Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How to Make a Fabric-covered Magnetic Board

Finished Fabric-covered Magnetic Board
We recently updated our kitchen, and before my new appliances arrived I was preparing for the impending loss of our fridge art gallery, assuming that my new stainless steel refrigerator would not be magnetic.  As it turns out, the stainless steel was magnetic, but I couldn't bring myself to put magnets all over my shiny new fridge (or imagine the preschooler fingerprints all over it).  So, I needed a solution.  Enter magnetic boards!

The issue was that the plain white ones with a plastic frame that are so ever-present at office supply stores just weren't adding anything to my new kitchen.  So after a lot (really, days worth) of searching for the perfect board, I decided as usual that making it myself would be the solution.  The best part?  It's a super-easy, almost instant-gratification craft project that is totally functional and looks great.  Have fun!

Supplies needed:

-magnetic sheet metal (I used metal from the duct work department at the hardware store.  Take a magnet to check it's magnetic qualities before you buy!)
-sheet metal snips
-work gloves
-yard stick/t-square and/or measuring tape
-permanent marker
-spray adhesive (I used Elmer's)
-newspaper (or other material to cover your spraying surface)
-thin fabric (Cotton, quilting weight works best- too thick and your magnets won't stick.  Iron first!)
-electrical tape (or similar sticky tape)
-duct tape
-adhesive mounting tape (3M makes some great stuff)


Step 1:
Measure the area that you want to put your magnetic board.  I put mine on the ends of cabinets, but they can go anywhere and fit to any size.  Also, gather up your supplies and find a large, flat surface to work on.
Getting started

Step 2:
Put on your gloves (the metal is sharp!)  and lay the sheet metal out on the large, flat surface.  Use the ruler and permanent marker to layout the design of your board on the sheet metal.  Lay the metal over your fabric, and cut out the same design in your fabric allowing 2-3 inches of overlap on every side.

Step 3:
Use the metal snips (while wearing gloves) to cut out your board design in the sheet metal.

Step 4:
Lay out the newspaper on a surface in a well-ventilated area, and lay the sheet metal (front side up) on the surface.  Be sure to have your fabric ready to go.  Spray the front side of the magnetic board (one side only) with the spray-adhesive.  Quickly move to Step 5.

Step 5:
Place the fabric (right side up) onto the sprayed side of the magnetic board, and stretch to the sides to remove most of the wrinkles and bubbles.  Carefully flip over the board.

Step 6:
Use the electrical tape to tape down the edges of the fabric to the back of the board.  Though the picture below does not illustrate this, tape as close to the edge of the board as possible, as taping to close to the center will make hanging difficult.  Stretch the fabric tight as you move along and trim if necessary.  I like using electrical tape for this step because it can be easily repositioned to tighten the fabric as you go; this might take a few times to get the front of the board smooth.

Step 7:
Flip over the board to the front side and make sure that the fabric is pulled tightly across the front.  Smooth out any remaining wrinkles or bubbles and flip the board back over.  Use duct tape (patterned is so much more fun) over the electrical tape to secure the edges.

Step 8:
Cut and place the adhesive mounting tape along the edges of the board, and stick in place.  Presto!  A new place for messages and masterpieces, customized for your space and home decor!

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