It’s always nice to be a little more organized, and the way to do that is to have pieces around that encourage and foster organization. Bulletin boards are one way to increase organization. They can be quite unsightly, though, so I’ve found a gorgeous way to create a framed map bulletin board, from scratch, that you can use as a regular bulletin board or one that will help you keep track of your traveling adventures and goals.
This DIY project is not hard, particularly, but it does require precision and patience. Mostly, I love the idea of creating a framed piece from scratch. Let’s do it.
DIY Level: Intermediate
- Map of choice (example uses 24”x36”)
- Corkboard to fit dimensions of map
- 1/2″ plywood cut to dimensions of map
- 1” right angle corner trim, as much as map perimeter plus a bit extra for angled cuts
- Spray paint + primer in color of choice (example uses Naivete)
- Wood glue
- Miter saw, nail gun, 3/8” brad nails (not shown)
- Craft glue, foam brush, plastic spreader (not shown)
Make sure your map, corkboard, and plywood are all cut to the appropriate dimensions. You can trim your corkboard with scissors (depending on its thickness).
I recommend making sure the corkboard and map are cut slightly smaller than the plywood board, no more than 1/8” on all sides.
Grab a right angle trim piece.
Use the miter saw to create a 45-degree angled edge on one end of your right angle trim piece, taking care to keep the trim completely flush against the saw guide for precise cutting.
Position the angled end of your trim piece on one of the longer corners of your plywood board. (Hint: Start with your longer ends for cutting trim; that way, if on the off chance you’re a little off on cutting, you can use the same piece of trim for the shorter ends. Less waste that way.)
There is a point of matchup I call the “critical point,” where the inside corner of the trim piece meets up precisely with the corner of the plywood. You’ll need to maintain this position with exactness on one side of your trim while you move to the other end and mark it for cutting.
Ensuring the first critical point is still maintained, use a sharp pencil to mark the critical point on the inside of the other corner. Also make a quick angled sketch line in the direction that your angle should be cut. This is so helpful when you move the trim piece away from the plywood and to the saw, so you don’t have to remember and/or guess.
Position your trim piece on your miter saw so that the inside edge of your saw blade will cut ever so slightly outside your critical point mark. (And isn’t that angle sketch line helpful so you know exactly how to position the trim piece on your saw to begin with? Answer: Yes. Yes it is. So helpful.) You always want to err on the side of slightly too big, even up to 1/8”. Chances are, you’ll think you’re leaving too much space but it will end up perfect. And, even if it’s not perfect, you can always shave a little off the end. That’s not possible if your cut is 1/8” too short. So, if you’re going to err, err wisely.
Test-fit your trim piece. Line up the critical point on one side.
Then check the critical point on the other end of your trim. If they both align perfectly – at the same time – then you’ve got yourself a perfect piece of your frame.
Take your trim piece to your miter saw and trim off one end to the appropriate 45-degree angle. (You’ll find that the existing angle, although 45 degrees, is pointing the wrong way.) Then repeat the stepsto cut all the other sides of your frame.
Note: Some may find this measure-and-cut method inefficient as compared to simply measuring with a tape. It may take a few minutes longer, true, but I’ve found the accuracy (for an amateur DIYer like myself) much greater than trying to measure to get the critical point perfect.
When your four sides are perfectly fitting and cut, it’s time to paint them. Arrange them up off the ground (paper cup stands work great).
Grab your spray paint + primer of choice. For this project, I’m trying out Valspar’s Naivete, a very slightly off-white color that seems softer than regular White.
Working in light strokes, spray paint the trim pieces in multiple light coats. Don’t forget to hit the edges of your pieces with paint. These are hard to see from this angle. This might have to be done when the first few coats have dried and you can flip the trim pieces to see the under-edges.
While your trim pieces are drying, it’s time to attach your corkboard and map to the plywood. Spread out plenty of wood glue onto your plywood.
Use a flat plastic edge to spread it thinly and evenly across the board. Work quickly, as wood glue actually begins to harden relatively soon.
