Introduction: Awesome Clipboards

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This is how I made some clipboards for a big craft show I went to. The project is very customizable. You can make it as plain or adorned as your heart desires. In the end, all you really need is a board rigid enough to write on, sized for whatever you're going to put it, that is ready to receive hardware.

To build mine I used some ambrosia maple for the main "body" and banded the sides with walnut and purple heart.

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Step 1: Dimension Materials

The first thing I did was flatten one edge of the maple on my jointer and then ripping it on the table saw. This made sure both sides of the maple were flat and parallel.

I also went ahead and rough cut the walnut and purple heart to approximate length on my miter saw station.

Step 2: Cut Banding to Size

I measured the banding off the thickness of the maple and then set the fence on my table saw so I could rip the banding. I intentionally cut them a little thick so they would be proud of the surface of the maple. I will plane them smooth later.

Step 3: Glue Up

For this glue up I used Titebond II, my go to glue for general woodworking projects. I took care to spread the glue evenly and then applied lots of clamping pressure. Cleaning up glue squeeze out now with a damp cloth will save you some headache later.

Step 4: Resurface Both Faces

After the glue up both faces needed to be resurfaced so the banding would be perfectly flush with the maple. I jointed one face flat on my jointer first, then took to the planer and planed the other side until it was flush with the maple.

On woods like purple heart that are prone to tear out, slow down the feed speed on your tools (if you can) and take really light passes to minimize tear out.

Step 5: Cut Into Individual Blanks

Right now everything is just one big chunk. I rough cut the chunk into four individual blanks at the miter saw station, two small clipboard blanks and two large clipboard blanks.

  • Small Blanks: 6" x 9"
  • Large Blanks: 9" x 12"

Then I went to the table saw to cut to final length. First I ripped the blanks down to final size. I wanted the same amount of banding on each side, so I had to cut some banding from each side of the blank. This is easy by taking the total amount of material to be removed, halving it, and cutting that amount from each side.

Example, current width is 9 3/8" but I want 9". 3/8" needs to be removed. To keep it balanced, rip 3/16" off of each side.

Then I used a miter gauge to precisely cut each blank to appropriate length.

Step 6: Resaw Into Clipboard Thickness

I still do not have much luck resewing thick materials on my bandsaw, probably because I haven't invested in a good resaw blade.

So to get good results, I first rip pieces to the full capacity on my table saw, and then finish the cut at my bandsaw.

Step 7: Sand

I thought it was best to fill in the beetle holes to prevent a pen inadvertently poking through paper while writing. So I taped off the back and then filled the holes with CA glue. I batched out 20 of these clipboards at a time so this process was a bit tedious.

Then I ran through the 100 and 150 grit on my random orbit sander. At that point I misted the wood with water to raise the grain before finishing with 220 grit.

While doing this I realized that the blaster on my air compressor worked really well to remove most of the sanding dust from the pieces between grits.

Step 8: Rounding Corners and Hardware Holes

To make the next steps easier and faster I stacked and taped all of the blanks together.

To round the corners I picked a socket with a radius I thought would look pleasing and used that to mark each corner. Then I used my oscillating spindle belt/spindle sander to round the corners, but a regular belt or ROS sander would work just fine.

The holes for the actual clip were easy at the drill press, but a regular hand drill would work just as well.

Step 9: Apply Finish

For the finish on this I used General Finishes Satin Arm-R-Seal. It's an oil/urethane blend, kind of like Danish Oil, but I like the color that it brings out better and the urethane in it is tougher. I brush on a liberal amount, sand it in with 220grit and then wipe off the excess with a clean cloth.

Step 10: Attach Hardware

The clipboard hardware I ordered came with push rivets and were really easy to install. They fit in an 1/8" hole and I just pushed them together from both sides, and the clipboards were done!