My Super Easy DIY Chalkboards That Were Not So Super Easy

I have this (potentially bad) habit of feeling the need to buy something when I think it’s cute, regardless of whether or not I actually have a plan for it or know exactly how I can use it. (I’m also a pro at returning things.) So when I saw these little wooden frames for a buck or two at Michaels a few months back, I bought a whole bunch of them. They had a rustic type vibe and I figured there had to be something I could do with them for the wedding.

On the way home, it came to me: chalkboards!

diy+lov

Image taken from Lover.ly | Photo by Suzanna March Photography

I know everyone and their mother seems to be incorporating chalkboards into their wedding in some form or another these days, and I’m totally another sucker for ‘em. I would love to place one at each of our food stations, one at the bar, one for the restrooms, etc and so forth. However, seeing as the frames I bought were just frames – no backing, no stand, just plain unfinished wood – I figured I could get some plywood from Home Depot to use as the backing, get it cut to size, spray with chalkboard paint, and glue it to the frames. Easy peasy, right?

Well obviously not, if you read the title of this post.

The first step was painting the frames – easy enough.

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Wine always helps.

Then we had to recruit a friend to help us cut the plywood, since we don’t have the appropriate tools. In theory, this was pretty easy, except every time we got together with said friend, we found a million other things to do (like eat…and drink) instead of cut plywood. So finally, about a month later, we got everything cut down to size.

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The boys hard at work!

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The backings ended up being a bit larger than the frame openings, mostly so that I had ample room to glue them to the frames. However…some ended up being a bit too large.

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I originally thought I could just sand down the edges until they were the perfect fit. Not so. This plywood is THICK. 10 minutes of vigorous sanding had my hand cramping and made barely a dent on the size.

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See how much it sticks out? Not good. The plan is to take them back to our friend and have him shave off some of the side.. I’m just nervous because it has to be pretty exact (and our schedules don’t exactly mesh). I didn’t really think about how small of a margin we have between too big and too small, and still being able to glue the backing to the frame.

The other issue is figuring out how to get them to stand. If you’ve noticed, none of the frames are flat on the bottom. They all have little filigree type designs sticking out, thus making my life increasingly difficult. I haven’t even begun to think about this yet. One thing at a time.

I mean.. they’ll (hopefully) look good when they are all finished.

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But I honestly thought this project would take a few days, maybe a week. Not three months (and then some, since they still aren’t finished). Miss Dalmatian, I am not.

Have you ever misjudged the work that needed to go into a project? Or…maybe I’m just a DIY failure. Most likely that.

BLOGGER

Mrs. Fox

Location:
Washington DC/Havre de Grace, MD
Wedding Date:
June 2012

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  1. Member
    dalmatian 592 posts, Busy bee @ 2:59 pm

    Haha, I have many DIY projects that have far exceeded my estimated timeframe. With the chalkboards I made, I used some really thick poster-type boards from Michaels and glued a few of them together to make it a sturdy enough thickness. Also, the frames I used for those particular ones had backs so they had extra support (a.k.a. I cheated and did not use plywood)! :)

  2. Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 3:54 pm

    I had this happen many times, sometimes I just don’t get how tools work and it led to several setbacks. it worked out in the end and so will your adorable chalkboard frames!

  3. Member
    archer 551 posts, Busy bee @ 3:56 pm

    dude- just keep drinking. it helps my diy-fail! sorry, i have no other advice for you!

  4. Member
    coyote 1564 posts, Bumble bee @ 4:04 pm

    Ugh you have a lot more patience than me. I usually get frustrated with a project like that and just give up. ;) I hope you’re able to fix everything though because those frames are super cute!

  5. Guest Icon Guest
    Gina, Guest @ 4:59 pm

    If your friend has a belt or disk sander, perhaps that could be the answer to your problems! You can use the sander to get a smooth edge, without cutting chunks away with scary saws! They move pretty quick, so you’ll want to use a fairly light hand, but they can make nice smoothed (curved, even) edges more gradually than cutting directly.
    I prefer disk sanders, as they have less potential for throwing your work across the room, but belt sanders are pretty easy to master with a little practice (maybe using a scrap of the same material for that!)

    Good luck! They look really cute so far, even with the backs not matching up perfectly :)

  6. Member
    Mrs. Dragon 814 posts, Busy bee @ 5:10 pm

    My DIY problem solution is to whine to Mr. D until he sorts it out. Dude is genius when it comes to fixing mistakes!
    Your frames are super cute, though, so I hope everything gets sorted out with minimal tears. :)

  7. Member
    brendaretamoza 8 posts, Newbee @ 5:31 pm

    I made a chalkboard like this once and the way i did it was very easy. I took a part a framed picture from goodwill and painted the frame turquoise. I sprayed the glass with spray chalk ( just like chalk paint but much easier and held on to the glass) then I put it back together. If i ever get tired of the chalkboard side i can always flip the glass and use it as a black dry erase board. Though i will be limited to those awesome neon dry erase markers! Very very easy and cheap!

