DIY Hanging Chalkboards

As a way to cut down on the amount of money spent at Christmastime (and to limit the amount of useless crap we each accumulated), my family decided to start making gifts a few years ago. It was touch and go for a while, but thanks to creative online showcases like Pinterest, the quality of gifts has dramatically increased lately. This year, we made these chalkboards for some of the ladies on both sides of our families.

About a month ago, the wife saw this page in a magazine:

She pointed to the chalkboard and suggested that we make something similar for our homemade Christmas gifts. I’m not sure if she really liked this idea or just wanted to outsource most of the gift-making to me this year, but they came out great. The best part is that they were pretty cheap to make. The project only requires some basic carpentry skills and a little patience.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 1/4″ x 2′ x 4′ sheets of oak plywood ($32)
  • 1 quart of tinted Zinsser primer ($13)
  • 1 quart of chalkboard paint ($13.50)
  • 150′ of rustic-looking rope (from Ace Hardware, $7)
  • 1 ball of twine ($2.50)
  • 12 pieces of chalk ($2)

Each sheet of plywood gets cut into six rectangles that measure 12 x 18 inches each. I used a table saw, but a hand-held circular saw would work just as well. I pre-primed the wood to speed the process along.

Next, I used my miter saw to cut some angles for decoration, and then ran a router around the top edge. You can omit this step, but it adds a nice touch. I routed a 45-degree angle on half of them and cut a simple quarter-round on the rest. Here’s a closer look.

Next, you drill two holes in each chalkboard. Make sure you drill through the board and into a piece of scrap wood or the back will splinter. I used a 5/8″ forstner bit because I wanted the holes to be big (and clean), but you could use a smaller-diameter twist bit if that’s all you have.

Finally, you prime the boards and then paint them with the chalkboard paint. I remembered to brand the back of each chalkboard.

Knot some rope through the holes and tie a piece of chalk to some twine and you’re done.

I was worried that the chalk would be hard to erase from the valleys in the grain of the wood, but it comes right off.

Cost breakdown: $60/12 = $5 per chalkboard.

You actually have enough paint to more than double the scope of the project. Even if you bought two of everything besides the paint, the per-unit price would drop to around $4. That means you would have two dozen go-to gifts in your closet that are good for any occasion. Plus, you don’t need to buy a card because you can write a greeting right on the gift. How easy is that?

DIY Hanging Chalkboards
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