Introduction: Homemade Whiteboard

Picture of Homemade Whiteboard

I thought that I would finally bit the bullet and make a whiteboard. I made a bunch of them in college for my fraternity, so that we could do our engineering homework. But all of those were frameless and 4' x 8'.

In my current house, I don't have that kind of free wall space, so I need it a bit smaller.

Not being one to waste materials. Out of one 4' x 8' sheet of melamine coated hardboard I can get three 32" x 48" whiteboards. So lets get to work.

Step 1: Gather Tools and Materials

Picture of Gather Tools and Materials

What you'll need is the following materials:

qty description price
3___1"x4"x8' standard pine board_____~$1.54 each
1___4'x8' sheet of tileboard (melamine finished hardboard)____~$9.93
24___1.25" long course pocket screws
1___bottle of wood glue
picture hanging hardware

rubber mallet
speed square
Measuring tape
hand saw
power miter saw
table saw
Sandpaper or an Random Orbit Sander
Pocket Screw jig
12" Quick Grip Clamp
2-5' pipe clamps

Step 2: Start the Cutting

Picture of Start the Cutting

First cut up the tileboard to size, you can either use a tablesaw, handsaw, or a circular saw. I ended up using a circular saw, since cutting it on the tablesaw would be unruly for me. Plus it was raining, so I needed to do it quick. Basically cut every 32 inches on the long side of the panel, so that you'll end up with three panels that are 32"x48".

Next is time to cut up the frame material. The first cut is to rough length, so crosscut the 8' board into a 3' piece and a 5' piece. The second cut is to rip the two pieces in half, so that you have all four pieces of the frame. Since the 1"x4" is really 3/4"x3 1/2", when you rip it in half it won't be 1 3/4" but more like 1 5/8, or maybe even smaller. It really depends on the kerf of the rip blade you are using, more then likely it will be 1/8". So make sure to adjust your measurements.

TIP: Cut all the pieces before resetting the fence.

Step 3: Grooves

Picture of Grooves

This is where the table saw does the heavy lifting, in cutting the groove in the frame pieces. In setting up the table saw for this cut, it helps to have a 1/4" drill bit for setting the blade height and fence. You want the height of the blade to be just a little bit over 1/4", just to compensate for any waviness in cutting the tileboard to size. While for the fence, try to set the fence as close to a 1/4" from the right side of the blade to the fence. My thinking behind setting the fence a 1/4" is that I only want a small reveal on the front side, while trying to keep it as professional looking as possible.

The kerf on my rip blade is a 1/8" and the tileboard is 1/8" so it should be a nice and snug fit.

After cutting all the groves in the frame members. Sand them all down, and try to knock down all the corners slightly. Just to prevent splinters.

Step 4: Mark to Length

Picture of Mark to Length

This is where you're not going to like me, in that I'm not going to give you lengths for the frame pieces. Because you can do the frame two different ways, you can have the short pieces inside the long ones(which is what I did), or the long pieces inside the short pieces. Also if there is one thing that I have learned doing trim work, that is don't measure, but mark the piece that needs to be trimmed instead. Because the numbers will always trick you.

So here is how I did it.
1) Take a pieces of sand paper and sand all the edges of the tileboard, because the fit is very tight. And the frame piece will bind if you don't sand the tileboard. The tileboard should have the writing surface up.
2)Slide the two short pieces on each end, fat side of the grove down.
3)Take one of the long pieces and trim the end square.
4)Slide the long piece onto the tileboard and square it up in one corner.
5)At the other end of the long piece, mark for length on the outside of the frame.
6)repeat for the other long piece.
7)Now take the two scrap pieces and slide one into the normal frame position. And slide the other scrap piece to butt against the overhanging short frame.
8) Now mark the short frame on the inside. Cut to length and repeat on the other short piece.

Step 5: Pocket Screws

Picture of Pocket Screws

Now with the short frame pieces only.
On the fat side of the groove, drill out two pocket screw slots on each end of the piece.

Step 6: Glue and Screw

Picture of Glue and Screw

This is when you are going to need the pipe clamps to hold this mess together. Flip the tileboard over and slide on the long side frame pieces, fat side up. Take one of the short frame and apply glue on each end, and slide it on, fat side up. Then square up the corner, and put a pipe clamp on that end. Repeat on the other end. You may need to use a rubber mallet to make sure everything is even. When you are happy, drive home the pocket screws. Leave the whole thing in the clamps for at least an hour to drive.

