I’m back with a fun project that makes a perfect birthday or Christmas gift. Remember those cabinet doors I found on a curbside trash day?
There were three of them, and I used the largest to make my game room snack tray.
The other one became a floor desk for my cute little niece.
I had one more left, and a birthday for another niece coming up. When I came across this super cute chalkboard easel at RH Baby & Child, inspiration struck. I loved this easel, but at $119 + shipping, I knew it wasn’t coming home with me. I figured I could make my own version for much cheaper.
I started with a couple of pine 1×2′s, and made my frame. I made two of these frames, one for the front, and one for the back. They’ll be hinged at the top to make the A frame.
I cut my frame to the dimensions necessary for my cabinet door. These dimensions actually work pretty well for a child’s easel, even if you don’t have a cabinet door to work with. You can just use a piece of fiberboard nailed to the back of the frame to make the chalkboard (this will make it look exactly like the RH version). If you are using a cabinet door, your dimensions may differ from mine.
I cut each easel leg at 15 degree angle. I wanted my legs to sit flat on the floor, and this seemed to work perfectly. Once I had all my pieces cut, I used my Kreg Jig to join the top and bottom of the frame to the legs.
With my frames made, I attached the cabinet door to the front of one of the frames with Gorilla Glue, a brad gun, and LOTS of clamps. Then I took a leftover piece of 1×3 board and made a chalk tray.
I cut my chalk tray the width of the finished frame. Since my bottom piece was 18″ and my 1×2′s were 1.5″ wide each, my chalk tray was 21″ long. Yours may vary depending on the width of your cabinet door and/or the width of your 1×2 boards. Once I had everything cut, I made a mark to indicate where I wanted to route my chalk channel. I used a 1/2″ straight bit to carve a channel in the tray to hold chalk.
Then I attached the tray to the bottom of the cabinet door with Gorilla Glue, clamps, and lots of nails. I filled all my nail holes with putty and gave everything a good sanding.
When everything was sanded, each piece got a good coat of my favorite Zinsser Cover Stain primer. I love that stuff!
After the primer was dry, I taped off the center of the cabinet door. Then I gave the whole thing several light coats of Rustoleum spray paint in French Lilac.
I let my paint dry for several hours. Then I used 2″ utility hinges to join the back and front together. The frame then got a coat of my favorite Ralph Lauren Smoke glaze to distress it all a bit. Once the glaze was dry, I applied several light coats of Minwax Finishing Paste and buffed it out.
I removed the tape from the inside of the door and covered my newly painted surface with plastic. Then I taped everything off so I would have no chance of over-spray on my pretty purple finish. After I was satisfied with my taping job, I applied 3 light coats of Rustoleum chalkboard spray paint and let the whole thing dry 24 hours.
Once your chalkboard paint has cured, you’ll want to season it by rubbing the side of a piece of white chalk all over the surface. Then you can erase it. I season it a couple of times before I draw on it. This prevents the first images you draw from “ghosting” on your nice, new board.
Then, to prevent my easel from collapsing on itself, I attached about 15″ of fine chain to the inside of the legs. I just picked up a cheap chain (sold by the foot) from Home Depot and attached it with wood screws.
The chain allows the easel to open only so far. It works great, and doesn’t prevent the easel from being folded up for storage either.
That’s all there is to it! This easel is the perfect size for a party sign, and can be easily used by little ones for school or play.
I just love the contrast of the chalkboard and the lavender–much more fun than the original from Restoration Hardware, and way cheaper, too!
Between lumber ($3), hardware ($5), and paint ($4), I spent $12 total! Don’t you just love a good repurpose? I’m fresh out of cabinet doors now, though, so I’m going to have to go dumpster diving again real soon. ;-)
Thanks for stopping by!