What You Will Need[edit | edit source]

Here's a picture of what you will need!

Square piece of smooth wood (Squareness is not necessary, but is desired)-

    • Two options for your wood are balsa wood, and 1/4 in. plywood. Ideally it is relatively smooth for less necessary sanding. Balsa wood is normally smoother than plywood. The chalkboard pictured is done on a piece of 1/4 in. thick plywood which is two feet long on each side.

Chalkboard Paint-

    • There are spray and brush paint varieties available. Brush varieties will also require a brush for application. The chalkboard pictured was done using the spray paint variety.


    • Primer is primarily needed with the use of plywood as your wood, because the extra layer will help smooth out the unevenness of the wood. Balsa wood may not require priming, because it is so smooth, and multiple layers of chalkboard paint will be applied.

Options for line marking-

    • Silver (or other color visible on black) Paint Pen: Two paint pens will be needed, because the pen itself releases it's paint quickly. For this matter, this is also the messier option.
    • Silver Sharpie: The silver sharpie option is cheaper, though it does take some patience to apply. The end of the pen will get dry as the line is applied, and will need to be periodically shaken.
    • White Sharpie Marking Stick: This option applies quite a thick line. For that matter, it is only ideal for marking the axis of the graph. To avoid this purchase, thicker lines can be made by making double lines with one of the other options.
    • Permanent Chalkboard Marker: This option is not pictured. If you can find one of these (or order it), it may be the ideal option for marking the lines of your chalkboard.

Yard Stick- A standard wooden yardstick can be used to measure the increments between the lines, as well as acting as a straight edge for the application of the lines. Sandpaper-

    • Sandpaper is optional, especially when using smooth balsa wood, though may still add to the smoothness of the finished board.


    • Pencil is used to mark when measuring increments between lines.


    • Cardboard is used to put beneath the board during painting.

Chalk Piece of Cloth-

    • A moistened cloth works well for erasing and cleaning the board.

How to Make It[edit | edit source]

First, you may need to sand down any imperfections from your wood. This is where a rougher sandpaper may be needed. Smoother sandpapers help for the final touches. The overall smoothness of the finished product is important for the ease of removing chalk after or during use. https://www.appropedia.org/File:Graphing_chalkboard_sanding.jpg Now, you will be applying primer to the wood. This step is not necessary if the wood is already smooth, and with multiple layers of chalkboard paint. Read the label on the can. If there is still roughness at this stage, additional sanding can be done on the primer. It is alright if it is not perfect, the chalkboard will still be functional.

Next, we will start to apply the chalkboard paint. Place the board flat on the ground, on top of a sheet of cardboard for backing. Read the labels on the can. Apply evenly by keeping your hand at a regular distance from the board as it moves steadily back and forth. Holding the can about a foot from the board works fine. It may be suggested on the can to do multiple coats with a few minutes of dry time in between. This is where we get to the final stages of our smoothness. If the board seems too rough, it can be tested while dry with a piece of chalk. If the chalk particles have a very hard time being wiped away then the board may be too rough. It can also be taken into consideration that a moist cloth can be used for ease of erasing on a slightly-too-rough board. That being said, roughness can still be addressed at this point with more sanding, and additional coats of chalkboard paint.

So lets get ready to draw the lines. We will take the yard stick, and measure the length of the board. Mine was supposed to be two feet on each side, though it was actually slightly short. In order to compensate for this, the total length of the board should be measured, and divided in half. Any excess or lack of space can be compensated into the area of the outermost squares. For example, on my chalkboard I want to make inch by inch squares, and I want the number line axis at the center of the board (this is purely for aesthetics, and won't affect the functionality of the project if it is not dialed in perfectly). In order to achieve this perfection, given that my board is just under two feet on each side, and I want to make inch by inch squares, I place the twelve inch mark in the center of one side, by staggering the starting end of the ruler off of the board by half the distance that the board lacked of two feet. I would then proceed to make a small pencil mark at each indication of an inch on the ruler. Continuing to do this consistently all the way around the board should produce usable marks from which to place the ruler for applying permanent grid lines on the chalkboard.

Time to draw the lines. You may have chosen a sharpie which is rated for marks on dark surfaces, or you may have chosen a paint pen (or two) with similar quality. Apparently, the best option my actually be a permanent chalkboard marker, which is intended for this specific job. It may be nice if the lines are done as thin as possible, for the aesthetics and function of the final product. This may be taken into consideration when choosing what to apply your grid lines with. My chalkboard sampled three apparent options, and had some success with all. Place the ruler along two marks which are directly across from each other. Start patiently making these these lines, and be finesseful with your pen (sharpies and paint pens can be shaken with care and cap on away from the surface of the board, too much shaking may cause buildup of paint in the cap, so have care when removing the cap after a shaking session). Slow and easygoing line marking will get you the furthest, though you must take note of when the pen is putting out excess ink, and should be moved a bit more quickly as to leave an even line. At the end of the day, as long as the lines are in the right place, their purpose is served regardless of their imperfection. We can go back over those central lines to thicken them and give the effect of having x and y axis.

All of this is up to you The perfection or imperfection of your board is up to you, and decisions about size, line spacing, color, and anything about the board itself are in your hands. This is merely a format for a basic board which can be used for practice in graphing and geometry. It may be ideal for middle schoolers, as much of their math curriculum focuses on these topics. The idea of this board, is that you have now created something which can be written and erased hundreds of times. Fun time and free drawing can be done on this board. there are no rules. The simple beauty of a chalkboard.

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Authors Skyler Austin Brown
Published 2020
License CC-BY-SA-4.0
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