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How to make a magnetic whiteboard 
13th-Jun-2011 09:00 am [life]

Since someone asked how I created my awesome magnetic whiteboard, here is how to make your own. (Step 7 is the key step.)

1. Read a blog post about how someone else uses their giant whiteboard to plot novels with big swoopy arrows or for some other cool purpose. Wish you weren’t a grad student and could afford one/had a wall to put it on. Repeat at least annually for several years.

2. Get frustrated with plotting and structuring novels on paper or a small computer screen.

3. Decide that since you own a house and have a job, you can get a whiteboard.

4. Be shocked by the cost of 5×3 or bigger magnetic whiteboards. Read reviews on Amazon, which reveal shipping problems like bent corners. Decide not to risk it.

5. Notice that there exist things called magnetic paint (it isn’t magnetic, it has metal in it) and whiteboard paint. Read reviews. Get very excited.

6. Dither over dry erase vs chalkboard. Magnetic paint is dark, so would be easier to cover with the also-dark blackboard paint, and the paint manufacturer (Rustoleum) talks about making magnetic blackboards, not whiteboards. Whiteboard paint might take several layers, each of which makes it less likely to attract magnets. The whiteboard paint has much poorer reviews than the blackboard paint. But dry erase is much nicer than chalk.

7. Go to Home Depot and spend ~$50 on one can of Rustoleum magnetic paint and whiteboard paint and assorted rollers and paint trays.

8. Tape off a randomly sized section of wall (a bit bigger than 3×5) based on where the windows are. Forget that the rollers won’t be able to go right up to the edge of the windowsill because they’re cylindrical. Find a drop cloth that might have been a rug pad in a previous life.

9. Sand the wall. A lot. But not enough.

10. Stir the magnetic paint FOREVER, or for the 10 minutes the directions call for, whichever comes first, and then paint the wall. Add a coat every half hour until the entire can has been used. Lose count of coats after 4 or 5. Scrub arms with a pumice stone to get the drops off.

11. Experiment to find out that a magnet will hold 4 sheets of paper and one index card to the wall. Theorize that one layer of whiteboard paint = one sheet of paper as far as the magnet is concerned, so this is ok.

12. Wait a day, then tackle the whiteboard part of the plan. Whiteboard paint has to be used within two hours of being mixed, which means you can do 4 or 5 coats. Four sounds safe.

13. Paint. Discover that the reviews weren’t kidding, the whiteboard paint is very thin and runny, and your wall, which wasn’t flat to begin with, now has rivulets of paint running down it. More thin coats would be better than thick coats, but that’s not possible with the two-hour time limit. Wish that it came in smaller cans. Also discover that four coats isn’t quite enough to hide the magnetic paint.

14. Refuse to fret about the bumps and not-completely-white spots until the two-day wait for the paint to cure has passed.

15. Write. Erase. Stick papers up with magnets. Rejoice.

Mirrored from Elizabeth Shack.

13th-Jun-2011 02:32 pm (UTC)
I'm glad it worked! We do have a whiteboard in the garage, but I don't really have anywhere to put it up so stick to using mindmapping software or sheets of paper.
15th-Jun-2011 03:13 am (UTC)
I keep trying mindmapping software, but I always end up wanting to make items that have two parents or some other structure that it won't let me use.

I still want notecard software for my computer. But this should work just fine.
21st-Jun-2011 08:53 am (UTC)
I actually have two kinds of mindmapping software. One is Freemind, which does insist on a proper tree structure, but the other one is called MapEdit, originally from this Circle of Excellence site. It looks like he doesn't offer it any more, but perhaps looking at "concept map" rather than mindmap might give you something more along the lines of what you are looking for.

I use a positively ancient version of BrainBox which I use for working out the overall plot and structure of a novel/story. Basically I just have a single line across the window with cards arranged along it containing plot points and character notes around the sides. These can be shuffled around until they are in the best order.
22nd-Jun-2011 01:08 am (UTC)
I'll do a hunt for concept maps. Thanks.
13th-Jun-2011 02:43 pm (UTC)
Wow, that's very impressive and not a minor job. Congratulations. I'll confess I did it the easy way when I got a pamphlet with an offer on plain whiteboards and I think the 4ft x 3ft I have was around £25. It was only later I discovered it was actually magnetic. Whether that's a mistake on their part or just that they didn't have plain ones in stock I don't really care. But I do have a can of blackboard spray paint that I'm still debating finding somewhere for and I'll admit I hadn't thought of a wall ...

Also, I have some bulldog clip fridge magnets with very powerful magnets and they hold more paper than the magnets designed for whiteboards.
15th-Jun-2011 03:14 am (UTC)
It's not nearly as hard as I made it sound. :)

I think there are cheaper ones than the ones I found when I first looked, but this still worked out well. I haven't seen any as cheap as yours!
13th-Jun-2011 03:04 pm (UTC)
hmmm - wouldn't picking up a thin sheet (or sheets) of metal and laying down a coat of white enamal be easier?

course, thinking like a model railroader where picking up sheets of metal for scratch building stuff is a given....
15th-Jun-2011 03:15 am (UTC)
Maybe? Given my luck at hanging drapes on my windows, I doubt a sheet of metal would stay up on the wall for long. Maybe if I were competent.
15th-Jun-2011 05:39 pm (UTC)
maybe you could hang the sheet of metal over the window?

hmm - reminds of a humorous story about a cornice board, my late father in law, my late mother in law and a subsequent late night trip to the emergency room....
15th-Jun-2011 07:34 am (UTC)
May we please see a picture of the swooping arrows and papers and all that, when it gets crowded and messy? Pretty please?
17th-Jun-2011 01:54 am (UTC)
If I can blur it so there's no spoilers, maybe. I suspect that will be a grid.
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