While simple, this latest project took a little figuring out. As I stated yesterday, I wasn’t really happy with some of the things that I initially drew and like many of the projects I design, it took some revisions to get it how I wanted it to be. I know sometimes people think I just draw, cut and I am done, but lots of times there are some little things that don’t go together quite right or feel right and I have to tweak things just a bit and re-cut or remake them. Other times things get totally scrapped and I have to start over. Fortunately for me, this project wasn’t too bad and while there were some revisions that needed to be made, I do like the outcome.
The final project looks like this:
I like the simplicity of it, and also the cuteness. I have to offer a million thanks again to MrsN (Katie) for her suggestion of making my own felt eraser. I actually bought an eraser at Staples, but it was one of those square and clunky foamy type things and was just “Meh.” Besides – since I wanted this chalk board to be stuck on the refrigerator, how the heck would I keep the eraser handy without leaving it on a the counter? That’s all people need is something else to clutter up their counters. Not to mention getting in the way of food items and making things overall messy. Not good.
I decided to make the eraser something that would go with the kitty theme and cut this simple, but cute paw print:
I painted it tan so the paw prints would show up nicely. They are cut of 1/8” overlay pieces and glued on separately.
For the eraser itself, I made a base of plywood and wrapped it in felt. I also slid in a thin rare earth magnet between the layers and glued it so that it wouldn’t fall out. I love these rare earth magnets (available from Lee Valley Tools) and have lots more projects in mind using them. They are so strong that they will hold up to four layers of felt – although I only put them in two layers deep. I then glued the little felt/magnet packet to the bottom of the paw holder:
This sticks up on the refrigerator very nicely. In testing it out, I think it did a decent job of erasing the board. There was still some residual writing left, but if I dampened it even slightly, every bit of the chalk erased. Now I don’t know if that is because I didn’t really let the chalkboard paint cure the full 24 hours (I was anxious to show it here!) or perhaps because it may need another coat of the paint to give a nice thick base. But either way it is very workable and I feel the eraser I made performed just as well as the one I purchased. I will do some more experimenting and give an updated report on it soon.
The next issue was the chalk tray. I wanted something cute yet functional so that the chalk would also be handy while the board was hanging. I had seen similar boards with the chalk held on by string, but I didn’t feel that was practical and thought that having a dangling piece of chalk would be annoying every time you opened the refrigerator. Also, if any of you ever tried to tie a piece of chalk to string and have it hold, you know how frustrating it could be. Since this is something that I wanted to be fun for the kids too, I didn’t want to go with that idea either.
The answer? Make a little tray that will hold the chalk and keep it handy.
Like many of the projects that I design, I try to use limited tools so that people can make them with just a scroll saw and a drill press and maybe a sander. While I could have routed a piece of wood for a shelf, I didn’t want to include routing in the process. Keith suggested perhaps angling the shelf back toward the main board, but I thought that would be complicated and difficult and the cutting would have to be pretty perfect for gluing. I didn’t want to do that, so I decided to make a little mice ‘rail’ that would hold the chalk onto the shelf.
In my first attempt, I had the tails much longer and flowing. But even with using the 1/4” plywood, which is quite strong, they seemed cumbersome and in the way when picking up the chalk pieces. I wound up going back to the scroll saw and taking off a good third of the ends of the tails and making them more compact, which strengthened the piece and made it easier for little fingers (and larger ones too!) to pick up the chalk. I think they still look fine and they do a great job of holding the chalk from falling:
The final step was adding on the magnets to the back, which was easily done with two part epoxy. Because of the amazing strength of the rare earth magnets, I only used 1/2” discs and they are quite sufficient. I used four of them just to be sure that the board wouldn’t start to slide down each time you opened the refrigerator door and that worked quite well. The result is a simple yet solid project that is both fun and functional.
I really had fun with this project. I am going to submit it to the magazine and see if they are interested in it. If not, I will be putting it on my site very shortly. I like it because it is fun and simple and I can think of so many shapes that would be appealing to both children and adults alike. While it didn’t take the brain of Einstein to figure it out, there were some issues that needed some work to make it look nice and professional. I am even going to include instructions so that you can have it free standing on a counter or a dresser if you don’t want to use the magnets. (And of course you can hang it on a wall)
All in all it was a good couple of days work. I hope you all enjoyed seeing this little project come to life. I am certain there will be more similar items to follow.
Have a fun Saturday! Take some time to play and do something creative!
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"