How To Make a Chalkboard Menu Board

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My wife and I usually meal plan for the week on Sunday mornings. We get a stack of magazines, I pull up a recipe planning site on my iPad, and we pick items that are simple and drool-worthy. With our selections made we go grocery shopping, often returning home with a pile of fresh produce. About midweek, though, we'd forget some of our recipe decisions and leave our veggies to veg-out beyond edibility. We needed a more prominent visual reminder. We needed a chalkboard meal plan menu! Here's how we DIYed one.

Leave it to Pinterest to spark an impromptu weekend project. Inspired by a pin or two of chalkboard walls in kitchens, I thought it fitting to have a chalkboard menu prominently on display in the dining room. There was already the perfect nook for it. I didn't just want to paint our white walls black, and I didn't think the chalkboard decals would stick well to our bumpy textured-by-amateurs wall. What just might work would be to simply hang a chalkboard-painted piece of plywood on that wall. Easy, not-permanent, moveable, perfect.

How To Make a Chalkboard Meal Plan Menu Board

What You Need

Materials
Plywood (We used a 2' x 4' board about 3/16" thick)
Wood primer
Chalkboard paint
Small nails
Hanging wire
Chalkboard markers

Tools
Jigsaw

Instructions

1. Draw: Our dining and living room is simple and square. I wanted to class up the space a little bit, so decided to cut out the plywood into a baroque-style silhouette. Do an image search in Google for "mirrors," find a shape you like and make that the silhouette to your menu. You can free-hand it like me, or have a copy store print you a template at the size you desire. Sketch half the silhouette you want onto a piece of construction paper. Cut out the template with scissors and trace over the line with a pencil to draw the shape onto the plywood. Flip over the construction paper and trace the mirror-image of the design over the other-half of the plywood.

2. Saw: With a jigsaw, carefully cut out along the lines of your guide until you have a piece of plywood in the shape you desire. I did this on my deck in my backyard, holding securely more than half of the board to the deck and cutting along the line of the wood that overhanged. Turn, cut, repeat, until you're done.

3. Sand: Sand the edges of your cutout rigorously with some fine-grit sandpaper. Go over the edges several times to ensure a smooth finish all around. You also want to lightly sand the surface of the plywood you want to paint on. When done, rub the surface with a coarse towel or rag, removing all the dust from the wood.

4. Prime: Apply a wood primer to the surface of the plywood you want to display. This will give the chalkboard paint a better ground to adhere to. Let dry according to manufacturer's directions.

5. Paint: Once the primer is dry, apply the chalkboard paint according to the manufacturer's directions. It took us two coats to get a good and even look we were satisfied with.

6. Hang: Get two small nails and lightly hammer them onto the back of the board about eight inches apart. Get some hanging wire and loop them around the nails —making a wire hanger. Tap a nail into the wall you want to mount the board onto. Hang the plywood onto the nail and marvel at your handiwork. Let chalkboard paint dry for a day before using

7. Write on it! Now with all the nice work you did, don't just simply write on it with chalk. Do it like the restaurants and get some chalkboard markers (you're going to love them) they just glide on like paint and erase like chalk. Try to hold in your excitement and don't etch in something permanent like I did with my birthday Guinness cake.

This is one of my favorite DIYs and we use this meal planning menu every week. I must warn you, though, having a can of chalkboard paint is dangerous. It'll inevitably spawn more DIY's and you may not know when to stop. If you like this one, I may even share a few other things that chalkboard paint has inspired me to do around the kitchen.

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(Images: Chris Perez)