Budget Wedding DIY: Vintage Chalkboard Frames

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If you've been looking for the perfect vintage, ornate frame for a chalkboard to display at a wedding or event and can't seem to find the right one, you are not alone. Vintage frames are hard to come by, can be very expensive, or just the wrong size for your project.

Using ornate wood casing and pre-finished black chalk boards, both available at the hardware store, you can create a cheap, one-of-a-kind frame with great vintage flair using the chalk and wax paint technique.

Things You'll Need

  • Hardwood or plastic casing with carved design (recommended: 5/8 in x 3 in x 8 ft)
  • Black chalk board (recommended: 3/16 in x 2 ft x 4 ft)
  • Miter saw
  • Table saw
  • Wood glue for hardwood casing or epoxy for plastic casing
  • Nailgun
  • Nails
  • Wood putty
  • Palm sander
  • Chalk paint
  • Clear wax
  • Deep brown wax
  • 1- 1 in chip brush
  • 1- 1 in nylon brush
  • Lint free cleaning cloth
  • Fender washers (recommended: 1/8 in x 1 in)
  • Flat head phillips screws (recommended: #6 x 1/2 in)
DIY Vintage Chalkboard Frame
DIY Vintage Chalkboard Frame (Image: Flavia Andrews)

Building the frame

Step 1

Position the miter saw at a 45 degree angle. Cut 4 pieces of the wood casing at the desired length. Take into account the dimensions (height and width) you would like your frame to have. The bigger the frame, the more casing you will need. Keep in mind that you might need more than one piece of casing in order to cut all 4 pieces.

Cut casing pieces with a miter saw.
Cut casing pieces with a miter saw. (Image: Flavia Andrews)

Step 2

Create a profile on the back side of all 4 pieces of casing using a table saw. This will allow the chalkboard to lay within the profile, like glass would lay inside a picture frame. It is important to make the cut as deep as the chalkboard depth.

Create a profile on the back side of the casing.
Create a profile on the back side of the casing. (Image: Flavia Andrews)

Step 3

As an alternative, you can create a profile by adding thin strips of wood behind the frame. The wood should be cut at the same length and angle as the casing, but the width should be smaller than the casing to create the profile effect.

You could also skip steps 2 and 3 altogether and just lay the chalkboard right on top of the back of the finished frame, affixing it to it with nails. However, creating a profile makes the chalkboard removable and gives it a more finished look.

Creating a profile on the frame makes the chalkboard removable.
Creating a profile on the frame makes the chalkboard removable. (Image: Flavia Andrews)

Step 4

Use wood glue or epoxy to attach the 4 pieces of casing together to create the frame. Wood glue is generally cleaner, easier to use, and dries faster than epoxy, but both processes are exactly the same.

Use wood glue or epoxy to attach the frame.
Use wood glue or epoxy to attach the frame. (Image: Flavia Andrews)

Step 5

Nail the corners - top and sides- of the frame with a nail gun. Do this immediately after you have glued the pieces. This will reinforce the corners and prevent the pieces from separating. Add wood putty to cover nail holes and wipe clean.

A nail gun helps reinforce the frame corners.
A nail gun helps reinforce the frame corners. (Image: Flavia Andrews)

Painting the frame

Step 1

With the help of a palm sander, sand imperfections and any leftover wood putty and/or glue drips. Clean dust off with a soft cloth.

Palm sanders are inexpensive and a great tool for smoothing surfaces.
Palm sanders are inexpensive and a great tool for smoothing surfaces. (Image: Flavia Andrews)

Step 2

Set the frame down on a clean working surface. Gather your paint and brushes.

Painting with chalk paint is the perfect method for a vintage and shabby look.
Painting with chalk paint is the perfect method for a vintage and shabby look. (Image: Flavia Andrews)

Step 3

Paint the frame with the chalk paint using a chip brush. Add enough paint to reach all nooks and crannies of the design. Depending on the look you want, the color of the casing, and the color of the paint, you can do one or two coats. Chalk paint dries quickly. By the time you finish the first coat on one side, you can start the second coat on the other. Wait for the frame to dry completely before flipping it over to paint the back.

To apply chalk paint, use a wide chip brush.
To apply chalk paint, use a wide chip brush. (Image: Flavia Andrews)

Step 4

Once the chalk paint has completely dried, use the nylon brush to add a coat of clear wax. This will add a nice sheen and protect the chalk paint. Natural light will help you see where the wax has already been applied.

Clear wax protects the chalk paint.
Clear wax protects the chalk paint. (Image: Flavia Andrews)

Step 5

After the clear wax coat has dried, use the same nylon brush to paint 3 to 4 inches of the frame with brown wax, making sure it reaches all nooks and crannies of the design. Don't cover more than 4 inches at a time.

As soon as you apply the brown wax, use a lint free cloth to wipe the wax over the surface of the frame with a left to right motion. This will give the top surface a brown distressed look, while the wax trapped in the design will give the appearance of an old, vintage paint job.

To remove excess of brown wax that has already been wiped, dip a different lint free cloth in the clear wax and rub over the top. The brown wax will return to its natural state and blend. Repeat as necessary.

Apply and wipe brown wax every 3 to 4 inches.
Apply and wipe brown wax every 3 to 4 inches. (Image: Flavia Andrews)

Setting the chalkboard

Step 1

On a table saw, cut the black chalk board to size. Make sure to cut the board at least 1/4 inch bigger than the inside dimensions of the frame.

Pre-made, big chalk boards are available at hardware stores.
Pre-made, big chalk boards are available at hardware stores. (Image: Flavia Andrews)

Step 2

Set the chalk board piece in the frame and fasten it using washers and screws. Separate them evenly. Make sure to fasten important points such as centers and corners.

If you have chosen not to create a profile on the frame and are laying the board down, make sure to cut the board to almost the same size of the frame so you can nail it down and secure it. Remember, if you choose to do the latter, the board won't be easily removable.

Fasten chalk board to the frame.
Fasten chalk board to the frame. (Image: Flavia Andrews)

Step 3

With the chalkboard in place, proceed to create your chalkboard art!

Wedding chalkboard art by Flavia Andrews
Wedding chalkboard art by Flavia Andrews (Image: Flavia Andrews)

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