Mount a Poster on Plywood





Introduction: Mount a Poster on Plywood

About: Analog maker dabbling in digital manufacture

Here's a quick, easy and inexpensive way of mounting a poster in a permanent and clean-looking way. I bought this poster as a contrast to my 3D periodic table, and wanted to do Murray Robertson's great artwork justice as opposed to just pinning it to the wall. There are other descriptions of how to make plywood-backed posters, but the poster I got was thick and glossy and I was concerned that the mod podge approach might not be best suited to the my poster. So I used spray-on contact adhesive instead, and it worked well enough that I thought I'd share the process.

Step 1: Materials and Preparation

- poster. Make sure the poster is nice and flat. I left mine between two sheets of plywood overnight.
- spray adhesive. I used Super 77, but I assume any contact cement spray adhesive would work.
- plywood. Thicker and higher quality the better, for planarity and edge appearance, respectively. Cut to the size of the poster or slightly larger.
- a large sheet of paper. I stuck two pieces of brown butcher paper together with masking tape. The paper needs to be bigger than the poster.
- finish for the edges. I used Varathane water-soluble crystal clear finish.

Step 2: Glue

Spray the back of the poster and the good face of the plywood with the adhesive. Leave to dry for 10 minutes. It should be barely tacky. This is important: you want the poster and the plywood to stick to each other, but not to the paper.

Now: gently lay the paper on the plywood so it covers all but an inch or so of the plywood. Line the poster up and stick it down on the edge, ensuring there are no bumps or wrinkles. You have precious little leeway for misalignment with contact adhesive, but the paper helps enormously in getting it lined up properly. I did mine for the first time by myself and while trying to get photos, and it still came out great. Just take care to not apply pressure to the paper!

Move the paper, and stick down more of the poster. I used a cloth to press it down. Keep going until all of the poster is down.

Step 3: Trim, Sand, Finish

I trimmed the plywood, poster and all, on the table saw. I did it straight after gluing and it didn't affect the edge at all. If you don't have a table saw, a circular saw is fine BUT make sure the poster is face down when you cut. Use a guide (a piece of wood clamped to the plywood). I sanded the edges by hand with 150 and 220 grit sandpaper and sealed them with two coats of clear finish, sanding between coats.

Final product looks good enough that even though this was my first try I'll be happy to hang it in my office.



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    18 Discussions


    1 year ago

    This looks fantastic! I love the look of the plywood edges. I thought I would prefer a flat black edge, but the plywood looks very clean and modern. Did you only clear finish the edges? I was thinking clear finishing the entire front for both protection (scratches/fading) and keeping the edges of the poster down. Also, what thickness of plywood are you using here?

    1 reply

    Yes, I only did the edges. Probably should have done the back too but I was in a massive hurry. No signs of peeling of the poster - that glue is pretty effective. 3/4" plywood.

    Note the main error I made was using a piece of plywood that had been stored outside in humid conditions. When it dried (weeks), it warped. I strongly suggest storing the plywood flat inside before posterizing it.

    Why not a piece of foam core mounting board? It should be lighter, cheaper and easier to work with than plywood.

    Also, I think the acid from the plywood will have a negative effect on the poster over time.

    4 replies

    Flatter, thicker and more rigid, and I like the look of the plywood edge in this context. This poster is pretty thick - almost like glossy card than paper. I suspect it will fade faster from light on the face than acid leaching from the back. The contact adhesive will make for a pretty good barrier.

    How do you know? :P

    Seriously, I'd like to hear your story. What materials/brands were your poster, your foam core, and your adhesive, exactly? I'm sure most adhesives would melt foam, but I didn't know spray adhesive would penetrate the card stock or poster board that covers foam core.

    I see some blue tape on the edges of the poster in that next-to-last photo. Was that to protect them from the clear finish? Is that painter's tape? I'm not familiar with it; is it easy to remove without damaging paper? Was your poster glossy?

    Very nice. I've seen and used the dowel technique, but I like this approach much better. Good stuff! :)

    3 replies

    Thanks. Not sure what the dowel technique is, but I imagine they take the place of the paper? Was really hustling this weekend so didn't get time to research this as thoroughly as I probably should have

    Ha, sorry! Yes, you lay out a bunch of dowels to hold the top layer away from the bottom, and remove them one at a time. I think it might be a trick I saw from someone making laminate countertops.

    The dowel technique works well with a rigid product like laminate counter or wood veneers, but something flimsy like a poster seems to need the paper mask to prevent accidental contact. Also with dowels you usually start in the center and work outward. The goal is to prevent bubbles. Starting at one end and towards the other should also work. I would use a window tint squeegee.

    Thanks. I've not yet - it is standing on an easel. I'll probably just put a couple of screws in and put some wire between them

    This is the first successful way I've seen for doing this! Wish I had this info 40 years ago!

    Nice! The Varaithane is awesome stuff and will make the edges waterproof (for humid environments) and chip proof.

    Easier than I tought, Thanks!

    I like that you used the Periodic table of elements as the poster.