Step 7: Hanging Hardware

Picture of Hanging Hardware

I already had some hardware from a previous project. The brackets have spikes built in, but I added three 1/2" brads into each bracket just in case. For the wire I used 25lb steel picture wire. Now we can hang up this beauty.

Step 8: Enjoy

Picture of Enjoy

Now get to writing!


Manamana625 (author)2015-10-04

Cool but what if we don't have the white stuff you write on and don't want to go and buy some?

AyushiS2 (author)Manamana6252015-11-16

I guess you can use a tileboard, as they've mentioned in the requirements.

melcron (author)2013-02-27

Thank you very much! I was about to buy a 48"x36" whiteboard for $40 and was disappointed with the dimensions and the price until I stumbled upon your instructable. One trip to Home Depot and I walked away with a 97"x48" "whiteboard" for $14. Who needs a frame! :-)

Penguinja (author)2010-02-17

im too lazy too get bthat stuff from the hardware store and i dont haveeee moneyyyyyy, partly cuz im only 15 and get money from my parents. SO i just got the plastic cover (the one you put into your binders) and got a white piece of paper and slipped it inside. WAAA LAAA!

playwithfire12 (author)2008-01-19

nice idea, but I built one that works even better. find a suitable size sheet of glass and sandwich a sheet of white paper between the glass and a sheet of plywood or such at the back to give the glass a bit of strength and to hold the paper flush to the glass. just make sure u don't glue the paper to the glass it doesn't look too good.

Alternatively, for a distinctly modern look, simply mount glass (or plexiglass) flush to a white wall. I suspect a thicker plexiglass with no frame would look the best, but to avoid the gap between the writing and the white background being disturbing it would probably be best to stick with a thinner plexi, say 1/8". Just bung it up on a white wall and you're good to go!

Bill Hood (author)playwithfire122008-05-23

Most glass shops have old shop doors that they normally have to pay to dump. If you ask real nice, they will give you one. They have nice aluminum frames and a key holder built in. Of course you will have to scrape off the credit card stickers. My shop used to be located next to a glass company and they would give them to people all the time. They make interesting coffee tables with plumbing pipe legs. They make great room dividers that open up the room. They make great replacements for interior home doors, where privacy is not needed. They make great art over the sofa when you put twinkle holiday lights behind them in a random pattern. One mounted in a garage door can bring in a lot of light to a garage workshop during bad weather.

Etitan (author)2008-01-18

Nice job on the instructable. When I wanted dry erase capabilities at my new place I opted for static cling sheets. One idea to pass on, when I was considering the melamine board idea, I also was going to add a metal backing to let me use magnets on it as well. Now that is posh.

bryren (author)Etitan2008-01-18

Glue felt to the back of your magnet. I have thot about doing this - metal - but not sure what gauge it will take.

headphoned (author)bryren2008-08-29

...which gives me an idea -- put strong magnets inside your whiteboard eraser. It'd be a handy way to mount it, and if nothing else could be a fun gag -- "Let me just erase this here.... whoop, hmm... the eraser seems to stick to the board"

ausable (author)bryren2008-01-18

You could probably just use 22ga. sheet steel or galvanized HVAC ducting sheet metal. I just tried the HVAC sheet metal, and none of the magnets that I have are strong enough to pull through the 1/8" hardboard.

ausable (author)Etitan2008-01-18

Thanks. I actually thought of a steel backing as well, while I was making it. My only concern was finding strong enough magnets that wouldn't scratch the writing surface. I guess that could be a mod for later down the road.

sjs229 (author)2009-05-03

Don't you think it would be cheaper to buy one?

Sunny124613 (author)2008-09-01

very good job! I like these and might have to make some

kaboogie (author)2008-02-16

I use dry and wet erase right on my fridge at home, stainless, but regular fridges work too. My gf makes a sharpie calendar on hers, fills in the info with dry erase. The sharpie comes off with stainless steel cleaner of soft scrub....but I put contact paper over my stainless fridge :-) Wokrs great!

tubbychick3n (author)kaboogie2008-08-27

you can also remove sharpie from things like a fridge or whiteboard just by scribbling over it in a dry erase marker and then erasing it with a cloth or dry eraser.

