White boards are a staple to every good office and they are readily available at almost every retail store. For weeks and weeks I hunted for the perfect white board to go with my office decor (nothing crazy, simple black furniture) but all I could find at a reasonable price was cheap plastic framed boards in a size that I didn’t want. Everything that looked good to me was in the $150-$250 range for a 2’x3′ white board. Who wants to spend that much money (especially because I wanted to buy 3 boards)?
While I was re-framing a poster, it dawned on me that I could easily build a white board and have it be exactly what I wanted, at a fraction of the price. So that is exactly what I did! If you are in need of a nice but inexpensive white board (or chalk board), this is the project for you! This project can be completed in 2 days (it’s mostly drying time depending on how you want to finish your frame) and is easy enough for a beginner woodworker to complete. The wood and white board pieces cost less than $20, so why not give this a try (plus you will be able to build a few picture frames with the scrap wood)!
- 1″x2″x8′ Pine Boards
- 2’x3′ White Board (look in the peg board section of your local hardware store, they will have these 2’x3′ panels of white board/chalk board for super cheap!)
- Wood Glue
- Painter’s Tape
- Picture Frame Turn Buttons
- Rust-oleum Ebony Stain
- Rust-oleum Spray Lacquer
- Paint Brush
- Turn Buttons
- D-Ring Hangers
- Rubber Bumpers
- Tack Cloth
- V Nails
- 1/2″ Rabbet Router Bit
- 45° Chamfer Router Bit
- 1/4″ Round Over Router Bit
- 4 Way Corner Clamp
- Miter Saw
- Sand Paper
- Speed Square
- Painter’s Pyramids
- Needle Nose Pliers
- Applicable Safety Equipment
Let’s Get Building!
The first step in this project is to measure the thickness of your white board. Most are 1/8″ thick, but it doesn’t hurt to verify. You are going to want to create an inset for the board to sit on in the frame to secure it. The inset is going to be created with a 1/2″ rabbeting router bit. To make this inset, set your router bit at 1/8″ depth and make the first pass of our wood, then run it through one more time just to make sure you got a clean cut.
Depending on your skill level, you can decide how to shape the frame to suit your decoration style. This is how I decided to do it since I wanted a little character to my frame:
To achieve this look is super simple. Start with a 45° chamfer bit and only have it partially raised (you don’t want the full bit exposed because you will start cutting into your inset). I tested a few times to find the height that I liked before cutting my framing wood. Run the wood through the router with the inset side face down, facing the bit. Next use a 1/4″ round over bit on the opposite side of the board to soften up the end. That’s it and now your frame has some character to it and it looks more professionally finished.
Now it’s time to start cutting your boards down to size. Start by measuring your white board, then adding 1/8″. You want to measure the inset edge (where the edge of the frame is going to be) and cut the 45° there. Do this for one long side and one short side.
At this point you want to line your two pieces up at the corner and check with a speed square to make sure your angle is exactly 90°. Once that’s done fit in your framing material to make sure it fits properly, with an extra 1/8″. Once that is confirmed use the pre-cut pieces to measure the other two sides, this will make sure your sides are identical in size. If your sides are off even an 1/16″ from each other your corners will not line up properly even if your angles are perfect.
Recheck your pieces by putting them together and adding the white board to make sure it all fits properly. Lightly sand the wood if needed, I usually do a once over with 150 grit sand paper, especially because some sides of the wood (primarily the inside of the frame) will be difficult to get once glued up. Once that is done it’s time to glue the frame together. To do this you need wood glue, a brush, painter’s tape, and a 4 way corner clamp. Start by adding a small amount of glue to the end cuts of the sides. This will help seal the edges and create more secure corners. Then simply lay frame on a piece of painter’s tape, add glue, then secure corners with tape that goes across each corner (both front and back). Repeat this process for all the corners and let dry. Then add the 4 way corner clamp and tighten, wiping off any excess glue. Let dry before moving on to the next step.
Once glue is fully dry, remove tape and sand any areas that have excess dried glue. This is very important to make sure you get it all, otherwise you will be able to see the glue when you stain the wood. Now you need to install the V-Nails into the corners to add extra strength to the frame’s corners. This is key to having a long lasting frame because over time with the expanding and contracting of the wood, the corners will weaken over time. The V-Nails will keep them secure. Simply take the V nails and line up on the corner of the frame (on the back) and while holding in place with pliers, then hammer in place. Add two V-Nails per corner and repeat for all the corners.
Once that is done it’s time to stain your piece (or finish your frame however you would like). I used Rust-Oleum Ebony wood stain because I wanted it to match my furniture without having a glossy paint look. Start by wiping down your frame with a tack cloth to get rid of any dust, then follow your stain’s application instructions. I recommend when the frame is drying to use painter’s pyramids resting on the inset corners to make sure your finish doesn’t get damaged. Once the frame is dry, you can seal it with some type of protective coat. I used Rust-Oleum lacquer spray for mine because it gave it a semi-polished finish and it will make it easier to dust than leaving the wood bare (I have 2 dogs who love to shed!).
The last step once you finish dries is to secure the white board and add hanging hardware. To secure the frame I used turn buttons, placed about 1/4″ from the inset. I spaced them 5″ from the corners, then one on the halfway point of the long sides. You can use a more permanent method like glazier points (this will impact the depth of your inset by about 1/8″ so this needs to be determined ahead of time) but I liked leaving the white board open to either replacing it down the road if needed or being able to easily turn it into a chalk board. Now you just have to install the D-Rings on whichever corners you want. I wanted my frames to hang with a portrait orientation because I build 3 for a longer wall. Simply screw in the D-rings, making sure to use the same exact measurements for placement, otherwise you will have a nightmare trying to get them level while you are hanging them. Add 2 small clear rubber bumpers in the bottom corners so the frame will sit flush with the wall.
That’s it! You are all done and have a great but inexpensive white board (or chalk board) that you can use for years and years! Since most hardware stores only sell 1″x2″ pine boards in 8″ pieces, you will probably have a decent amount of scraps left over. Instead of throwing them in your scrap bin, you can re-cut the inset and use it to make smaller picture frames instead of throwing it out. Then you will have picture frames that match your white board! Follow the same steps for building a picture frame or check out our Barnwood Picture Frame post (just skip the barnwood aging steps).
Disclaimer: Please make sure with all your projects that you have read your equipment’s safety manual and are following the recommended safety precautions. We are not responsible for the results of your DIY projects as results can vary based on your skill level, quality of materials, and age of your equipment.