I think it’s safe to say that most people–if they want a forty-eight square foot chalkboard in their mudroom–would go out and buy a couple of quarts of chalkboard paint, roll that shit on, and call it a day.
I, on the other hand, decided to build myself a six foot by eight foot, two hundred pound freestanding chalkboard. Because really, what fun would life be if you weren’t constantly under the threat of being smashed by a very large piece of slate*?
That’s right. I like to keep things exciting on the farm. Also, I hate chalkboard paint.
So let me tell you about this ridiculously large chalkboard that I built. People often ask me how I manage the farm, the house, and the rest of my life (that includes an actual full-time job) without going completely bat-shit crazy. Truth: I don’t. I’m flying by the seat of my pants most of the time. Over the last year I’ve told myself that I’m not going to be able to get everything done if I don’t have a good system for managing things. Chalkboards have been my organizational medium of choice, as evidenced by this tall chalkboard…
And my extra large desk calendar…
But, surprisingly, neither of these things had quite the, ah, width, to handle all of the stuff that goes on my little farm. I’m not sure how the big farms do it, but I decided to manage everything by building a chalkboard that could fall over and turn me into a Kit-pancake.
I’m so full of good ideas.
So here’s how this future-catastrophe went down (or, I guess, up):
I really wanted the chalkboard to be 6×6 to fit the dimensions of the room, but it ended up being significantly cheaper for me to buy two 4×6′ chalkboards. Let’s be honest, it’s just a little large for the space, but I’m not going to argue with twelve more square feet of room to write down stuff I need to do.
In order to frame this beast in, the donkeys helped me select just the right wood from the rubble pile…
And then I laid it out to get a good feel for how big the chalkboard would be.
There was a lot of time spent pulling rusty old nails out of the boards at this point so that I could cut the pieces down to size. Have I mentioned how much I love this miter saw lately?
Also, have I mentioned how hard it is to square a frame that is significantly taller and wider that you are? This is the first time I’ve tried this, and it sucked…
In fact, to this day I remain unconvinced of its squareness.
Anyway, I knew the actual chalkboards (which I purchased) weighed around 150 pounds put together, plus twenty-eight lineal feet of 2×6 barn wood, so I had a good indication that this thing wasn’t going to be light-like-a-feather. I also didn’t really comprehend that it would be over two-hundred pounds. Luckily I decided to fabricate it in the mudroom to minimize transportation.
I joined the pieces with some very large angle brackets. Since I didn’t have clamps big enough to hold this beast together to ensure a tight fit, I decided to let the drill do the work for me. You can see I set the screws towards the “far” end of the bracket holes so that when I tightened it down, it would bring the pieces more closely together.
Worked like a charm.
To set the chalkboard, originally I was planning to cut a notch in the frame pieces so that it would fit inside, but after some consideration I decided that might cost me an eyeball given the number of rusty nails embedded in the old wood of the frame. Instead I decided to rip down some barn wood that was the same thickness as the chalkboard.
I nailed these pieces to the back of the frame to create a “lip” the chalkboard could set in. Then, I attached the chalkboards with some metal straps and shims.
And all of that was easy compared to the singular task of reaching down, picking up this heavy-ass chalkboard, and then lifting it over my head to prop it against the wall.
That shit was crazy. One pound heavier and I’m not sure if I would have been able to get it upright. As it was, I had a moment mid-lift where I thought I wasn’t going to make it, but it’s amazing the kind of strength you can muster when the alternative is being crushed like a tin can on an ugly pink floor.
Once the chalkboard was in place, I used a projector hooked up to my computer to make a first pass at “chalking the field”. (I mean that as literally as possible. I actually chalked the outline of my field on this thing.) My plan was to include an aerial view of the property, and my typical chore lists.
As with many first-drafts, this one left something to be desired.
I ended up going back to chalkboard genius Dana Tanamatchi for some inspiration for the header…
And I’ve been slowly filling the rest of it in over the last week.
I love the center of the chalkboard. The greeting, and the aerial view of about a third of the property…
I’m still working on the lists a bit, but I’ve tried out a few different looks…
The board includes:
- Yearly “calendar” for notes by month
- Garden planning (including quantities and planned rotation of plants)
- Current 5 project list
- Farm chores list
- Notes throughout the site plan of timing to turn compost piles, future structures/landscaping, and property maintenance.
It’s still a (very large) work in progress. The lists and uses may change, and if one day I don’t need forty-eight square feet of chalkboard to manage my life, I can always turn it into a huge piece of art. But since that day is not going to be tomorrow, the next thing I’ll be tackling on this board is “The Back Four” which will include my plan for planting some kind of crop(s) before fall and spring of next year.
