Make a Tabletop Chalkboard Your Kids Will Love
This past year has been a difficult one for parents, and finding ways to keep our kids entertained has been a monumental challenge. Now you can scratch the next project off of your search list with this tabletop chalkboard that is sure to keep them busy for hours…and maybe even give you a little downtime! It’s fairly easy to make and using a water-based stain and finish will make cleanup a breeze. A win-win for everyone!
What You’ll Need
- Wood board (I used a 12 x 12 pine board)
- Fine grit sandpaper (if necessary)
- Wood staining sponge or rag
- Protective gloves and table cover
- Water-based wood stain (I use SamaN in cherry)
- Water-based wood finish (I used Varathane Diamond Wood Finish Exterior – glossy)
- Chalkboard Vinyl
- Permanent Vinyl for personalization (optional)
- Font: Chalkboard (or any font you prefer)
- Transfer Tape
- Weeding tools and scraper
- Cricut Explore Air 2 (or another cutting machine)
How to Create the Tabletop Chalkboard
Prepare the Wood
You’ll start by lightly sanding the wood (if needed) to remove any roughness and imperfections; ensuring that all sides of the board are smooth to the touch. Remove excess dust with a slightly damp (not wet) rag or paper towel.
Allow to dry for 15-20 minutes.
Let’s Start Staining
With the staining sponge or rag, rub a small amount of the water-based stain on all sides of the wood, taking care that you apply an even coat. I used SamaN in cherry, but you can use any brand and color that you prefer; however, it is very important that you use water-based stains and finishes only. Anything oil-based may cause the vinyl to eventually peel and/or lift.
Allow to dry for 1-2 hours.
Time-Saving Tip: To greatly speed up the application time, painter’s pyramids are very handy! They allow you to stain your entire project at once, without having to wait for each side to dry before applying stain to the other sides.
Designing the Chalkboard Vinyl
While you are waiting for the stain to dry, open up Cricut Design Space (or another cutting program suited to your machine). Select “new project” to open up a clean canvas.
First, we will be creating the design for the chalkboard vinyl. You can choose to keep it very simple by inserting a square from the shapes menu and adjusting the size to be slightly smaller than the dimensions of your wood board. But if you are like me and you would like to “fancy” it up a little, you can create a chalkboard with some fun edging! To do this, open the image library in Design Space and search for “scallop edge square overlay” to find the free design that I used. Insert the image, unlock it, and size the shape according to your wood board.
As my board is 12 x 12, I made my design to be 11.5 x 11.5. This allows for some space on the sides to see a nice contrast between the vinyl and wood; while offering plenty of play space for my daughter.
At this point, you can change the color to black to get a better idea of how the design will look before adding in some extra embellishments.
“Jazzing” it Up with Personalization
Next, we will add some simple designs to personalize the board! I used the Chalkboard font in bold to add my daughter’s name, changed the color to white, and centered it at the top of the square shape that we just designed to see how it will look.
I know that this font can be tricky to cut, so keep in mind that the smaller the word is the trickier it might be.
My daughter loves stars so for some extra pizazz, I inserted the star shape 3 times, changed the color, and positioned and sized them the way that I like it. After grouping them, I duplicated and flipped the copy horizontally and placed it at the other end of her name. Once I adjusted the sizing and centered them, I attached both sets of stars together so that they retain their distances on either side.
You can really have fun with this part of the project. Get creative and personalize the board to suit your child’s personality!
Once you have the designs the way you like them, we are ready for cutting!
Remember, for the large square design we are using the chalkboard vinyl and for the personalized sections we are using permanent vinyl. I used some gorgeous holographic mystic vinyl from Stick it Vinyl for the stars, because who doesn’t love sparkles?
Cut, weed, and apply your transfer tape. Set aside.
Finishing the Wood
Back to your wood! Now that the stain is dry we can add our coat of water-based wood finish. This not only leaves you with a beautiful end product but also helps the vinyl to stick much better to the wood so I highly recommend adding a coat or two. I used Varathane Water-Based Diamond Wood Finish Exterior in gloss. Even though this will be for indoor use, I prefer to use an outdoor finish so that the board will be protected when cleaning.
Take your foam brush and dip it into the can of wood finish, making sure to wipe off any excess so that it is not dripping. Lightly coat all sides of the wood board. If you wish to add a second coat, wait 2-3 hours before applying.
Once fully coated, we will have to wait 24 hours for it to cure before applying our vinyl. The hardest part of this project is waiting for the coats to dry!
Applying the Vinyl
After 24 hours we are finally ready to add our vinyl! Applying vinyl on wood can be tricky as it is a textured surface; so we must transfer it slowly and burnish with our scraper very often as we lift the transfer tape. The exterior wood finish that we applied yesterday helps this process go much more smoothly versus without it, but it doesn’t make it infallible. Let’s put on our chalkboard!
Grab the chalkboard vinyl that you set aside and remove the transfer tape from the backing. Carefully center the transfer tape/vinyl on the wood board. Once you are happy with the placement, you can begin burnishing with the scraper. When you are ready to lift the transfer tape off, do so little by little and continue burnishing as you go. If you notice the vinyl lifting, lay the transfer tape back down over that section, and burnish again.
After it has been applied and the transfer tape is off, start burnishing again with a light hand so as not to damage the vinyl; but strong enough to ensure that there are no air bubbles and it adheres well.
Using the same steps as above, you can now apply your personalized embellishments.
After all of your vinyl has been placed you can set it aside for 24-72 hours (more waiting) to allow the vinyl to fully “cure” on the board.
Once cured, reward yourself by enjoying a cup of coffee while your little one creates their own designs on their new tabletop chalkboard!
Keep on Crafting!