it really since we wanted to hide any wires and also wanted a really sturdy hold to the wall so it wouldn't move as we were writing on it. However there are lots of options when it comes to securing it to the wall, just keep in mind it's pretty heavy so you need go into studs to ensure it will stay up.
Now when it's up, we are so happy with it. The black surface and gold frame look great, and it sparks more conversations and ideas when you have somewhere out in the open to write them down on.