Bill Hood (author)kaboogie2008-05-23

I rushed to the fridge with markers in hand. It works! It works! Thank you! Thank you! What a wonderful idea that I can't believe I had not thought of before!

BruceHoultThomson (author)2008-05-28

Great to see homemade whiteboards, and especially the fridge idea - marvellous. NOW, can anyone tell me how to create ink for refilling a marker pen. I already refill my computer printer cartridges with ink from 60ml or larger bottles of bought ink. That works in a marker, but is a bit greasy. I'll try diluting it with alcohol maybe in the weekend. But has anyone succeeded in creating a really good dry-erase ink from simple, very cheap off-the-shelf commodities? Thanks, Bruce Thomson

juanangel (author)2008-04-15

I use Formica. But before the first use, I coated it with car wax to avoid stains and easy to erase. Only maintenance is waxing.

Bill Hood (author)juanangel2008-05-23

Great idea! Today, the guy that works on my Jeep, told me that to remove the "haze" from my plastic headlight lenses of my ancient Jeep Grand Cherokee all I had to do was spray them Deet and wipe it with an old T-shirt. I wish he had told me that before I had replaced the headlight lenses.

Bill Hood (author)2008-01-17

Dry erase ink can be "re-wet" with dry erase ink. Even when you think it won't come off without buying an expensive cleaner you should try to simply mark over the old ink with the same color of pen. It will re-wet and can be wiped aways quite easily.

RaNDoMLeiGH (author)Bill Hood2008-01-30

Cheap vodka will work too, or isopropyl alcohol...

Bill Hood (author)RaNDoMLeiGH2008-05-23

What a waste of vodka - even cheap vodka! Plus the dry erase pen you already have in hand!

Jrabbit05 (author)Bill Hood2008-05-23

that works great! thanks

DirtyWater99 (author)2008-03-19

If this is the same stuff that they sometime use for shower walls, it does pose some problems. Many of the teachers at my school, due to severe budget cuts, have begun using this as an alternative to the expensive dry erase boards. They work for a while, but then tend to retain most of the stuff written on them. They get really grungy. The material you make yours out of may not pose the same problem. Either way, great instructable; very helpful.

Deception (author)2008-02-15

a very good material as well as tileboard is glass, it acts almost the same way but is easier to get when youve never heard of tile board

RaNDoMLeiGH (author)2008-01-30

This is a well-done instructable! I like the way you used the 1/4" drill bit as the guide to adjust the saw. Why haven't I thought of that??

ausable (author)RaNDoMLeiGH2008-02-01

Well the funny part about that is I can't believe that I didn't figure that out as well. Until one day while I was watching the Woodsmith shop, and they used a 1/4" drill bit to set-up a tablesaw to make a mortise and tenon joint.

treelovinhippie (author)2008-01-29

I just went down to my local hardware store and found some wood that fit closest to that of a whiteboard... masonite. Bought it, bought some markers... came back and tried out the markers on the board and the ink disappears when you write on the board... as though it is seeping into the board. Any idea how to fix this?

ausable (author)treelovinhippie2008-01-29

Did you buy just masonite or coated masonite?

bilbox (author)2008-01-17


You can buy rolls of whiteboard contact paper and make almost any surface into a whiteboard. 18" by 6 feet is $6.99 from ABCstuff.

This 'ABCstuff' could be stuck on a layer of sheet metal with a plywood backing in a frame. Then whiteboard magnets would stick. I would glue the thin gauge sheetmetal down with contact cement and fill any seams with Bondo or wax.

train10 (author)2008-01-20

I used be a trainer. We had lots of whiteboards and found that cheesecloth worked better than the erasers. We used to get big rolls of the stuff and cut off about a foot, fold it, and erase. When it got really ugly, just toss it and cut off a new piece. Worked well with dry or wet erase pens.

DaveNJ (author)2008-01-18

Great job. I just bought a white board from Staples and now I am going to return it and make this. It will be bigger, better and much cheaper in cost. Thanks!

