TUTORIAL: DIY MEMO BOARD

I’ve been doing some work on my daughter’s bedroom makeover and I finally have a project to share with you! One of the items my daughter specifically requested in her new room was a memo board. So I decided to make her a unique one that will fit with the mix of modern and traditional decor in her new room.

Here’s what I came up with…

I took this framed painting I found on Craigslist:

BEFORE

And turned it into this unique memo board:

AFTER

I removed the painting, added some metal dowels in a grid pattern, and spray painted it all gray. This was a project that I kinda just saw in my head and figured it out as I went. Once I figured out the details, it actually became a really easy project.

I think there are a lot of possibilities with this memo board. It can be painted any color to match your decor, but I also think using a stained wood frame and just leaving the dowels unfinished would work great for an industrial or farmhouse look. You could easily paint the dowels one color and the frame a different color too. The style frame you choose can also change the look of the memo board, and you can try different patterns for the metal dowels (see some options in the directions below).

materials + tools

wood frame of your choice
pencil
paper
1/8” x 4’ aluminum metal dowels (the number of dowels you need will depend on how large your project is but I used 4)
drill
hacksaw
miter box
Gorilla Glue
spray paint/primer (optional)

directions
back of frame

ONE. Start with a frame that’s made from wood. It can be a photo frame, but mine happened to be a framed small canvas painting that I found used on Craigslist for $20. The painting itself is boring, but I purchased it just for the frame. I love the ornate detail and the large size (overall it’s about 22”x26”)!

Remove the framed print, any glass and any hanging wire on the back so all you have is the wood frame.

1/8″ diameter aluminum metal dowel

TWO. You’re going to be drilling holes into the side of the wood frame and inserting metal dowels to create a grid pattern. Before you start any drilling, I recommend coming up with a layout for how you want your dowels arranged inside the frame.

I came up with the layout above (feel free to print out the image above and use it if you want). I used Adobe Illustrator to draw my design, but you can just sketch it out by hand on a piece of paper if you want.

Here are some other pattern ideas that you are welcome to print out and use:

Once you have your design figured out, you’ll want to use a pencil to mark the points where each dowel will meet the edge of your frame.

THREE. Drill a 1/8″ hole into the side of the frame at every place you made a mark. I made my holes about 3/8″ deep. You can mark your drill bit with tape so you don’t drill too far. Since I used a diagonal grid pattern for my dowels, I had to drill all my holes at a 45 degree angle so I used a triangle as a guide.

Note that if you’re going to have dowels going in opposite directions like I do, then they will need to overlap each other as shown in the photo above. This means you’ll drill all the holes for the dowels going in one direction first. Then drill all the holes going in the other direction making each hole for those dowels 1/8” higher on the side of the frame than the holes you drilled for the first layer. This will make sure the second layer of dowels sits right behind the first layer.

FOUR. Measure the length for each dowel and then cut the metal dowels so they are each just a little longer than your measurement (like 1/4”-3/8” longer). I used a hacksaw and miter box to cut the dowels by hand (at only 1/8” thick it doesn’t take long).

Once the dowels are cut, insert them into the holes you drilled. If you don’t have enough room to slide both ends of the dowel into the holes, then you’ll need to either cut the dowel a little shorter or drill the holes a little deeper so there’s wiggle room.

I recommend putting a little Gorilla glue on the end of each dowel to make sure they stay in place.

If you have overlapping dowels like mine, then install all of the lower layer of dowels first:

Then add the second layer on top:

FIVE. Now that the dowels are installed, you can finish off the frame with some stain or paint. You can choose to leave the dowels as is or add paint to them too. My plan for my daughter’s memo board was to spray paint everything glossy gray.

Here it is with the spray paint primer on. I wasn’t planning to show you this, but I thought it looked great in a matte white finish. The walls of her room will be white though and I wanted it to pop against the wall so I ended up sticking to my original plan and painting it a glossy gray.

Then I reinstalled the picture hanger on the back of the frame, and it was finished!

I really like how it turned out! I found some gold mini binder clips that I used to add a litter glamour to it. It’s perfect for hanging photos, reminders, inspiration, awards or anything you want to display!

My daughter loves it and that’s all that matters!

I took photos of this memo board in another room because I haven’t painted my daughter’s room yet, but I’m slowly getting there (the holidays always slow me down). I am in the middle of another project for her room that needs to be done first. Can’t wait to get the complete makeover done and share it with you!

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