how-to: make a chalkboard (for hand-lettering!)

to make all your hand lettering dreams come true! (<–or something like that).

A couple of weeks ago I made up my own chalkboard to practice with as I was lucky enough to be asked to do some chalkboard hand-lettering for an event (you may have seen some of the photos of my practice I posted on instagram). I used to do the chalkboards every week at the bakery I used to work at, but have never done anything like this before so I was super-excited but also super-nervous! Hence the practice board.

SO, without further ado, here is what I did…

Quick Guide to making a Chalkboard (for hand-lettering practice)



Masonite hardboard– approx. 6mm thick (I got one 1220x12440mm sheet but ended up using just half the sheet for this project). I used the type that has one “waffle-textured’ side, but for a nicer effect using the double-lined board would be the way to go.

White Knight Chalkboard Paint (in Black)- 250mL can (not the spray version). This did 2 coats on my 1220x1220mm sized board- with a little bit to spare.

Paint Roller + spare brush (either use a roller that you can dispose of after this project or check out cleaning instructions here for how to remove the oil based paint with mineral spirits)

Paint Tray (and some scrap plastic sheet to use as a liner if your paint tray has old paint dried onto it like mine did)


Disposable Gloves (<– wear while using the oil based paint and spirits for cleaning up)

Mineral Spirits or Turpentine for clean up

Desirable: Somewhere to lock your pets away and a nice day where its not raining if you are working outside 🙂

This is actually a really basic project- your cut your board to size and paint it- however I picked up a few tips along the way that might be useful to some. With this project its all about the set up because you’re working with an oil-based paint and also you want the chalkboard surface to be really smooth and blemish free.

1. Set-up your workspace: I worked outside on our deck, so if you do that make sure its a nice day (not too windy or wet!). Put a clean, non-dusty drop sheet down. Place your board (with edges sanded down if you cut any edges) flat on to the dropcloth, and give the surface a really good wipe down with a damp cloth (not too wet!). Let the surface dry out again.

give the board a good wipe down to remove any residue on the surface


2. Shake your paint (or mix it!) really well, and pour into your very clean paint tray- or you can line your paint tray with a clean bit of plastic (eg a cut up thick-type shopping bag or the kind of plastic lining that is used to cover construction supplies). This makes tidy up easier and because the paint is oil-based, it also means the dried on paint won’t be re-suspended in your new paint.


3. Use your roller to apply the paint to the clean+dry smooth side of the hardboard. I applied the rolls all in one direction across the board, then did my second coat in the opposite direction. Allow first-coat to dry according to the paint can instructions (I left mine overnight, moving it upright and inside once it was touch dry. This is to make sure the board didn’t warp into a curved shape- a possibility if lent upright while still wet). Make sure there are no little cats roaming around that will walk over your drying board (= what happened to my board on the second coat 😦 ).


4. Clean up your equipment: clean the brush with a small amount of mineral turps in a old container. I wrapped the roller up tightly in a plastic bag after giving it a very quick wipe down with mineral turps, so I could use it again for the second coat the next day, and that kept quite well.

5. Apply your second coat– rolling in the opposite direction to your first. Clean up as above, and use these instructions to clean your roller. Allow your paint to dry for 24 hours before using any chalk on it.


6. Prime your board– I found that its a good idea to cover your whole board with chalk and really rub the chalk into the board with a dry cloth (I used a piece of felt), then wipe the board down again with a damp cloth. This helps to prime the surface and means that your initial chalk projects aren’t really difficult to remove from the board.


7. Get chalking! If you have ever looked into hand lettering you would have heard of the chalkboarding greats like Dana Tanamachi and Shauna Lyn Panczyszyn. Also check out these wonderful hand-lettering artists for inspiration:

Mary Kate McDevitt

Danger Dust  <– these guys are amazing- you have to check them out!!

Chris Yoon (creator of the much pinned ‘Lost Art of Handlettering’ chalkboard)

Chalk: If you are in Auckland, you can get chalk for cheap at Geoffs Emporium, and I also managed to find a very colourful assortment of chalks from Montmarte art supplies. Another really useful piece of equipment to have is a chalk pencil (<–great suggestion from Besotted Blog). You can get them at art shops- I got mine at Geoff’s! They are super useful for fine details. I am really starting to like chalk- its such an understated and simple medium but so fun to use!

christmas is coming!


Have fun making your chalk board. I’d love to know if you do make one- leave a comment 🙂





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