Dry Erase Idea Board

Fun Project Under $30

As many of you do, I spend much of my time building things with a keyboard and mouse. I am a strong believer that every once and awhile you should make something with your hands. It gives your brain a chance to break free, design and problem solve in an entirely different way. So, in that spirit, I thought I would share my most recent endeavor as a DIY project.

I was in Lowes Home Improvement the other day and stumbled upon “Mark-R-Board Wainscot” (item #61082). It is an 1/8 inch sheet of Masonite coated with Dry Erase material on one side. At under $11 for a 32”×48″ sheet, it was hard for me to pass up. After all, I have been looking for additions to our studio space to promote and stimulate creativity…oh, and it sort of gave me a “Big Idea”.


1 “Mark-R-Board Wainscot” (item #61082). Each 32×48″ sheet

1 Standard Black Sharpie (for tracing the pattern)
1 King Sized Black Sharpie (for outlining the drawing)
1 Metallic Silver Sharpie (for creating the metal part of the bulb)
1 large piece of paper – an old newspaper would do (to make the pattern)
A pair of scissors to cut out your pattern
A key hole saw or utility knife (with several, new spare blades)
Utility Knife (with extra blades) or Key Hole Saw

1 Dry Erase caddy and eraser kit


Step 1 – A Pattern:

Dry Erase Pattern

I started on the backside of the board; drew and cut out paper templates from scrap paper. You can see I used a ½ pattern for the bulb, taped it on the center, traced it and flipped it to make it symmetrical. For the “metal” screw part, I drew it out all the way since the threads make it asymmetrical.







Step 2 – Tracing:

sharpieI carefully traced the whole thing with my trusty Sharpie; this is how it looked when the pattern was removed:



now, it’s time to cut out our shape…

Step 3 – Cut Out:

utility_knifeYou can use a key hole saw or even a sharp utility blade to cut out the shape being that the board is so thin. CAUTION: If you do decide to use a utility knife as I did, BE VERY CAREFUL – THEY ARE EXTREMELY SHARP. It is tricky and one slip can do a lot of damage to a finger or any other body part in its path.

Make relief cuts (pictured below) in either case so you can break up the work – believe me, it will make things much easier.


TIP: Work slowly when using the utility blade. I make my first cut, not in an effort to cut all the way through, but to create a groove for my blade to follow as I work my way through making a succession of passes with the blade. Practice on a piece that you know will be excess.  If you choose to use a key hole saw, here is a good primer.


Step 4 – Blank Shape:

Once you have it cut out, flip it over and admire your work – but not for long. Now it’s time to add the detail…









Step 5 – Decorate It:

sharpiesFor this, I got some permanent Sharpies, a jumbo black and metallic silver pictured here. This is a good way to add permanent items to any dry erase board and will allow us to really make our bulb come alive.








Step 6 – Broad Outline:

bulb_outlineI used the black to outline the bulb – I wanted to have a hand drawn look to it, so rather than masking off the area with tape, I went freehand on my details.









Step 7 – Details:

metal_threadsNow, to deal with the metal threads, I use my metallic silver to start working in the shapes.










Step 8 – Finishing Touches:

thread_detailThen I use some pointalistic shading by dabbing the black marker (an old ink illustration trick).










Step 9 – Enjoy:

dry_eraseAnd now for the last detail: I picked up this dry erase caddy at OficeMax – it neatly holds the markers and eraser on the wall next to my fancy, new board.



I put this together for under $30 in a couple of hours. It was a good break from my day and will provide a fun way for us to brainstorm for years to come. In case my light bulb doesn’t light up your imagination, you can just as easily come up with your own design. Some other ideas:

  • Smart phone or tablet using the screen as the board
  • Elephant: to remember things
  • Clouds: a new take on cloud storage?
  • Your company logo (if it should lend itself)

The possibilities are endless – just remember to have fun with it.

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