A Clear Glass Whiteboard





Introduction: A Clear Glass Whiteboard

This instructable will show how to build a transparent glass whiteboard that will never wear out and never ghost. Glass is a superior surface for writing on with dry erase markers and erases with a tip of the finger. The size I made mine was 28 inches by 54 inches and was NOT made to freestand as it would take up too much room in my sons college apartment. Total cost was a very reasonable $60-65, and took a weekend to build and finish (minus the time going to and from stores!). The glass was from a local IKEA store. It is normally used as a desktop protector and is safety glass weighing about 30 pounds . My son is a Math and Com Sci double major along with being a whiteboard nut and his rooms look a lot like the garage in A Beautiful Mind so a great project for him.
Does it work? Yes. Is it the best whiteboard my son has ever used? No. It's the contrast. A white whiteboard with a black marker is, by far, the easiest to see and use. Unless there is a dark background or a white background, the writing is harder to see on a clear whiteboard. The best is to have a white sheet of material stuck to the other side of the glass but that defeats the whole purpose for a clear whiteboard!
The other question you have to ask yourself is glass the best clear material. I went shopping in Home Depot and bought several types of plastic sheeting. Lexan was the ONLY plastic sheeting worth considering. I found a great place to buy Lexan sheets. Freckleface!:
But in the end, I decided that glass was the best material. A large sheet of Lexan is harder to keep clean, the leading brand of markers (Expo) will ghost after sitting for a week or two, and has a much more shiny surface which makes it even harder to read what is written. But it does not break and would be much easier to build. Next clear board is going to be 3/8 inch 36 by 48 Lexan, just for mobility and safety's sake.
Why a clear whiteboard? In the show "Numb3rs", I was intrigued by the clear whiteboard that Charlie Epps is using.
Could I buy one?
http://www.clearmarkerboard.com/home.html Not at THIS price.
So let's build one!

Step 1: Building a Windowframe.

So I have a large piece of glass that I want to mount to a support. That is,err, let me think, a WINDOW. So how do I build a cheap and strong frame for the glass? Looking around and I see that my windows use WOOD as a frame. Whew, tough decisions are made.
The IKEA glass sheet is 55 1/8 inches by 29 1/2 inches or 140 by 75 cm. I will use stock 1 by 3 inch pine as the frame and use 2 by 4's that I trimmed to 2 1/2 inches wide to match the frame. If you do not have access to a tablesaw, I would recommend using 1 by 4 inch pine.

Step 2: How to Mount the Glass to the Frame.

There are several ways to mount the glass into the wood.
Professional made windows use a special routing (or shaper) bits to create a tongue and groove assembly but that is expensive to buy and time consuming.
I could just build the frame and surface mount the glass using mirror holders (an L shaped piece of plastic that screws into the wood and holds the mirror in place with a tongue that extends over the glass). I Really do not like this one as the edge of the glass is exposed and the frame would be wobbly as the glass is not part of the structure.
Finally, the method I used is simply to rout a 1/4 inch slot into the wood and put the glass in. I used "Space balls" ( I swear that is their name). They are 1/4 inch rubber balls that go into the slot and keep the glass from moving and protects it from shock. rubber washers cut up and inserted into the wood would work just as well.

Step 3: Building the Frame.

I will give precise measurements for the frame but it would be foolish to use them. My slot was 1/2 inch deep and made with the table saw. I could have also used my router in my router table. I leave it to you to learn how to make a slot in wood if you do not already know.
The frame was 28 7/16 by 2 1/2 inches for the sides and 59 1/8 by 2 1/2 inches for the top and bottom. The TOP extended past the glass and the sides attached to the top and bottom.
I made the slot continuous through all pieces and then glued in some wood into the slot where the glass wasn't and the top met the sides. This was to add strength to the butt joint.
Test fit the wood to the glass to make sure your frame will come together and that the glass does not move. You can make the grooves deeper or add larger pieces of rubber washers to make the fit work. Of course, mine came out perfectly the first time (lucky for me!).
Make sure to sand the wood before putting the frame together. I put a bevel on the glass side to make writing easier. I also stained and finished the wood before assembly
Again, your choice and your lessons in staining or painting are necessary. I used Minwax conditioner and a Early American oil stain with a Minwax clear satin water based acrylic finish.
I used a pocket hole joiner to finish the frame. I guess other ways would be to buy loong screws and screw the frame together or possibly just put a piece of wood over the joint and screw it together.

