Start the message center by cutting a 12" x 24" [30.5 x 61 cm] piece of quarter-inch plywood into the shape of a house. It's easy to cut plywood using a Japanese style hand saw, which cuts on the pull stroke so it's amazingly fast and efficient! Buff the fresh-cut edges with a sanding sponge to make sure there are no slivers.
Next, measure and mark a 10" x 16" [25.5 x 40.5 cm] piece of galvanized steel flashing, (available in 10-foot rolls in the roofing aisle at Lowe's). Cut the flashing with offset tinsnips, taking care to almost-butnot-quite bite through the metal at the end of each squeeze of the tinsnips (this will minimize jagged spots on the finished edge). File the cut edge smooth using a bastard file.
Apply a generous amount of gap-filling adhesive to the back of the flashing. Use a putty knife to evenly spread the blobs of adhesive. Place the flashing gluey side down on the plywood backing, taking care to centre it. Wipe off glue residue with a damp cloth.
Grab a wood or stone rolling pin from the kitchen and roll it over the flashing to ensure that the metal bonds thoroughly to the plywood base.
Next, roll on a primer coat of Valspar metal paint. It dries really fast and bonds beautifully to the metal surface.
Now it's time to mix up some homemade chalkboard paint to cover the primer. Start by pouring a little regular paint into a paint tray. Then scoop up a small spoonful of unsanded grout powder and add it to the paint in the tray. This powder gives paint a perfect texture so you can write on it with chalk once it’s dry! Use a foam roller to mix the grout powder into the paint until all of the lumps are gone.
Roll the chalkboard paint on over the metal primer coat. You might need a couple of coats of chalkboard paint to cover the primer thoroughly.
TIP: You can use a hair dryer to speed up drying time!
Time to add trim to the message centre! Measure and mark two 16-3/4” [42.5 cm] pieces of side trim. You can use any trim you have on hand; we used 'plywood cap' (from the moulding and trim aisle at Lowe's) because it creates a nice overlapping edge. Cut the trim using a mitre box clamped to your work surface. Kids can do the sawing as long as they put one hand behind their back so they can't possibly hurt themselves. Assemble some additional scraps of moulding for the remaining trim pieces. They don't even have to match! Always sand freshly-cut edges to remove slivers!
TIP: You can use the mitre box to cut trim ends at 45-degree angles so the pieces make a nice point at the peak of the 'roof'.
Squeeze out a nice squiggle of carpenter’s glue along each piece of trim. Put the trim in place and press it gently with your fingertips.
TIP: Because trim is lightweight it tends to twist and warp, so it's best to clamp the pieces in place for at least 20 minutes while the carpenter's glue bonds.
After removing the clamps, it's time to paint the trim! Apply some painter's tape around the edges to protect the chalkboard surface from paint splotches. Now use all of your favourite colours to paint the trim. Keep going till you're happy with all of your designs!
Next cut a triangle of foamcore to match the roof gable area and coat it with some squiggles of white glue. Using your putty knife, spread the white glue evenly over the back of the triangle. Press the foamcore into position on the gable.
Next, cut a matching triangular piece of self-stick cork shelfliner (from the storage and organization aisle at Lowe's). Press the cork onto the foamcoare to make a surface that's easy to press thumbtacks into.
Now make some customized magnets on cut-off pieces of 2x2 poplar lumber or other pieces of scrap wood. Draw your designs with paint or permanent marker. Apply a dollop of white glue to the backs of each square and then press a magnet into the glue. The glue will need at least 30 minutes to dry.
Now draw, tack or magnetize some notes onto your new message centre!
Get a head start on your gardening this year with a seed starting bench. All you have to do is follow our step-by-step guide and take a quick trip to Lowe’s Garden Centre for seeds and heat lamps. You’ll have seedlings in no time!