Introduction: Cork Board Project Phase 2

Picture of Cork Board Project Phase 2

I made this at the TechShop ( in Menlo Park.

This project continues the "Cork Board Project" described in a previous Instructable.

The whole project is to build several cork boards as Christmas or birthday presents. Each is a plywood board with a hardwood surround. It has two rows of corks glued around the edges, lying flat, and a square of half corks (cut using the jig described in the previous Instructable) set vertically in the middle. The wood surround is 3/4" by 1 1/2" and may be varnished.

The vertical (half-)corks show only their ends, so they can be of uninteresting origin. The horizontal corks show their winery and should be interesting and varied.

In this phase 2, we check out the procedure of building one board, to eliminate any "wrinkles". See the finished product below.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Plywood sheet 1/4" thick and 15" square; new stock.
Plywood sheet 1/2" thick and 20" square; appearance unimportant, could be scrap.
Plywood laths (4) 1/4" thick by 1 1/2" wide by 15" long; straight, appearance unimportant.
Oak board 3/4" by 1 1/2" by 6' long; new stock.
4 wood boards 1 1/2" square cross-section by at least 19" long; straight, appearance unimportant.
60 corks of various origins.
161 half-corks.
Wood glue.
4 bolts (3/8") by 2 1/2" long.
1" (thin) nails.
Polyurethane (optional).

Table saw.
Miter saw.
Drill press and set of bits.
Light hammer.
Try square.
Cork-cutter jig (previous Instructable.)
ShopBot (optional).

Step 2: Preparation (step 1) - Make the Central Board

Measure several corks to find the average diameter. Design the board to hold the desired number of corks. In this design there is a central rectangle (10 3/4" by 10 3/8") of vertical half-corks and a surround of two rows of corks laid horizontally.

Cut a 14 3/4" square of good 1/4" plywood, using the table saw. (Check the adjustment of the table saw first.)

Step 3: Preparation (step 2) - Make the Gluing Frame

Make a rectangular frame from plywood, to hold the (vertical) corks in place during the gluing. (The exact dimensions depend on the size and number and position of the corks.) In this case, the pieces were cut to frame the central rectangle of 10 3/4" by 10 3/8". Note that only the inner dimension of the rectangles are important. Make sure the corners are all good right angles.

This is not part of the final board, so scrap material can be used. Here the 1 1/2" wide laths were used. These are glued in a rectangle as shown and 1" square stand-offs of plywood attached at the four corners. The stand-offs prevent the frame from getting glued to the main board.

The frame is shown in the next section.

Step 4: Preparation (step 3) - Check the Gluing Frame

Picture of Preparation (step 3) - Check the Gluing Frame

Use the jig described in the Instructable on the first Cork Board Project to cut in half enough corks for 161 halves. That is 14 rows of alternating 12 and 11 corks. The rows are offset so that they give a pattern of hexagons.

Make a "test run" using the half-corks but without glue, to check that the size of the frame matches the corks. Make adjustment if necessary, before proceeding. This frame will be used for the rest of the project. If you are using corks of varying sizes, other frames may be needed later.

Step 5: Preparation (step 4) - Make the Holding Frame

Picture of Preparation (step 4) - Make the Holding Frame

Build a frame to hold the finished cork board(s) while the glue sets, as follows.

Cut a 20" square of sturdy 1/2" plywood. (This can be scrap material as it is not part of the final boards.) On this build a square frame of inner dimension 17" using the 1 1/2" pieces (which can also be scrap.) These pieces should have several 1/2" holes to allow for bolts which will hold the finished cork board in place and apply slight pressure.

Glue and screw the wooden pieces to the plywood base to form an exact square.

If the square is not exact, you can use the ShopBot to true it up. (But take care not to hit any of the screws in the process.)

Complete the assembly with four bolts as shown.

Step 6: Preparation (step 5) - Make the Sides

Picture of Preparation (step 5) - Make the Sides

Prepare a 6' long piece of oak (or other hardwood) for the sides, as follows.

Coat with polyurethane if desired.

Use the table saw to cut a groove 1/4" wide by 1/4" deep along the length of one wide edge. The width of the groove should match the thickness of the plywood board. Some experimenting may be needed using scrap material, to get it exactly right. The depth of the groove may be slightly more than 1/4", but not less.

The groove is set 1/4" away from the narrow edge.

Mark up the piece to match exactly the edges of the plywood square. (Remember all dimensions depend on the original design.) For this case the longest side is 15 3/4" (i.e. 1" longer than the size of the board.)

Use the miter saw to cut the piece into four, as shown, with exact 45 degree angles.

Drill very thin holes, one at each end through the angled part. These are to take the very thin nails used to help keep the ends properly aligned while the glue sets in the final assembly. (They are too small to be visible in the image below.)

Step 7: Procedure (step 1) - Glue the Corks

Picture of Procedure (step 1) - Glue the Corks

Glue the half-corks to the board, holding them in position in the center of the board with the frame made earlier. Make sure the frame is aligned properly or there will be problems later with the outer rows of corks. It is simplest to tape it in place.

Make sure the cut ends of the corks are in contact with the glue.

Apply even pressure to them while the glue sets. This may be done with bubble-wrap and a board with heavy books on top, or anything else which works.

The final result looks as shown.

Step 8: Procedure (step 2) - Attach the Sides

Picture of Procedure (step 2) - Attach the Sides

After the glue for the corks has set and the frame been removed, attach the oak sides as follows.

Fit the four sides around the cork-laden board (without glue) to check the fit. It should have no gaps at the corners. Fix any problems now, which may include making some new sides if they are too short or the angles are wrong.

When the fit is satisfactory, glue each side in turn. This involves squirting a correct amout of glue evenly into the grooves - enough but not so much as to dribble out on the work. The corners should have a thin layer also.

Clamp up firmly but not so tightly as to cause the corners to slip out of alignment. When the fit is satisfactory, gently hammer the thin nails into the prepared holes in the corners, to keep the fit right.

Step 9: Procedure (step 3) - Add the Horizontal Corks

Picture of Procedure (step 3) - Add the Horizontal Corks

Fill the space at the edges with two rows of corks horizontally, glued in place. Let the glue set.

The picture shows the completed board held in the frame. That provides for letting the glue dry, and protection when moving.

Step 10: Completion

The cork board prototype is complete, apart from possible decoration. (That would be the subject of another Instructable.)

Some lessons have been learned in the course of making a few boards, and some labor-saving devices built. More Instructables are on the way.

I made them at the TechShop ( in Menlo Park.


audreyobscura (author)2013-01-10

These come out really nicely - at first I couldn't figure out why they were all different colors...then I thought about it for a second... Thanks for the share!

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