Introduction: How to Make a Cool Detective Board

About: A tinkerer at heart, and computer scientist by trade. I'm particularly interested in embedded systems, robotics and computer vision. In my free time I love working on any creative projects from music, to art, …

Isn’t it always so cool when detectives in movies are cracking down on a case and they go to their pin board where they have put all the clues and all the leads, all connected with strings and all they need is that final piece! I’ve always thought so and so I figured, hey why not make one?

This project is fairly simple to make but it is still a really fun project that anyone can do. It's also a great way to spend time with kids, especially if they are detective fans.

Okay are you ready? Let's get started.


Here's a list of equipment that you will need:


  • Foam board
  • Pins
  • Yarn/String
  • Scissors
  • Highlighters, markers and or pens
  • Double sided tape, glue stick or bo-stick


  • Photos of friends or celebrities
  • Photos of places
  • Sticky notes and paper
  • Newspaper/magazine cutouts (optional)
  • Sketches (optional)

Step 1: Prepare Your Evidence: Title Card

The first step is to create the name of the case. We can think of something fun and goofy or dark and chilling depending on the theme you want for the board. I’m settling on “The spaghetti roundabouts mystery”, which was the name of a dish my friend and I made in university. Print or write the name of your case in bold so that it can stand out from all the evidence we’re about to collect.

Step 2: Profile+Description Card

This will be a profile picture with a description of the person and how they are related to the case i.e. are they a victim, a suspect, a potential lead? Etc. Again here you can either print out a picture or if you already have a physical photo you can attach a sticky note to write your description.
For the description, don’t make it very long. You can follow this template that I used, or feel free to create your own.



Alibi/Connection to case:

Note: I did most of the pictures in black and white. I feel it gives it more of a mystery feel, and of course it fits a noir theme. The sepia filter also gives a great effect of them being old photos

Step 3: Just Profile Card

This will be like the profile and description cards without the description. For these cards there won’t be any description for the person in the photo, but we can still use a marker to circle a person’s face, put question marks and other detective-like markings.

Step 4: Landmarks, Locations and Maps

Landmarks are great to give you the feel of where this mystery took place. Find some pictures of your favorite places and print out or cut out a few.

Similar to the landmarks maps can help make the mystery feel it’s happening at a specific place. For this we can go to good old google maps and take some screenshots and print them out. For an added touch you can use a marker to highlight roads, circle locations and add sticky notes with questions or descriptions

Step 5: Optional Cards


We can use sticky notes to ask the BIG questions of our case. Questions like “Where will they strike next?”, “Who are they working for/with?” and “Who really ate the spaghetti?” are good examples, you can of course make some of your own.
Newspaper cutouts can also be a cool addition to your board, especially if the article is even slightly related to your case.

Mystery Card

This will be the missing link to the mystery and where all the strings lead to. It can be a silhouette of a person with a big question mark written over it or simply a sticky note with a BIG question or question mark

Anything else Card

The material above should be good enough but you’re more than welcome to add anything else you feel can be added to the board. Things like “evidence”, and “clues” would be good, as long as it can be pinned to the board.

Step 6: Place Your Evidence and Connect the Strings

Place your evidence

There’s no real order in how to place your evidence on the board so feel free to place them wherever you’d like. The only things I would suggest is:

  • The title should be placed at the center or top center of the board

  • The Mystery Card should also be at the center of the board

  • I placed a couple of profile Cards near Landmark Cards to give the feel that the person is related to that landmark (e.g. works/lives at the landmark)

Use pins to stick your evidence onto the foam board. Pins are great because they make it easier to attach the string to your clues and evidence and they allow you to replace and move your evidence if you wanted to later. If you don’t have pins though, you can also use glue or blu tack, just keep in mind that they might not be as easy to move anymore.

Connect the strings

Connecting the strings is simple enough. Tie a knot around the pins and cut off the excess string, then connect to the remaining string to other pins. They don’t all have to connect to each other and some evidence does not need to have any strings, but make sure to have a good number connected to the Mystery Card. This will help show that it is the central piece to the mystery

Step 7: Time to Put Up Your Board

At this point we are nearly done, we just need to find a place to hang our board. If you need permission to stick anything on the wall, be sure to do so :)
We can use double sided tape or regular tape to stick it up. I used regular transparent tape because I didn’t have double sided tape at the time and thought it would be easier to move if I needed to.

Awesome! We’ve now got our board up! We can add more evidence if we find any, now the only thing left to do is figure out the missing link!
Thanks for reading this instructable, if you enjoyed it please vote for it and if you made one of your own, send a picture, I’d love to see it.

Happy investigating detectives!

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