Today I want to share with you how to make this cute little message board. I based it on one I saw at one of the craft stores. It wasn’t super expensive there, but I was looking for an inexpensive craft I could do with a group of ladies. This message board fits the bill! The cost was around $10 per person and we were able to finish it within about a 2 hour window. I did cut the wood and glue the ledges up beforehand, so read through the whole tutorial to see what you can do ahead to make this as a group project.
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Materials and Tools
- 12″ x 12″ Wood canvas — we’ll use the back side, so you want one that has some depth. I got this multi pack on Amazon. You could also use something like this (it’s already painted) or this (has an attached hanger) or this (is both painted and has a hanger) from Joanns.
- One 1/4″ x 1/4″ x 36″ square dowel (I got mine at Hobby Lobby). On all your wood pieces, make sure to get ones that aren’t warped.
- One 1/2 ” x 1/8″ x 36″ rectangular dowel (again, Hobby Lobby)
- 1/4″ x 1-5/16″ x 96″ (8′) piece of lattice molding (I got mine at Lowe’s)
- Small round dowel for stand (optional — I used bamboo skewers I had in my kitchen drawer, but in hindsight should have used larger ones). I’ll give you tips for other ways to display your message board if you don’t want to use these.
- Drill (optional)
- Wood glue
- White and black acrylic craft paint (or colors of your choice)
- Paint brushes
- Painter’s tape (optional)
- Plastic baggie (optional)
- Wax paper (optional)
- Tweezers and weeding tool (optional)
- Cardstock (optional)
- Vinyl letters approximately 5/8″ tall and no more than 1/2″ wide (I cut mine with my Silhouette Cameo). There’s a list of how many I used of each letter in Step 4.
Step 1: Cut and sand the wood
Take the square and rectangular dowel and cut them into 4 equal lengths. That should be right at 9″ but I found the lengths of the dowels you buy aren’t always consistent.
Take the lattice piece and cut pieces that are 3/4″ wide ALL the way down the piece. That should give you approximately 128 letter tiles.
If you want to have a stand, then take the round dowel and cut 2 pieces approximately 4″ long. Drill holes on the lower back edges of the wood canvas, being careful to not drill into the main portion of the wood canvas. I put mine about 1″ up from the bottom edge.
If you don’t have a drill or just don’t feel like it, then you can lean the message board up against something, attach hangers to the back, or set it in a plate stand.
Sand all the wood however much you want to — super smooth or rustic — it’s up to you.
Step 2: Glue the ledges
Put wood glue along one long edge of your square dowel and spread it out with your finger. Try to not let any carry over on the other sides.
Line up one of your rectangular dowels along that glued edge of the square one so that the bottoms are even. Hold it in place for about 30 seconds to make sure it’s adhered well. Repeat that with all the dowels so that you have 4 ledges.
Step 3: Paint the face of the message board
Technically, the flat side is the front of the wood canvas. But we’re going to flip it over and use what is the back. That makes our letter ledges sit down in the frame of the message board.
Paint this inside white — just big square, not the frame edges. Take the paint slightly up the inner frame edge so that when you paint the black there won’t be a gap between paint colors. Try to not let the paint pool up in the corners. Use as many coats as is necessary for the look you like, drying in between each coat. As with any paint, more thin coats are better that fewer thick ones. Switch back and forth between this your letter tiles.
HINT: To keep your paintbrush from drying out as you work on something else, put it in a plastic baggie.
Step 4: Make the vinyl letters
If you bought pre-cut letters, you can skip to Step 5.
I used a simple block font called Tahoma and made it bold. I like a beefy sans serif font, but that’s just personal preference. You can adjust the line and character spacing to fit more on the page. Here’s the letter distribution I used. There are 200 total letters, but since I put one on each side of each tile so I only need 100 tiles. So for example I have 8 tiles that have an “A” on the front and an “I” on the back.
- A and I (8)
- B and C (6)
- D and F (6)
- E and O (8)
- G and H (6)
- J and Q (2)
- K and V (4)
- L and N (8)
- M and W (6)
- P and T (8)
- R and S (8)
- U and Y (5)
- X and Z (3)
- ? and ! (2)
- ” and – (2)
- / and : (2)
- , and ‘ (2)
- ( and + (1)
- ) and = (1)
- $ and # (2)
- 1 and 2 (2)
- 3 and 4 (2)
- 5 and 6 (2)
- 7 and 8 (2)
- 9 and 0 (2) — depending on your font, you may be able to use the letter O pieces for the zero. But you can’t use the 6 for a 9 (I’ll explain why in the next step).
