Introduction: Foam-backed Pin Travel Map

About: I'm a marine scientist that also loves woodworking and DIY

We received a beautiful map from my brother as a gift and wanted to turn it into a map that we could put pins into to show where we've traveled. For this instructable I will describe the dimensions used for this specific map and also use more general rems so that you can adapt it for your map.

Step 1: Measure

Measure the portion of the map that you want to be visible through the frame. This will be the inside dimension of the frame.

Our map had a margin and we didn't want to have any of that white margin showing on our final product. Ultimately we cut the white margin off.

Step 2: Gather Materials

This is the general list of materials. You will need all of this but the amount of it you need will depend on the size map you have.

Material list:

Map poster

2"x2" lumber

5.5mm underlayment


Spray adhesive

Wood glue

1/4" inch diameter dowel

wood screws

frame wire

Tool list:



Corner clamp

Step 3: Mark and Cut the Rails of the Frame

Choose the faces of the 2x2 boards that you want to face forward. You want faces with wood grain that looks similar. Keep in mind that the boards may not be perfect cross-sectional squares, so ensure that if you have two pieces that are more rectangular than square, the rectangles are both oriented in the same direction. You want to end up with two lengths of board with short side equal to the short interior of your map and two lengths of board with the short side equal to the long interior of your map.

Mark a 45 degree line near the end of a 2x2 and cut along that line. After making the first 45 degree angle cut, measure the distance from the sharp point to the length of the visible part of the map plus 2 times the width of the board. This will be the long outside edge of the rail.Longrails

I used a power sliding miter saw to make the 45 degree angle cuts. You can also use a table saw or a had held miter saw. Precision is key here because we want exactly 45 degree angle cuts. However, if it is off by a few degrees we can fill in gaps later, but having clean angles makes things a lot easier.

Step 4: Route the Rails

The goal here is to have a lip on the inside of the frame that holds the map and foam from falling out the front of the frame and a ledge on the toward the back on which a backboard will rest to keep the foam and map from falling out the back of the frame. I used a table router to perform this. This requires two cuts to form the profile.

First, from the inside of the frame (short length of rails) I used a straight router bit set to cut 1.25 inches deep and .5 inches in from the fence. I made several passes to avoid chip out since I built mine with cheap pine. Do this for all 4 boards.

Second, from the inside of the frame (short length of rails) I used the same straight router bit set to cut .25 inches deep and 1 inch in from the fence. Again, I made several passes to avoid chip out. Do this for all four boards. Make sure the boards are oriented in the same direction as they were for the first cuts.

Step 5: Connect the Rails

To provide some additional support, I connected the rails to form the frame using dowels. I used a 1/4 inch diameter dowel.

First, cut the dowel into four .5 inch long pieces

Next, drill 1/4 or just smaller diameter holes perpendicular to the faces of the rail ends. Use a template so the holes are in the same place on all faces.

Glue the dowels and the rail ends.

Slide dowels into holes and press rail ends together. You may need to use a mallet to force the edges together.

Clamp with corner clamps to allow the glue to set.

Step 6: Cut Backing

Now that the frame is formed, place it on the piece of underlayment with one corner and two edges of the underlayment settling into a corner of the frame. Trace the inside edge of the backboard part of the frame onto the underlayment

I used a straightedge and box cutter to cut the underlayment. It required several passes but prevents chipout. Be very careful not to cut yourself.

Step 7: Attach Foam to Backing

Cut the foam to match the dimensions of the fram e where the foam will sit. I used 2x2 project panels of foam and since the frame was bigger than the pieces of foam, I used several pieces cut to fit.

Lay the frame face down, put the foam into the frame and spray the foam with adhesive.

Spray the backboard with adhesive and after 30 seconds lay the sticky side of the backboard onto the sticky side of the foam. Flip the whole thing over and apply pressure the the foam to ensure if it is flat and sticks to the backboard.

Step 8: Sand and Paint

Remove the foam and backboard.

Sand the frame and then paint or stain however you want it to appear. I used up to 240 grit sandpaper and spray painted it white so it looks like a single solid piece.

Step 9: Add the Map and Hanging Hardware

Place the map onto the foam and place the frame on top. Adjust the map so that everything lines up.

Flip the frame over so that the backboard is facing up. Screw the backboard into the frame so that it doesn't fall out. I used one screw for each rail.

Add a screw on the left and right side of the back about 2/3 of the way up from the bottom. Wrap wire around the screws and secure. Alternatively, you could use any other available hanging hardware.

Step 10: Hang and Enjoy!

Line the map up on the wall in your room, put some hardware into the wall, hang it up, and start putting pins in to show off everywhere that you've been!

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