Sunday, May 8, 2011

Not just another chalkboard

Fiberboard Slate with Chalk Tray

Happy Mother's Day!  Thank you to the hubby for taking over my interminable Settlers of Catan card game with the 8-year-old, and giving me some time to work through the project/blog backlog.

A while ago I saw a charming chalkboard in the NY Times.  I liked everything about it except the price tag.  And it was the perfect replacement our whiteboard (go here for instructions for that), which had been great except for 2 problems:  my 2-year-old and my 4-year-old.  They would invariably leave the caps off the markers (dry erase markers are so unforgiving), and when they missed the board, it meant pulling out the magic eraser and taking yet another layer off the paint.

So, having some 1/4" fiberboard scrap (a lot easier to cut with my old jigsaw than zinc), I set out to make my own slate.

Here's how:

Materials & Tools:
  • 1/4" fiberboard
  • sandpaper (I used 100-grit)
  • blackboard paint
  • 3" paint roller
  • jigsaw
  • drill
Optional chalk tray (with hooks for hanging your rag for erasing, or, in our case, keys):
  • desired length of trim - inside corner and screen
  • cup hooks
  • 1/2" wood screws
  • wood glue
  • clamps
In the name of recycling, sketch on a piece of paper the toddler has scribbled on. 

Start with sketching out a desired shape.  I made a simple scrolled shape, but you can do anything you can manage with a jigsaw - silhouettes of family members for individual slates would be fun.  Enlarge your shape and make a stencil (I drew mine on a folded sheet of newsprint for symmetry) and trace it onto your fiberboard.

Told you it was scrap - and the 4-year-old pretended the curves were
waves and drew and sailed boats on it while I worked.

Cut it out with your jigsaw (and don't forget to drill a hole at the top to hang it by), sand the edges for a smoother, rounded finish, and paint with blackboard paint, following instructions on the can.

Now for the tray.

Here are the trims I used; check out the scrap bin at your hardware store for something similar.  If you can't find scraps, you can generally get it at a pretty reasonable price by the foot.

Inner corner trim

Beaded screen trim
Glue them together and clamp.  When that has dried, shape the ends as desired (I liked a bit of a bevel, which I did with a coping saw), sand, and stain & seal (not necessary, but I had the polyurethane on hand and figured it'd make it easier to keep clean).  Or you can paint it whatever color you want.  Screw your cup hooks into the inner corner trim (don't go right into the seam as this may split your 2 pieces along the glue line).  When you're done, it should look something like this:

Glue onto your painted board, and clamp.

Condition your board by rubbing it all over with the side of a piece of chalk and then wipe it off (instructions will be on your paint can) .  Once the glue has dried, drill in a couple of wood screws on the reverse side of the board to more firmly anchor it in place.

Then hang it up and let your kids go to town on it.


1 comment:

  1. Wow, that's just plain amazing. How do you make it sound so easy?