Monday, December 31, 2012

DIY Chalkboards

Be prepared for a very long post with lots of pictures. But also be prepared for pure DIY awesomeness. Last year for Christmas Dan and I decided to make all of our Christmas gifts. It was lots of fun but very very time consuming. You can read more about our gifts that we did here. This year we decided to make it a bit more simple. The adults would get edible homemade goodies (there will be a post on this soon) and the kids would get handmade chalkboards. Simple right? Well the goodies were easy, the chalkboards, not so much. They weren't overly complicated, just very time consuming with lots of little steps. But we are pleased with the results.

Let's start at the beginning. First, Dan cut pine boards down into the predetermined sizes for each chalkboard. We were making five chalkboards, four small hand held ones and one bigger hang-on-the-wall one. The next step was to engrave each kids name into the back of their board. We only did this to the four smaller ones. Dan printed off each kids' name on a sheet of paper in the chosen font.

Then he taped the paper to the board and using his router he carved out the name.

He repeated this four times for each name and they all looked great when he was done.

Our next step was sanding them down until smooth. Dan also put wood putty in any holes, dents or scratches on each board so that there wouldn't be any areas that would catch the chalk. While the wood putty was drying, we measured and cut the trim for the edges. We used a mitre box and a hack saw to do this.

I cut a total of two cuts. It was too hard for my weak little arms and I couldn't keep the saw straight so I kept cutting down into the box. Oops! Dan did the remaining 38 cuts or so.

We had to test out each piece of trim to make sure it fit well with all the others. It took a long time and we were tired by the end.

Once the trim was all measured and the wood putty dry, we sanded them all down and rounded out the corners in the back so that they would be easier to be held by small hands. Next step, taping them off and applying the chalkboard paint.

We purchased two spray cans of paint from Canadian Tire for approximately $5 and each. This same paint can also be found at Michael's but for more than double the price. So I would shop around. Really though, any chalkboard paint would work. We did a lot of coats. I lost count actually. Especially since after some of them had been painted, we realized they needed to be touched up with some more wood putty, re-sanded and then repainted. Our advice, make sure the boards are as smooth and perfect as possible before applying the chalkboard paint. It turned out fine in the end but we added some unnecessary steps.

Once the boards were ready, we got to painting the trim. We had each set all wrapped up with the names on them. We wanted to make sure everything would fit once we went to put them together.

We chose four colours according to the favourite colour of each kid. We purchased little tester cans at Canadian Tire for $5 a piece.

Then we got to the tedious job of painting small strips of trim.

This is where we finished off that night. All the trim painted and drying.

The next night we nailed the trim onto each board. Another job that you had to be really careful not to mess up. We needed to make sure everything still lined up well and hold things tightly in place while the nails went in.

Once all the trim was attached, we stepped back and beamed at the progress we were making.

Then we flipped them over and got to painting the backs.

Once the backs were dry, we flipped them over again and touched up the sides and front and filled in the nail holes the best we could with paint.

I then painted the backs of the last two chalkboards.

One of the last steps was painting in the names with black paint so that they showed up better. I think I had a hand cramp by the time I was done.

But look how good they look!

We needed to do some last minute touch ups on the fronts again and since Dan's youngest sister Sam was over, she helped out.

We are very pleased with these chalkboards and are extremely proud of ourselves for making them. Dan was the brains behind the operation so I would like to give him full credit for planning them out and doing most of the hard work for them. They are so beautiful and I'm sure the kids will have lots of fun with them.


  1. wow these are great!! So personal and so much fun (well...maybe not for you. haha)

    happy new year Jennie!!

  2. How awesome!! I'm a little jealous!! :P I want one! Haha.

  3. Casey - They were fun to make and we were very excited to give them to the kids. Happy new year to you too!

    Maddie - You could totally make one yourself. :)