These mini clipboards are great, there are literally* 1000s of uses for them. Some examples include giving them to your toddler so they can pretend to be the boss, using them to hold recipes, putting them on your fridge to hold grocery lists and they can even hold pictures (this picture is me as a baby).
I originally came up with this clipboard design as a fun way to use up scrap wood I had laying around the workshop. By following a few simple steps, you can make some too!
*not literally, but I have found many uses for these fun sized clipboards!
Here are the supplies, tools and materials I used in making this. The links are either to the exact tool/supply I used, or something very close.
- Scrap Wood (any wood would do, but I used scraps of hardwood, such as cherry, walnut and oak) You can also go to a store and purchase new wood for this project.
- Table Saw
- Rivets (I used 1/8th rivets with 1/4 grip, but others could be used)
- Finish (I use watco teak oil, but any finish will do)
Optional if you add magnets:
Note: The links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
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Step 1: Planning the Project
As this is a scrap wood project, feel free to grab any wood you like and cut it up anyway you want. In the end you want to make something that fits your project.
For example, the clipboards shown in this example were made to fit a standard 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper cut into quarters. This made the final size approximately 5 1/8" wide x 6 1/2" long. (this allows for an even spacing around the paper and an added 5/8 at the top for the clip)
I later refined the design to fit a standard 5x7 picture. These clipboards were 5 1/4" x 7 3/4".
You can make them any size you want, just measure the thing you want to hang on the clipboard and add 1/4" to the width and 3/4" to the height.
I also experimented with different thicknesses. I tried 1/4", 1/2" and 3/4" thick boards. The 1/4" was a bit to thin, 1/2" was perfect. That being I know that 3/4" boards are the most common at big box stores, so I also tried to make one for that size. It also worked out nice, but is a bit thick looking. However, the added benefit of the 3/4" thick pieces is that you can drill a hole into the top to add a pen. These are the best for grocery clipboards that will be on a fridge as you will always have a place to put the pen!
For ease of reference, the remainder of this instructable is going to use the measurements: 5 1/4" wide x 7 3/4" tall x 1/2" thick
Step 2: Making the Wood the Correct Thickness
There are multiple ways to make the wood the correct thickness of 1/2", just make sure that the wood you have chosen is long enough (longer than 7 3/4")
If you have a thickness planer, this is the easiest. Just keep lowering the blades and making passes on the planer until you reach your goal.
If you don't have a thickness planer you can resaw the wood using either a table saw (as pictured) or a bandsaw. Either way, there will be marks left on the piece that you will need to sand off. That can either be done now, or in a later step.
You can also buy wood that is 1/2" from a store, which is really easy if you have a store that provides this service.
Step 3: Cutting the Wood to the Correct Width
Using a table saw, you will need to cut the wood to the correct width.
If you would like a single piece of wood, just set your fence to 5 1/4" and cut the wood.
If you would like to add a pattern to the wood, cut multiple pieces, just make sure that they all add up to 5 1/4"
In the example shown, I have cut some small thin bits of oak and cherry to make a stripped pattern.
Step 4: The Glue Up
If you have chosen to create a pattern in your wood now is the time to glue it together.
First you will want to position your clamps on the bench. I always check to make sure there is enough room and everything will go smoothly by doing a dry run without glue.
Spread glue on all of the pieces. (I generally add way to much glue, but it is better to have too much than not enough.)
Put the pieces in order and clamp them up. Then wait for the glue to dry.
If you want to be proactive, you can wipe away the glue with a wet rag. Otherwise you will need to remove it once it is dried, during the next step.
Step 5: Removing Excess Glue and Rough Sanding
Once the glue is dried and you have removed your work piece from the clamps you will need to remove the leftover glue.There are many different ways you can do this, In this example I show a card scraper and a random orbital sander.
First using the card scraper, remove the majority of the excess glue. Then with a 60 grit sanding disc, use the random orbital sander to ensure the rest of the glue is removed.
Tip: If you are not sure if the glue has been removed, spray the work piece with water. Anywhere that has glue will be a different tone on the wood.
Step 6: Cut the Piece to Final Height
Using a table saw with a miter sled set to 90 degrees you will need to cut the bottom and top of the project.
First cut one end square.
After that is done, measure and mark a line at 7 3/4" and then cut to the line.
Step 7: Finish Sanding
The next step is time consuming, but it makes a big difference on how the final project will look. Sanding from 80 grit to 240 grit.
I used a random orbital sander, you can just use sandpaper, but it might take longer.
First start with 80 grit, then move to 120, then 180.
Then using a flexible sanding pad with the 180 grit paper (or just sandpaper) lightly rub the edges to ease them over.
The next step is to raise the grain. You simply spray water onto the wood and let it dry naturally. You will notice that this made the wood feel a bit rough to the touch.
Lastly sand using 240 grit paper.
Step 8: Drilling for the Clipboard Clip and Optional Magnets
Install a 3/8" forstner drill bit on your drill press.
Set the depth stop so that the bit can only go approximately halfway through the board. This will leave a 1/4" of material after drilling. It is really important to not go through the board in this step.
On the back of the board, mark two holes that are 3/8" from the top and centered 2 1/4" apart (verify measurements with your clipboard clip)
First drill using the 3/8" forstner bit.
Then install a 1/8" drill bit and drill the remainder of the hole.
If you would like to install magnets, now is the time to drill recesses for them.
Install a 3/4" (or other appropriately sized drill bit that matches your magnet) forstner bit in your drill press. Again ensure that the depth stop is set so that you only go halfway through the board.
Mark 4 locations for the magnets (I suggest 1 1/2" from the top/bottom and 1" from the sides) and drill the holes.
Step 9: Add Embellishments
Now is the time to add any embellishments to the clipboard. In this example I show some wood burning/pyrography of a thumbs up sign. You could also add your name or a sports team logo that you like.
Step 10: Adding Finish
The most rewarding step is adding finish. As you can see from the picture, finish can dramatically change the look of your project. I choose to use Watco Teak Oil, but any finish can be used. Just make sure to read the directions on the can.
For the oil finish I used, it is very simple. Rub the oil on the wood, then wait for approximately 15 minutes, then wipe off any excess. Repeat at least one more time, or more if you desire.
Step 11: Attaching the Clipboard Clip
If the clip does not lay flat on the board you can add a zip-tie to temporarily hold it slightly open.
Then place the rivets through the clip and into the holes.
Using a rivet gun, attach the clip to the board. It is important at this stage to keep downward pressure on the rivet when securing it to the board, otherwise it may pop out.
Step 12: Attaching the Optional Magnets
Using 5 minute epoxy, squirt equal parts onto a mixing area. (I used a scrap piece of paper)
Then mix the epoxy together. Ensure it is well mixed.
Add a dab to each magnet and place them in the holes drilled earlier.
Tip: If you end up getting ceramic magnets instead of rare earth magnets, I suggest adding clear nail polish on the magnet. This will help prevent it from scratching where-ever you place it.
Step 13: Enjoy
And now for the best part, enjoying your project! Add some pictures to your clipboards, or simply add some a pad of paper and a pen. I'd love to hear in the comments below how you would want to use one of these and as always I would love to see picture if you make one!
I am always happy to answer any questions.
This is an entry in the
Home Decor Contest
1 Person Made This Project!
ericsnis made it!