DaveNJ (author)DaveNJ2008-01-19

I just made a 32" x 48" inch board today. It took about 2 hours and came out great. I ran the rails through the saw twice to open up the channel to a hair over 1/8". It made the assembly easier. It is still a good fit. I figure about $10 per board. I returned my little 24" x 36" to Staples for a $27 refund. Thanks for this simple idea. I also like the idea below about the wet markers. I will try that idea out too. Thanks tdbtdb!

ausable (author)DaveNJ2008-01-19

Cool, I'm glad that it worked out for you. And that you were able to save a couple of bucks to boot.

tdbtdb (author)DaveNJ2008-01-18

Everyone loves dry erase markers, but wet erase are even better and don't stink. The colors are better, price comparable. The brighter more opaque colors mean writing can be visible on top of a wider range of colors (dark panelling okay!). Not sure the environmental impact is lower, but all the solvent in dry erase makes me suspect wetter is better. Expo brightsticks are my brand, but I've seen & used others that are good too. Grocery stores used to use them to write specials on the windows, etc. Erasing actually is easier with wet than dry erase, though I guess if you tried using a dry eraser it might get full of pigment and not work well. I usually use a tissue or old paper towel. I can usually wipe it off without wetting the towel, if not, a little spit will do. I like to use the fridge, the bathroom mirror, and the interior window of my car to write on. I also recycle sheets of packing plastic to coer up stuff I otherwise wouldn't want to write on. The monitors we buy come with a nice (but floppy) sheet of clear plastic protecting the screen, that's what I've got stuck on the office file cabinets and my home fridge for scribbling. Dry erase was better than chalk, wet erase is better yet.

p1pe (author)2008-01-19

Hey, this is real nice. You did a great job on the instructable. I was wondering why you used the pipe clamps in addition to the screws :-)

ausable (author)p1pe2008-01-19

Your answer is all the way at the bottom of the comments section.

redskinsjbs (author)2008-01-08

Great idea and efficiency btw. Just a sort of side note, I use my desk as a dry erase board because it is made out of glass. It comes in handy if I have a presentation that need to be put together. Also, I took an old window from a construction site (they were remodeling and they gave me this giant floor-ceiling window for dirt cheap), and I just have it set up against my wall and I use that as another planning board. ( I am a graphic design/architecture student, so planning and drawing space is kind of a big deal). Yeah, great instructable. I think I might panel my walls with that stuff.

Gnome (author)redskinsjbs2008-01-14

Never mind, turns out I wasn't using glass but a "XL10 UV Protected Sheet" that's "250 times stronger than glass". The thing is, I don't care if it breaks or not, I just wanna write stuff on it!!! (P.S. Tried writing on a mirror and it looks awesome!)

davisbarrett (author)Gnome2008-01-18

Gnome, Every few weeks, without warning, I write some note or affirmation for my wife all around her bathroom mirror... Once in a while I'll sneak a note somewhere else she wasn't expecting (wrote a phone number she asked me for a dozen times on the top of her windshield). Makes all kinds of points with that significant other in your life (gender is immaterial, my brother's partner loves it too and he's never appeared to be the romantic type before). So, just my two cents... Cheers, Davis

srilyk (author)Gnome2008-01-18

My guess is it's the UV coating that's problematic for your erasure...

Gnome (author)redskinsjbs2008-01-14

I've tried a Dry-Erase marker on glass and it won't come off unless I use alcohol. Do you use a different type of marker, have another method for cleaning it, or is it just my window that doesn't work the same way yours does?

redskinsjbs (author)Gnome2008-01-14

There isn't anything special about the window or the the markers. Or at least I dont think that there is. I use EXPO markers and the window is double-paned exterior window glass. My desk i think has a scratch-resistant laminate on it, so that might be what helps with the ease of erasing.

waterppk (author)2008-01-18

When I was doing my chemistry problems online I would always use my CRT as a whiteboard. You can write directly on the screen because it's glass (without coatings in my case, but make sure you check). DON'T TRY AN LCD! :)

srilyk (author)2008-01-18

a fairly inexpensive source for glass is binswanger glass - they do large sheets of plexi as well. I know because we used to buy from them all the time in the frame shop I worked - especially when we needed HUGE sheets of glass :P

mdmoose29 (author)2008-01-08

Oh, how I miss Menards.

ausable (author)mdmoose292008-01-08

My personally ranking of the big box home improvement goes Menards, Lowes just below, and way...way down the list is Home Depot.

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