Chris Metcalf

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." - Robert Heinlein



How-To - Dirt Cheap Wall-Sized Whiteboards

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posted: June 16th 2007

__Update3:__ Somewhere between Wordpress, TextMate, and the Markdown plugin, my post got corrupted and ended up in mixed HTML/Markdown. It should be fixed now.

Updated Update: FYI… As the weather gets hotter and more humid here in Seattle, my board has started to noticeably warp and it doesn’t lean nicely on my wall anymore. This obviously won’t be a problem if you mount the board directly to the wall, but if you want a freestanding board like me, you may want to look into using a stiffer backing board such as real plywood or OSB, or build a stiffer frame. I’m going to look at building a frame out of 1"x1" on the back of the board to stiffen it up.

Update: Welcome, Makers! Hopefully this time I can keep my site from crashing too much.

Disclaimer: I can’t claim to have come up with this myself. I was actually inspired by a post in Cool Tools, an excellent blog full of excellent ideas like this. But I think its a cool project anyway, so I thought I’d write it up.

I’ll admit it, I’m a geek, and a very visually-oriented geek at that. I like to draw big pictures and lists and doodle. At work, I’m fortunate enough to be constantly surrounded by whiteboards. At home, I’m not so lucky.

Unfortunately, big whiteboards are expensive. A quick Google Products search finds plenty of 3'x4' whiteboards selling for hundreds of dollars. Even a smaller whiteboard at Office Max will run you at least $30.

Fortunately, the same material that they make most commercial whiteboards out of is available at most big-box lumber stores like Home Depot for less than $15. “Showerboard”, which is basically cheap plywood with a waterproof white plastic coating on one side. Its the same stuff that they make cheap showers out of – four walls of showerboard plus a cheap plastic base makes a decent stall. It also makes a great whiteboard.

White Board

More details after the jump.

Step 1: Procure Your Supplies

Everything you need for this (except whiteboard markers, etc) can be found at your local big-box. Scout out the paneling section of the store, usually near the back, where you’ll find the tacky wood paneling that was in every finished basement when you were growing up. Look for the showerboard, also called “tile board” or other similar names, in big 4'x8' sheets. I think my sheet cost $11.

Showerboard and Luan Plywood

While you’re at it, also pick up a matching 4'x8' sheet of luan plywood. It’ll be the cheapest plywood you can find, usually around $8-$15 per sheet. They were out of the cheapest stuff, so I paid about $14.

You may want to cut your whiteboard down to a smaller size. I cut mine down by about 18" because I planned to orient it vertically, and I didn’t need an 8' tall whiteboard. You may want to cut it into smaller boards, funny shapes, whatever. Just make sure the luan and the showerboard are the same size and shape.

Liquid Nails

Also pick up a tube of Liquid Nails. I picked “Liquid Nails for Paneling”. Supposedly it’s designed just for paneling, so I figured it would be perfect for this project. If you don’t already have a caulk gun, you’ll want one of those too.

I also picked up some stick on felt pads so the board wouldn’t scratch the floor. You might want to pick up wall anchors or hanging stuff, depending on how you want to mount your board.

Step 2: Glue

This step is pretty easy. Pierce the Liquid Nails and load it into your caulk gun. Apply the liquid nails liberally to the back of the showerboard. The Liquid Nails only has a 10 minute work time, so work quick.

Applying glue

Avoid the edges so it doesn’t ooze out too much. Liquid Nails is easy to clean up before it hardens, but then it gets really difficult.

Step 3: Laminate

Match up the edges of the luan with the showerboard, and lay it on top. Be careful and try to get it right the first time, because you don’t have long to work with the Liquid Nails before it hardens.

Then weigh it down with random stuff to compress the layers. I used random stuff I found around my apartment.

Laminate

Yes, that’s my wine collection and my dining room furniture.

Let it cure for at least a few hours, preferably overnight.

Step 4: Enjoy!

After leaving it out overnight, you’re ready to go. Mount your board as you see fit, and start drawing.

White Board

I just leaned mine up against the wall. If you’re fancy, you might want to wall mount it or hang it somehow.

My grand total was $28. Numerous improvements could be made, including a wood frame to stiffen it, or a nicer way of hanging it on the wall. But I’ve been using it like this for about a month and I’ve been very happy with it so far.


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