And that is what you do with a ridiculously large chalkboard.
*It’s not actually slate. It’s half-inch particle board skinned with a magnetic porcelain surface but that didn’t sound nearly as much fun to be smashed by.
do I dare ask how you will ultimately change the ugly pink tile with this now sitting on top of it? 🙂
That’s… going to be a problem, actually. I’m not even sure two people can reasonably move it.
Are you going to nail the top to the wall or secure it somehow? I’m sure cat, donkeys, and the nuggets would not like a kit-pancake at all.
maybe 6 of us on a bonfire night could shim it up high enough to get a board with wheels under it? With the reward of smores after, I’m sure we’ll find the strength 🙂
As a list person, I am totally IN LOVE with that!
I know it is a chalkboard meant for adding and changing what is written on it but are you going to somehow make the header permanent? It is just such beautiful artwork and I would live in fear that it could be so easily smudged.
I thought about using a chalk marker at first (I think they’re a little more durable) but the truth is, even if it gets a little erased, I can just chalk over it again! Plus you never know what it will end up being in the future.
Good point! I shouldn’t be afraid of do-overs! 😉
Now see, I thought you had sweet chalk drawing skills. Good thinking with the projector. And I’m very jealous of your chalkboard in general. I am an avid list maker and my 2×2′ white board pales in comparison to this. You’re welcome to come make me one of those any time you’d like =)
Just an observation…… Why not paint the wall with chalkboard paint then attached the barn beam frame to the wall….less weight and might not fall and kill you in the future.
Make this into a door on barn track so you can move it on the wall…. don’t know the dimensions or layout of the room so this maybe a stupid idea.
You must have missed that part where I said I hate chalkboard paint! lol. (Hate may be a strong word, but there’s no comparison between that shit and an actual chalkboard, especially for re usability.)
Also, the room is exactly the size of that chalkboard basically (there’s about 4″ on either side, and a closet door, and that’s it) so there’s nowhere to slide it too. But that would be an awesome idea in a much larger room!
This is seriously awesome and I love it. I caught myself mentally trying to fit one into my house, but, sadly, couldn’t find a spot. Give me time, I will.
This is amazing. Utterly amazing. (And props to admitting that you hate chalkboard paint. I think everyone secretly does, we’re just afraid to say so.) I am not a fan of chalkboards, but this gorgeous thing makes me want to put one up in our house.
I was also not a fan of chalkboards until I saw Dana Tanamachi’s work. Seriously impressive.
Really cool. The board already is a huge piece of art. Also, I love the name Liberty House Blackfeather Farm,trips smoothly off the tongue. You have really got me wondering what you are going to plant on the back four…
I vote for sunflowers! Maybe that was the sign she got a few weeks ago!?
That chalkboard is incredible. I have to figure out where to put one on my walls. I think I found the space.
Great, inspired, beautiful idea.
I LOVE IT!
Beautiful, wonderful project. I love the way you go big or go home! But also I had a little moment of vicarious panic when I realized that you’ve lodged those hideous pink tiles under there.
This has me wondering about using slate instead of drywall…
I can’t believe there are so many other women out there that love power tools like I do! My husband bought me most of mine and gifts for Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, mother’s day, etc. Even my children have gotten in on the deal of giving me tools. Any kind, all kinds, I just love them. I have a daughter that is following in my shoes and helps me do any reno and repair around my house. My mother was the same way. I love your blog and seeing all that you work so hard on. Your babies (animals) are wonderful! By the way, did you know that the fur around the hooves of equine are called “feathers”? I thought the “black feather” idea came from your donkeys. So, there is another connections to feathers for you!
Really nice blog! These are good tips about blog.
In my office room I have almost a full wall of mirrors covering a closet. I write directly on the mirrors with dry erase marker. Yours is so much finer. There’s something about chalkboard… It’s like the difference between holding a book and looking at one on an e-reader.
This is AWESOME!
Where did you find 4×6′ chalkboard? I’ve been trying to find it to use as a tabletop background and can’t seem to source it despite google searching. Would really really appreciate if you shared your source:)
Really cool work!
Billy Boards manufacturing.
Totally love your style! Found my antique slate and I’m going to build a frame with you instructions.
Ok…so I just scored a 15ft by 4ft chalkboard for free…but I’m not entirely sure what to do with it… assuming I don’t get squished in the process of moving the thing, any ideas on what I can do with it? 🙂
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