DIY

How to Make a Secret Whiteboard

When October rolls around, I start to feel giddy. I love the cool, brisk snaps of weather in Texas this time of year, followed by the changing color of the leaves. It’s a reminder of the cyclic nature of our lives. What once was, fades away with the wind.

Halloween encourages the imagination of possibilities. We dress up as something different from ourselves, tell ghost stories, watch scary movies, or contemplate spiritual or unexplained forces that we can’t see.  At first glance, our world may appear one way, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more beneath the surface.

This project reflects that idea. At first glance, it looks like a mural hung on the wall, but behind the mural is a whiteboard, ready to secretly hold information divulged to it.

Steampunk Lady Secret Whiteboard
Steampunk Lady Secret Whiteboard
Secret Whiteboard Revealed
Secret Whiteboard Revealed

Time, Tools, and Materials

This project involves:

  • Creating a whiteboard that hangs on the wall
  • Creating an outer frame with fabric mural that fits over the whiteboard
  • Attaching the framed mural to the whiteboard with paracord

How much time and effort? If you have everything you need, this project can be done over a weekend if you have about 5 solid hours to work on it. This tutorial assumes you have some woodworking tools and skills.

Materials:

  • Fabric mural
  • 3 – 1” x 2” pine boards 10 ft. long each
  • Staple gun and staples
  • 30 – ½ inch nails
  • Whiteboard material
  • 10 ft. of paracord
  • 4 screws with finishing washers
  • 2 – keyhole hangers (if you want it to sit flush with wall)
  • Dry erase crayons for whiteboard

Tools:

  • Kreg jig for pocket holes; Otherwise, 12 – 1 ½ inch nails or screws to secure the frame
  • Drill
  • Sander with 100 and 220 grit sandpaper
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Router (for keyhole hanger)
  • Circular saw or hand saw

Create the Whiteboard

For the whiteboard frame, the wide side of the boards sits flush with the whiteboard material. The 1” x 2” boards form a butt joint. Keyhole hangers attach to the frame on both sides where the frame meets the wall.

To create the whiteboard:

  1. Measure the whiteboard material to the size you want, and add an extra 1.5” on all sides to allow for the wooden frame to sit on top.
    Note: The mural adds additional width to the overall look because it stretches around a wooden frame over the whiteboard.
  2. Cut the whiteboard to size using the circular saw or hand saw.
  3. Measure the 1” x 2” boards for your whiteboard frame.
  4. Cut the boards to size and attach using a butt joint.

    Completed Frame for Whiteboard
    Completed Frame for Whiteboard
  5. Attach each wooden board to the whiteboard from the back, using ½ inch nails.
    Note: If your whiteboard cuts are not perfectly square, you may have material hanging out from the frame.
  6. Trim excess whiteboard from the attached frame.

    Cut Excess Whiteboard Material
    Cut Excess Whiteboard Material
  1. Sand frame.
  2. Measure about a third of the way down on each side of the back of the whiteboard.
  3. Trace around a keyhole hanger on each side.
  4. Cut an indention inside that area with the router.
Cut for Keyhole Hanger
Cut for Keyhole Hanger
Indention for Keyhole Hanger
Indention for Keyhole Hanger
  1. Insert the keyhole hanger and screw into place.
Attach Hanging Hardware
Attach Hanging Hardware

Create the Outer Frame

For the outer frame, the wide side of the boards face each other. The bottom and top boards form a butt joint with the sides. The paracord and screws fit between the whiteboard and the outer frame. Adding additional width accommodates for this space.

To create the outer frame:

  1. Place the boards over the whiteboard and add additional width to accommodate the future placement of the paracord and screws. This give you an idea of how long you need to cut the boards.
  2. Measure and cut boards so that the bottom and top boards form a butt joint with the sides.
  3. Test fit the cut pieces to ensure it fits snugly (but not tightly) over the whiteboard.
    Note: The friction between the whiteboard frame and the outer frame needs to be enough to hold them together.
  4. Adjust so everything fits (cut boards longer or shorter, sand them, etc.).
  5. (Optional) Drill pocket holes in the inside of the bottom and top boards.
  6. Attach the bottom and top boards to the side boards using nails, screws, or pocket holes.

    Assemble Outside Frame
    Assemble Outside Frame
  7. Measure and cut a cross-brace to fit between the two side boards.
  8. Attach the cross brace with nails, screws, or pocket holes.
Perpendicular Cross Brace
Perpendicular Cross Brace

Cover the Wooden Frame with the Mural

The mural stretches over the outer frame to hide the whiteboard, and staples hold it in place. The fabric should be taught, but not tight. If it’s too tight in certain areas, puckers may form on the front.

To cover the wooden frame with the mural:

  1. Cut the mural to size leaving enough space to wrap completely around the outer frame.

    Decide Where to Cut Excess Fabric
    Decide Where to Cut Excess Fabric
  2. Wrap the mural around the frame and staple in place. See this tutorial.

    Staple Fabric to Outer Frame and Trim Excess Fabric
    Staple Fabric to Outer Frame and Trim Excess Fabric

Attach the Mural to the Whiteboard

The paracord attaches to the left and right side of the mural frame as well as the left and right side of the whiteboard frame. The paracord needs to be long enough so the mural can reach the top when placed on the whiteboard. It also needs to be long enough to completely reveal the whiteboard.

Paracord comes in multiple colors. We decided to go with black.

Paracord Comes in Several Colors
Paracord Comes in Several Colors

To attach the mural to the whiteboard:

  1. Drill pilot holes on the left and right of the whiteboard frame.
  2. Attach paracord to both sides of the frame using your screw and finish washer.
  3. Calculate the paracord length so that it completely reaches the top of the frame when the mural is placed over the whiteboard.
  4. Calculate the paracord length so that it can completely uncover the whiteboard.
  5. Note the largest calculation.
  6. Cut paracord according to the largest length, adding slightly more for attaching.
  7. Burn the ends to keep it from fraying.
  8. Drill pilot holes on the inside of the outer frame.
  9. Attach paracord to the inside of the outer frame on each side using your screw and finish washer.

Optional Steps

Paint or Stain Whiteboard Frame 

We used leftover Tung oil from the industrial pipe bookshelf to finish the whiteboard frame (which takes days to cure), but you could also finish it with paint or stain. Make sure anything you use won’t adversely affect the way the mural fits over the whiteboard.

Finishing Markerboard Frame
Finishing Whiteboard Frame

Create a Groove to Hold a Dry Erase Crayon

For convenience, hubby used the sander to form an indention on the bottom part of the whiteboard frame to allow a crayon to rest so it’s always there. 🙂

Place for Dry Erase Crayon
Place for Dry Erase Crayon

Hang on Wall

Hanging it is the most exciting part! We used wood screws to hang in the keyhole hanger.

To hang the secret whiteboard on the wall:

  1. Fit the mural frame over the whiteboard.
  2. Make sure your two anchor points are level, and hang it on the wall.
  3. Test that everything works.
  4. Use dry erase crayons and enjoy!
Finished Markerboard Closeup
Finished Whiteboard Closeup
Open Markerboard in Steampunk Home Office
Open Whiteboard in Steampunk Home Office

Other Creative Ways to Use This Concept

You could also use this concept for a jewelry organizer by adding hooks instead of a whiteboard. You could also use it to hide money, important documents, and so on.

Want to see how our steampunk home office turned out? Click here to see the reveal!

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