When your glue is spread evenly, it’s ready for the corkboard.
Carefully spread your corkboard over the plywood, and center it. Smooth it flat, starting in the center of your board, and place flat objects on the edges if they want to curl up. (This is probable if your corkboard came as a roll.)
As your wood glue is drying, you can apply your map to the corkboard, so the two adhesives can dry together. Saves time. Mix craft glue with water in about a 2:1 ratio. You want the glue to be runny but not overly watery, as too much water could wrinkle and/orrip your map.
Use a foam brush to spread the watery glue lightly onto the back of your map or onto your corkboard. When the entire surface is covered, flip and place the map onto the corkboard. Use your hands to gently – ever so gently! – smooth out any wrinkles that might form, working from the center of the map outward toward the edges. Set your glue mixture aside with a lid on it; you’ll need this in a bit.
If possible, place some clean, flat boards on top of your map and weight them down. This will help the map’s edges dry in place enough in a smoothed-down position, not curling.
After you’re satisfied that the map isn’t moving anywhere (the glue doesn’t have to be completely dry), it’s time to seal up the front of the map. Your map will likely look bumpy at this point, but don’t worry; it’ll flatten itself out after you “paint” the front with some glue as well.
Use the same glue/water mixture and “paint” the front of your map now with it. Take care, because your map is likely a bit bumpy, not to drag the foam brush over those bumps in a way that would tear or smear them.
View your “paint” job from different angles to make sure you’re not missing any areas. The shine will be different in areas you’ve covered with the glue and those you haven’t. Cover the entire surface. This will make the front and back sides of your map equally moist, which means when the glue/water mixture dries, your map will tighten up evenly and flatten out. Let map dry completely.
It’s now time to add the frame. Position the top trim piece precisely along the top edge of your map, aligning the two critical points at the corners. Use a nail gun to attach the trim piece in place at the place on your trim piece where your plywood is located (about halfway down).
You don’t have to go crazy on the brad nails. I spaced these about 6”-8” apart.
With the top trim piece nailed to the map, grab one of your side trim pieces and align the critical points.
Hopefully, your critical points will match perfectly, which means your corner joint between the top trim piece and this side trim piece will also align nicely. Nail the side trim piece in place, and continue to work your way around the map.
Next, for a little more security, you can nail in a few nails along the front sides of your trim pieces. You don’t want too many of these; three along your shorter trim pieces, and four or so along the longer ones will be plenty.
Take some lightweight spackling to fill in the holes left by the brad nailer.
Fill the holes on the sides and tops of your trim pieces. You can also fill any slight gaps that appear at your corner joints, if necessary. (Tip: If your spackling doesn’t match your paint, you can spray a small puddle of spray paint onto a disposable plastic lid or paper plate or something and use a foam brush to apply the liquidy spray paint directly over your dried spackling.)
To mount your framed corkboard map, find two studs at the height you want to hang it. Use a level to determine where to place your mounting nails.
Pound in your nails.
Choose your hanging mounts.
Tip: Because this framing method results in a slight “lip” along the back side of your framed map bulletin board, you’ll need to choose a hanging mount with a little flexibility, depth-wise. That’s why slightly larger D-ring hanging mounts are ideal, with their rotating hanging feature.
Mark on the back of your map where the mounts should go (aligning with your wall nails), and attach your hanging mounts.
Hang up your DIY framed map bulletin board. You’re done!
It really looks great; the frame is a polishing feature but not distracting.
Can you see how the map flattened itself out after the glue/water mixture dried? It’s important that you don’t freak out and try too hard to flatten it out when it’s wet; you’ll likely end up doing more harm than good.
Our family has had such a fun time pinning a few of our favorite places we’ve gone in the world.
The clean-lined frame gives a classic map a contemporary, custom feel, which I like.
The corkboard on this map is very thin, so pins don’t go in very far; but they seem to work fine for our purposes. You can opt for a thicker corkboard if you’re concerned about this.
We hope you thoroughly enjoy your DIY framed map bulletin board! Happy DIYing!