For mine, I needed a piece of matte vinyl 7 1/2″ x 12″ (this is also a great project for using up scraps of vinyl). Because there’s so much on the page, I added some simple vertical and horizontal lines across the page to make weeding easier (weed lines).
These letters will be somewhat small. If you have trouble cutting small on a material like vinyl, check out my Silhouette Cut Doctor series.
Step 5: Apply the vinyl letters to the wood tiles
The ledge is going to cover 1/4″ of the bottom of the tile. Therefore, you don’t want the letter to be centered vertically (up and down) on the tile or else it won’t look centered once it’s behind that ledge. That’s why I said you can’t just turn a 6 upside down to use as a 9.
I made myself a little template from cardtstock to use, marking where I wanted the top and bottom of each letter to fall, along with a center line. That may be unnecessary for you, but if I wing it I seem to always get things on crooked or misaligned. I have a line for the top of the ledge, then another one for where the bottom of the letter falls. That second line is as far above the top of the ledge as the top of the letter is from the top of the tile.
I included the letter distribution on it to let my students know which letters shared a tile.
HINT: If you’re doing this with a group, then it’s a good idea to make a few templates so that everyone has one.
You can use transfer tape or not. It just depends on what you feel most comfortable doing.
Step 6: Paint the edges of the message board and the ledges
Make sure the white paint is fully dry. Because I don’t have a very steady hand, I put painter’s tape on the white right up next to the edges. If you are blessed with hands that don’t shake and a good paint brush, then you can skip this if you like.
Paint the rest of the frame black, being careful that the the paint doesn’t pool up in the crevices. You’re painting everything that isn’t already white. You can do the back or just leave it as is. If you do paint it, then you may also want to paint the round dowels if you’re using those for the stand.
Paint the letter ledges black all the way around. You can paint all sides at once, or do them in sections so that you aren’t having to put wet paint down on something.
HINT: Lay the painted pieces on wax paper to dry, as they shouldn’t stick to that.
Once everything is coated and at least semi-dry, remove the painter’s tape and do any touch-ups as needed.
Step 7: Mark the locations for the ledges
You want your ledges to be really nice and straight and evenly spaced, so it’s a good idea to mark the locations with a pencil on the part of the canvas you painted white. Be careful to check where you drilled the holes if you did that — that’s the bottom edge of your message board.
The width of your frame edges may be a different size, so you might need to do your own math. I wanted the top edge of the tiles on the top ledge to be the same distance from the top of the frame as the lower edge of the last bottom ledge was from the lower edge of the frame. I figured out that placement, then put the ledges an equal distance apart.
If you’re using ledges and tiles the same size as mine, then you may be able to put your ledges in the same locations as mine. Here’s what I used for placements, measuring from the top of the inner edge of the frame to the bottom of each ledge — 3″ down, 5-1/8″, 7-1/4″, 9-3/8″.
I drew a faint pencil line centered on the frame, 8-3/4″ long.
HINT: If you’re doing this with a group, then you can make templates ahead of time with the measurements. In my Silhouette Studio software, I made a square the same dimensions as the inside of my frame. Then, I made long, thin rectangles and placed them at the locations I had measured. I cut that and labeled which edge was the top of the frame.
Lay the template inside the frame and draw inside the slits.
Step 8: Glue the ledges on
Squeeze out a line of wood glue along the back of your first ledge. The edge you want to glue is the back side of the one you glued before. The wider piece of wood is what faces up, as that’s the ledge that keeps the letters in place. This time, be extra careful to not have too much glue. If it seeps out, then it probably won’t dry white or clear.
Put the glued edge over the line you drew with the bottom of the ledge slightly below the line so that it covers it. Hold in place for 30 seconds. Then repeat this for each ledge.
Step 9: Finish the message board and Enjoy!
If necessary, touch up any painted areas. After that, flip your message board over and paint the back if you like and you haven’t already. Put the round dowels into the holes to form a stand.
Mine fit good and tight, but if yours aren’t add a dab of wood glue to hold them in.
I used a little metal container I found on clearance to hold my letters.
Now go on over to Pinterest and find some awesome quotes to share in your home with your lovely message board! I’d love it if you share a few of your favorite ones in the comments below.