This instructable will show how to build a transparent glass whiteboard that will never wear out and never ghost. Glass is a superior surface for writing on with dry erase markers and erases with a tip of the finger. The size I made mine was 28 inches by 54 inches and was NOT made to freestand as it would take up too much room in my sons college apartment. Total cost was a very reasonable $60-65, and took a weekend to build and finish (minus the time going to and from stores!). The glass was from a local IKEA store. It is normally used as a desktop protector and is safety glass weighing about 30 pounds . My son is a Math and Com Sci double major along with being a whiteboard nut and his rooms look a lot like the garage in A Beautiful Mind so a great project for him.
Does it work? Yes. Is it the best whiteboard my son has ever used? No. It's the contrast. A white whiteboard with a black marker is, by far, the easiest to see and use. Unless there is a dark background or a white background, the writing is harder to see on a clear whiteboard. The best is to have a white sheet of material stuck to the other side of the glass but that defeats the whole purpose for a clear whiteboard!
The other question you have to ask yourself is glass the best clear material. I went shopping in Home Depot and bought several types of plastic sheeting. Lexan was the ONLY plastic sheeting worth considering. I found a great place to buy Lexan sheets. Freckleface!:
But in the end, I decided that glass was the best material. A large sheet of Lexan is harder to keep clean, the leading brand of markers (Expo) will ghost after sitting for a week or two, and has a much more shiny surface which makes it even harder to read what is written. But it does not break and would be much easier to build. Next clear board is going to be 3/8 inch 36 by 48 Lexan, just for mobility and safety's sake.
Why a clear whiteboard? In the show "Numb3rs", I was intrigued by the clear whiteboard that Charlie Epps is using.
Could I buy one?
http://www.clearmarkerboard.com/home.html Not at THIS price.
So let's build one!
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Step 1: Building a Windowframe.
So I have a large piece of glass that I want to mount to a support. That is,err, let me think, a WINDOW. So how do I build a cheap and strong frame for the glass? Looking around and I see that my windows use WOOD as a frame. Whew, tough decisions are made.
The IKEA glass sheet is 55 1/8 inches by 29 1/2 inches or 140 by 75 cm. I will use stock 1 by 3 inch pine as the frame and use 2 by 4's that I trimmed to 2 1/2 inches wide to match the frame. If you do not have access to a tablesaw, I would recommend using 1 by 4 inch pine.
Step 2: How to Mount the Glass to the Frame.
There are several ways to mount the glass into the wood.
Professional made windows use a special routing (or shaper) bits to create a tongue and groove assembly but that is expensive to buy and time consuming.
I could just build the frame and surface mount the glass using mirror holders (an L shaped piece of plastic that screws into the wood and holds the mirror in place with a tongue that extends over the glass). I Really do not like this one as the edge of the glass is exposed and the frame would be wobbly as the glass is not part of the structure.
Finally, the method I used is simply to rout a 1/4 inch slot into the wood and put the glass in. I used "Space balls" ( I swear that is their name). They are 1/4 inch rubber balls that go into the slot and keep the glass from moving and protects it from shock. rubber washers cut up and inserted into the wood would work just as well.
Step 3: Building the Frame.
I will give precise measurements for the frame but it would be foolish to use them. My slot was 1/2 inch deep and made with the table saw. I could have also used my router in my router table. I leave it to you to learn how to make a slot in wood if you do not already know.
The frame was 28 7/16 by 2 1/2 inches for the sides and 59 1/8 by 2 1/2 inches for the top and bottom. The TOP extended past the glass and the sides attached to the top and bottom.
I made the slot continuous through all pieces and then glued in some wood into the slot where the glass wasn't and the top met the sides. This was to add strength to the butt joint.
Test fit the wood to the glass to make sure your frame will come together and that the glass does not move. You can make the grooves deeper or add larger pieces of rubber washers to make the fit work. Of course, mine came out perfectly the first time (lucky for me!).
Make sure to sand the wood before putting the frame together. I put a bevel on the glass side to make writing easier. I also stained and finished the wood before assembly
Again, your choice and your lessons in staining or painting are necessary. I used Minwax conditioner and a Early American oil stain with a Minwax clear satin water based acrylic finish.
I used a pocket hole joiner to finish the frame. I guess other ways would be to buy loong screws and screw the frame together or possibly just put a piece of wood over the joint and screw it together.
Step 4: The Frame Support to the Wall.
This could not have been easier. The support beams are just leaned into the wall. I left the 2 by 4's at 8 feet ( I would recommend 7 foot now). I took my cut down 2 by 4's and put a block of 1 by 3 wood 6 inches long that one end was 43 inches from the floor. This is to add support to the bottom of the frame. That put the TOP of the frame at 74" from the floor (approximately).
I cut the bottom of the two supports with a 15 degree angle to approximate the lean as it sat against the wall. I screwed 4 rubber feet on the bottom to keep the supports from sliding and put two more at the top to protect the wall.
With the frame clamped on the supports and sitting on the blocks, I drilled 4 1/4 inch holes 1 3/8 from the sides and 1 3/8 from the top and bottom. 1/4 by 3 1/2 inch bolts, 1/4 inch washers and wing nuts holds the frame to the support.
Step 5: To Make a Freestanding Frame. My Thoughts.
Given a choice, I would have built the frame into a T shaped frame with wheels so It could be moved around and have both surfaces usable. Just no room in the apartment for that though.
I would have built like this. Keep the 7 foot supports but skip the bevel and the rubber feet. Again using cut down 2 by 4's, make two base supports about 3 feet long each. Add wheels to the bottom (2 1/2 inch rubber with the flat plate design). Make a triangular brace for support 2 1/2 foot on a side out of plywood and screw everything together.
Should be stable enough not to tip over! If tippy, make the feet longer. If wobbly, use 45 degree cut 2 by 4's to add as a brace just screwed in. I would make them about 3 feet or so long.
Step 6: Final Thoughts.
This was an easy project and it was nice to work with my son on it. The glass whiteboard is being used and may end up as a winner. All in all though, the IDEA sounded a lot better than the actual thing.
I think that Numb3ers uses the clear whiteboards so that they can film the actor's face rather than the back of his head while he is writing! It also lets there be more variety in the background than a huge white board.
I would love to hear about someone making a Lexan whiteboard so I could hear how well it works.
There are many other ways that I can think of using a clear whiteboard. I would love to hear some of yours.