  8. Member
    Miss_Manda 301 posts, Helper bee @ 5:44 pm

    Adorable! I bet they’ll end up totally worth it. As for getting them to stand up: Instead of adding a stand to the back of each frame, check the frame section of your hobby store for little photo easels. They might work better for your fancy, not-flat-bottomed frames!

  9. Member
    Future Army Wife 2213 posts, Buzzing bee @ 6:18 pm

    I love those frames, too! I’ve been contemplating a way to buy them for the wedding. I love the colors of yours

  10. Member
    peachplum09 732 posts, Busy bee @ 6:37 pm

    What about using those acrylic hinged plate stands in the picture frame section of Michaels like these http://www.xylemdesign.com/Easels/DisplayEasels/TableTopEasels/ClassicHingedTableTopEasel.aspz?

  11. Member
    futuremrsbauer 44 posts, Newbee @ 8:27 pm

    to make them stand, I would drill two small holes at the bottom and insert short dowels. If you drill at an angle it should work and prop them up, rather than have them completely vertical. cheap frames are commonly done this way

  12. Member
    cancanny 61 posts, Worker bee @ 6:06 am

    Don’t know if anyone has said this, but Michael’s and other craft stores sell clear plastic display stands (like these http://www.acrylicdisplay-holders.com/img/main/photo/pd825695/clear_acrylic_plate_display_stand.jpg ) that might work? I would take your frames to the store and test out. I would also check amazon if you need more sizes?

  13. Member
    KristenK 189 posts, Blushing bee @ 8:06 am

    Super cute frames!! Good score for 2 bucsk!

  14. Guest Icon Guest
    MissSal, Guest @ 12:55 pm

    where is everyone finding the chalkboards to attatch to the frames?! I can’t find it anywhere!

  15. Member
    msfox 1635 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:41 am

    @Mrs. Pony: Glad to hear it all worked out.. gives me hope!
    @Miss Archer: Bahaha, don’t worry. We’re always well stocked with vino. ;)
    @brendaretamoza: I didn’t even think of being able to spray the glass. Genius.
    @Miss_Manda, @peachplum09, @cancanny: I’ve been thinking about that! Yet to find ones that I like, but will keep searching!
    @futuremrsbauer: I’ve thought about the dowels as well.. possibly attaching two to the back of the chalkboard part to create a tripod like thing?
    @MissSal: You can use any old photo frame, and spray chalkboard paint (can find it at Michael’s) on the glass or on a properly sized piece of plywood, like I”m doing!

  16. Guest Icon Guest
    MissSal, Guest @ 5:10 pm

    THANK YOU!!!! I went down and grabbed some tonight after reading this! :) :) Really appreciate it!

  17. Member
    robin_sparkles 1409 posts, Bumble bee @ 6:17 pm

    These are so cute! I know it’s probably been a while since you got them, but what section of Michaels were they in? They look wooden, were they in the unfinished wood section? Or were they just a dollar section item that’s probably long gone? Super cute!

  18. Member
    msfox 1635 posts, Bumble bee @ 8:01 pm

    @jessie.hensley: They were kind of in an aisle to themselves.. not with the “normal” unfinished wood, but with a whole bunch of other similarly country chic looking unfinished wood things – I think it’s kind of like a featured item right now? I know that’s not *super* specific.. but I still saw some there when I was at Michael’s last week!

  19. Guest Icon Guest
    rachel, Guest @ 8:43 am

    Ok so i bought the frames and have my chalkboard but i’m not sure how to glue them together! what did you use? I tried hot glue, but that didn’t work. i guess wood glue?? i’m not sure! What did you use? I looooooove ur posts, btw! thanks for all of the amazing inspiration!

  20. Member
    msfox 1635 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:32 am

    @rachel: Aw thanks!! For the backings, I’m 99% sure I used wood glue (it was almost a year ago now, lol!). But I do specifically remember gluing them, and stacking them between piles of wedding magazines to encourage them to stick/lay flat and left them there for 24 hours before I touched them again. For the supports/stands I later added (you can see them in a few of my recaps), I used hot glue. Hope that helps!

  21. Member
    razzelbride 90 posts, Worker bee @ 2:38 pm

    Thanks Mrs. Fox! I have mine curing w/ wood glue under piles of books right now! :-)
    (razzelbride = rachel)

  22. Member
    mimuracrystal 5 posts, Newbee @ 11:45 pm

    Cool!

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