Workbench Chalkboard





Introduction: Workbench Chalkboard

About: Why buy when you can DIY? Educated a Mechanical Engineer and trained as a classical cellist I consider myself a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, dabbling in projects from machine design to cooking, ice hockey to...

Maybe it's just me but with several projects in the works I tend to end up with a stack of loose leaf papers, each only partially filled with sketches,  circuit diagrams, equations, etc., and I end up loosing and duplicating work.
My solution? A chalkboard surface applied directly to my workbench. This allows me to keep all my notes, etc. in one place while retaining the original desk real estate.

Step 1: Materials/Tools


* Chalkboard Paint - I used Krylon black chalkboard spray and it works really well.
* Chalk - White, colored, both, whatever floats your boat, just not clay based.
* Eraser - Felt ones work the best.
* Newspaper - For blocking over-spray.


* Masking Tape - For masking of course.
* Sand Paper - For prepping the surface, finer grits such as 200 probably work best. I used 100 and it was alright but I wouldn't go much courser as it could give you an uneven surface.

Step 2: Prep the Surface for Paint

For a normal, painted wood surface start by sanding the area to be painted. You don't need remove the paint just any surface imperfections and grime. This is especially important for smooth surfaces to help the paint stick properly.
After sanding, wipe the surface clean of any dust.
Next, mask off the intended area using the newspaper to keep over-spray from getting on the rest of your workbench.

Caution: Be careful when deciding where to place your chalkboard. Electronics tend have a weakness for high amounts of dust which a chalkboard potentially could generate. If you want to reduce dust, erase the board using a damp cloth instead of the standard eraser.
Thanks to member jteppen for reminding me of this.

Step 3: Paint

You will need at least 2 coats of paint to get a nice even surface.
When painting try to work in only the one direction (horizontal or vertical) and then come back in the other direction. Avoid painting in 'spots' or only one area at a time as much as possible. You are not only worried about the appearance of your paint job but the surface as well so if you apply the paint unevenly it will have a negative effect on how easily you can write on the surface.
Standard painting rules apply: Let the first coat dry before applying the second, don't paint in high humidity, ventilate, don't mess with the surface for at least 24 hours after the final coat is applied (or longer depending on conditions).

Step 4: Prep the Surface for Use

Once dry it is recommended that you lightly rub the edge of a piece of chalk over the entire surface and then erase before use.

Step 5: Write Away!

Now all your notes, diagrams, part lists, etc. can be kept in one place that doesn't take up any workspace. If the surface gets scratched up or stops erasing (try a damp cloth first) you can simply apply a fresh coat of paint.

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    18 Discussions

    This is a really awesome idea! One coder I heard of made a desk entirely out of whiteboard material, so he could just draw designs and scribble ideas all over it (yes, even underneath...)

    I have this in my studio as well. it's so convenient! except I painted the whole work surface with the chalkboard paint (the desk is actually just a big wooden plank with sawhorses).
    also, re: dust and so on: you can get in a couple of places pens that have chalk-ink / liquid chalk (the kind they use at starbucks and things to write neatly) sort of avoids getting dust all over the place and your hands don't get dirty!

    2 replies

    yes they do, with a sponge and water. also practical if you're a left-handed person like me who keeps rubbing with her hand over the chalk while writing ;)

    I've done the exact opposite!
    My whole table is in white melamine,
    and I just write on it with anything!

    when it's pencil, I use a eraser,
    when it's water ink, water
    and anything else goes away with acetone!

    Excellent idea. This would go well with my multicolor Sharpie key ring that hangs from a retractable keychain over my workbench, maybe I should add retractable chalk lol. What caught my eye was the Hello World app.


    CHALK "Hello World"


    1 reply

    Hmmmm, actually that retractable chalk idea could be really handy. I'll have to look into that.

    Horizontal surfaces tend to get covered with stuff.... I'd use a wall or back of a door.

    1 reply

    Each to their own, but I wanted a board that I could use without leaving my desk but didn't take away any space. For me the whole point is that I could write on it and still put stuff on it.

    Just don't forget that computers (and most of electrical appliances with the exception of a vacuum cleaner :-) ) and dust aren't very good friends. And chalk gives you enormous amounts of dust.

    2 replies

    There are many ways to stop dust from getting into a computer, or more regular cleaning. I have a computer in my garage that get the air hose every couple weeks. We have computers throughout our car dealership... we just get creative with dust control.

    That said; yes dust is our enemy - so fight it.

    Good point, I'll add that warning. For my desk the computer sits up on a shelf well away from the board.

    You can erase the board with a damp cloth instead of a felt eraser to cut down on dust as well.

    I have white boards in the shop, at my desk, in our 5th wheel... And I carry a note book... I've had too many project notes go flying, never to be found again...

    I might have to try this out though - my kids would love it too.

    I also found that "ceiling paint" (actually a 50/50 mix with regular paint, adds a nice 'tooth' to the paint for chalk drawing. :-)

    i did this to my entire wall in my room, great for when i get an idea as i normally loose bits fo paper

    1 reply

    Exactly, also there never seems to be any paper around when you need it most.
    I also like being able to edit circuit diagrams and designs much easier than on paper.

    Thanks, being able to put them most anywhere with this paint is quite convenient.