Step 4: The Frame Support to the Wall.

This could not have been easier. The support beams are just leaned into the wall. I left the 2 by 4's at 8 feet ( I would recommend 7 foot now). I took my cut down 2 by 4's and put a block of 1 by 3 wood 6 inches long that one end was 43 inches from the floor. This is to add support to the bottom of the frame. That put the TOP of the frame at 74" from the floor (approximately).
I cut the bottom of the two supports with a 15 degree angle to approximate the lean as it sat against the wall. I screwed 4 rubber feet on the bottom to keep the supports from sliding and put two more at the top to protect the wall.
With the frame clamped on the supports and sitting on the blocks, I drilled 4 1/4 inch holes 1 3/8 from the sides and 1 3/8 from the top and bottom. 1/4 by 3 1/2 inch bolts, 1/4 inch washers and wing nuts holds the frame to the support.

Step 5: To Make a Freestanding Frame. My Thoughts.

Given a choice, I would have built the frame into a T shaped frame with wheels so It could be moved around and have both surfaces usable. Just no room in the apartment for that though.
I would have built like this. Keep the 7 foot supports but skip the bevel and the rubber feet. Again using cut down 2 by 4's, make two base supports about 3 feet long each. Add wheels to the bottom (2 1/2 inch rubber with the flat plate design). Make a triangular brace for support 2 1/2 foot on a side out of plywood and screw everything together.
Should be stable enough not to tip over! If tippy, make the feet longer. If wobbly, use 45 degree cut 2 by 4's to add as a brace just screwed in. I would make them about 3 feet or so long.

Step 6: Final Thoughts.

This was an easy project and it was nice to work with my son on it. The glass whiteboard is being used and may end up as a winner. All in all though, the IDEA sounded a lot better than the actual thing.
I think that Numb3ers uses the clear whiteboards so that they can film the actor's face rather than the back of his head while he is writing! It also lets there be more variety in the background than a huge white board.
I would love to hear about someone making a Lexan whiteboard so I could hear how well it works.
There are many other ways that I can think of using a clear whiteboard. I would love to hear some of yours.



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    Update on using chalk markers on Lexan. The markers wipe off completely even after sitting for a week. If anything, they work better on Lexan than glass.

    One of the more interesting tests my son and I are doing is using the chalk markers on our flat LCD monitors. So far, the results are extremely good as the marker comes off easily and without any sign of ghosting. I have tried on several monitors, all anti glare, and it works for us. I am not recommending this as perhaps gloss screens act differently or some monitors may not have a glass surface. Do a dot test in the extreme corner as a test. Let me know if you have any issues.

    Tried it on my gorilla glass phone tho and it failed miserably as the marker would not "stick", just kind of makes blobs of the chalk, heh.

    The Liquid chalk markers (of any color) work just as well on Lexan as they do on glass! Bold, bright, and easily read across the room. See below for the link to the chalk markers.

    Note that the chalk markers like to be store with the cap down to keep
    the wick moist. If they do "dry out, just press down on the marker tip
    to re-prime them.

    Good question about the chalk markers on Lexan. I tried the black and yellow on Lexan and they both work extremely well, MUCH better than dry erase markers. Strong dark lines with the black, and a deep color that pop out with the yellow. I wiped them off immediately and they cleaned up completely. I will let it sit for a week to see if there is any stubborn staining but I doubt it. I will reply next week if I DO have issues, if there is NO reply, assume that they are safe for Lexan!

    I love the white marker on the transparent board. Does the white grease pencil come off easily from the Lexan board? I'm having a hard time locating White Quartet markers to use on Lexan.

    so all in all, which markers are the best for the Lexan clear boards??


    I've done something similar to this using an old (big) picture frame. My only gripe is that many of the colors look very faint (black and blue are the only ones that seem to stick). Do you experience this as well?

    When I first saw an episode of that show, the thing that caught my eyes was the glass whiteboard that they had. It was really interesting to see them use that thing for many good purposes. I wonder though, how much would one of those cost now days?http://www.vistavisuals.com.au/index.php/products/whiteboards/glass-whiteboards.html

    Just a thought. Maybe some of that frosted window tint would make it more visible while still being cool and see through