If you follow along on social media, you might have spotted a Q & A I did over on the Dremel Facebook page. I was so thrilled when they asked me to partner as a Dremel Maker this month to bring you a super fun tutorial. They challenged me to make something with the theme ‘play’ and since we already made all the yard games we’d been dreaming of last summer, I though it was the perfect opportunity to create a score board.
I LOVE how this ended up turning out you guys! I wanted to do something that was more fun than a standard square chalkboard and really wanted to add a hand lettered element (it seems like I find a way to add it to everything lately!). So when I was looking through the Dremel tools and spotted the Moto-Saw which is a baby of a jig saw and a scroll saw, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I’ve been totally inspired with Virginia from Fynes Designs‘ scroll saw skills but wanted to try using my hand lettering instead of a font. Popping that over a large circle chalkboard got my husband’s vote when we were drawing up ideas, so I ran with it.
Here’s what you’ll need to make your own:
- Fine Plywood (I used 3/4″)
- Pencil and string to draw circle
- Hand Lettered Template
- Transfer Paper (or see below for another method), tape and a pencil
- Dremel Moto-Saw (or a jigsaw and a scroll saw if you happen to have them!)
- Fine sandpaper (I used 120 grit)
- Chalkboard and bright paint
- Super glue, construction adhesive or similar
- Black screws to attach to fence panel
The first thing you’ll need to do is decide how large you’d like your circle to be. We went pretty big, and I love it. Shane reminded me it should be big enough that the kids could use it to color and we could to keep score. I used the elementary way to draw out my circle- with a string and a pencil. It worked just fine for me (after a couple false starts!). You’ll want to cut the piece of plywood to size (fairly close anyways) with a circular saw or something similar, before you cut it into a circle with your finer saw.
I used the Moto-Saw to cut the circle out, just like you would a jigsaw. It was really convenient to use one saw to cut both the circle and the lettering- I just kept it out all afternoon. The big difference between the Moto-Saw and an actual jigsaw is that you hold it from the bottom, so need to apply upwards pressure as you cut (where as a jigsaw you press down). Because of this, there is also an arm (like the scroll saw), so you can only cut straight so far before you run out of space. This just means you’ll need to cut away the scrap as you go and isn’t much of a factor in a shape like a circle. When it’s cut to size, sand the snot out of it to make the edges nice and smooth. I had quite a fine plywood so the face didn’t need much.
Now for the lettering! If you want to do the same wording that I did, you can CLICK HERE to download the free printable template that I hand lettered. Just print it out (two pages) and tape the pages together. If you are doing a different word or letters, print them out or draw them out to make your own template. I used transfer paper (found at the craft or art store) between my template and plywood to transfer the design. You just tape it all down and trace your design firmly with a pencil to create the transfer. If you don’t want to head out and get transfer paper- I hear ya. I usually hack it, but I have to be honest- this works much better. To hack it, just color like crazy with a pencil on the back of your template, then flip it over and do the same. The outline will be much fainter than what you see here.
Next is the fun part! The Moto-Saw clips in to a table base (that just clamps on to your table surface) and becomes a scroll saw. I have been dying to get my hands on a scroll saw since rooming with Virgina at SNAP. She’s a freaking genius with those things and since I got my Moto-Saw, I’m totally addicted. It really is the most fun tool that I’ve used (but maybe that’s because I was cutting out lettering which is my fave right now).
I had Shane film me using it, because I love watching things like this. It does take a bit of practice to get smooth curves- you can definitely see where I started, and by the end I was a lot smoother. I found the trick was to go quicker through the corners than you want to. As long as you keep the wood moving through the saw, you can do pretty tight corners which was a nice surprise for me.
To get in the little nooks, I used a drill bit slightly larger than the blade, then threaded the blade through that. I was worried that these little bits would be difficult, but I found them easier than some of the sharp angles in the other parts of the lettering!
When you’re all done, give it a light sanding. I used 120 grit sandpaper and just rolled up a small strip as pictured to do the lettering. I used a palm sander on the circle chalkboard piece.
Next up… painting! It was a really warm day when I painted this you guys (I know you’re not supposed to paint when it’s warm, and now I know why). The paint dried as I brushed it on. You can still see some of the brushstrokes on the chalkboard because of this. After one coat on the chalkboard, I switched to a paint sprayer (find my beginner tips on that here). The chalkboard paint sprayed great, to my surprise! The color I used for the lettering is a fun pinky red called ‘Fresh Berries’ by Para Paints. Paired with the script and the black and white… it kind of reminds me of vintage Coca Cola!
When the paint is dry (I did a couple coats), use a glue or construction adhesive to attach the lettering to the chalkboard. I think I need to ask Virginia what type of glue she uses, because I wasn’t too happy with how thick the one I tried was. But it dries clear, so you’ll never know ;)
I wanted to make sure it was secure since it’s outside (windy) and in reach of wild children. I chose to screw it directly into our fence using black screws. And looking at our fence in photos makes me realize how badly it needs to be stained! But that’s a project for another day. Oh! And remember that if you want to be able to erase your chalkboard and not have the lines forever showing… prime your chalkboard by rubbing a piece of chalk on it’s side all over, then give it a good wipe before writing!
I’m so happy with how this guy turned out and even more happy with how darn easy (although a bit time consuming) it was. This totally gives me confidence to turn more hand lettering into cutouts! What do you think? Would you try it? And how about yard games… do you have any and how do you track scores?