After losing the 1,000th sticky note of things I had to get done today, I decided to implement a less disposable solution. This small, stand-alone chalkboard doesn't get buried under the pile of paperwork on my desk. Beyond that, it sits there staring at me all day, which makes it a lot more difficult to ignore.
Use it at the Office: Use as a daily to-do list, to jot notes while listening to voicemail, or to leave yourself a quick message to phone back that number that beeped in while you were on a conference call.
Use it to keep your Family in sync: Keep one on your kitchen counter, in the "landing zone" by your most frequently-used entrance, or wherever your family's hub of activity is. It's a great way to make sure everybody gets the information, even if you're not all home at the same time.
Use it to keep your household organized: Put one in bathrooms and your laundry room to make quick notes about supplies that need to be replenished. Helps make sure there's plenty of toilet paper, and makes sure nobody runs out of toothpaste because they forgot to add it to the list.
Step 1: Supplies
To make this project, you will need:
1 Picture Frame
This project works best with a 9"x11" frame or larger (smaller frames don't leave enough space to write legibly with chalk).
Your frame should have a backer board with a fold-out "kick-stand" so it sits upright on your counter or desktop.
Glass is not needed for this project, so this is a great use for any frame you have that has had the glass broken!
1 Chalk Board or Wipe-off Board
I used chalk boards because I had one already. Chalk is also less likely to stain than a wipe-off marker if little hands get hold of it.
Your Chalk/White board needs to be at least as large as the picture frame you chose.
Hand-saw or circular saw. No need to pull out the "big guns" for this one - leave your table saw in the workshop.
Pencil or marker
You need something to mark with so you know where to cut, but don't use chalk or a wipe-off marker - they'll rub off while you're shuffling things around and you'll have to re-draw your lines. I found a liquid paper pen works great for chalkboards.
Optional - things you don't "need" but if you have them laying around, they'll make for a nicer finished product
This can be used to help "stabalize" the finish on your chalk/white board so the surface doesn't chip as badly if you use a power saw.
Black Marker / White Paint
In the event your surface does chip along the edge, and if the chips are substantial enough that they'll show at the edge of the frame, you can use a black marker to "color in" the exposed bits. White paint can be used for wipe-off boards for the same reason. Don't worry about the chips - you won't write that close to the edge anyway, but if your'e anything like me, they'll nag at you peeking out from the edge of the frame if you don't fix them.
Step 2: How-to & Tips
Disassemble your picture frame - You will need only the frame itself and the backer board (the piece with the kick-stand).
Lay the backer board face-down on your chalkboard (the kick-stand should be facing you).
Tip: Using the factory edge of the chalkboard will give you a "pre-cut" straight line on one side (or two, if you can use a corner). It will also preserve the most excess chalkboard so you can re-use it for another frame or other projects later.
Trace around the edge of the backer board with a pencil or marker.
Step 4 (optional):
If you have painter's tape, tape over your lines - center each strip of tape on your trace marks so there is tape on both sides of the line. Lay your backer board on top of your new tape outline, and trace around it again, making your marks as close to the center of each piece of tape as possible (as shown).
Tip: The tape helps stabilize the chalkboard surface, but only if you saw through the middle of it - having it only on one side of the blade is significantly less effective.
Cut out your board. It should be the same size as the backer-board when you're done.
Step 5 (optional):
Remove tape (if you used it).
Patch chips along the edge by coloring them in with a marker (for white boards, use white tape or liquid paper a.k.a. "White-Out")
Tip: Not all boards will chip, and not all chips will show once your board is in the frame. To save time, slide the chalkboard into the frame to see which chips need patching - you may not be able to see them at all!
Assemble your new message board.
Slide the chalkboard into the frame, then add the backer board. Close any brackets or clasp that keep the backer board in the frame.
Tip: Don't put the extra paper, cardboard, decorative mats, or glass back in the frame. Mats will just get dingy over time from being touched and erased over, and the other inserts will be too thick, so you may have difficulty getting your backer board back in. Don't use the glass - remember this item will be used often, so even if the glass is behind your board, it's still likely to be dropped, bumped, or knocked over semi-regularly.
Step 3: Finish
So there you go... your own tidy little message board. Throw some chalk in a cup next to it and you're all set!
Taking it a step further...
If you were so inclined, you could use paint markers or acryllic paints to decorate around the edges so your board matches your decor.
Last spring I found an empty 16"x22" frame at a yard sale, painted it, and stuck a chalkboard in it, then used a paint marker and ruler to block off a calendar. The month/dates/events we add in chalk - every member of the household has their own color, so it's easy to tell who's got something going on a given day. There's also empty space at the bottom to note things happening in future months so they can be added when the month rolls around. It's bolted in each corner to my pantry door, which is space I would otherwise have had no use for.