Chalkboard Block - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Chalkboard Block

 In Shop Blog, Woodworking Blogs

Sometimes a piece of paper or computer won’t do when it comes to fleshing out a design idea. I was revisiting a design sketch from years ago and I was having a tough time getting all the pieces drawn properly. Then I remembered a block of wood that I had in the shop. It is 8″ x 8″ x 16″ and is the basic proportions of the piece I was designing. It is a lot smaller then my intended piece but that is just a matter of scale to make the final design larger.

So I grabbed a piece of chalk and I had an instant three-dimensional chalkboard. The wood had been stained a dark burgundy, as I had used it as a speaker stand when I was in college. The contrast with the chalk worked really well. Of course, you can do the same thing with SketchUp, but it will take a bit longer. And there is a real tactile satisfaction in using your hand to sketch and using your other hand as an eraser.
So because this exercise was so much fun and produced the results I was looking for, I can see building an array of standard forms in miniature size and using them for this purpose. I have a ton of plywood scraps in the shop and with a little blackboard paint, I’ll be good to go.

-Ajax Alexandre

If you are interested in design, check out George Walker’s “Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Design” DVD here.


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Showing 5 comments
  • Steve

    I give up – what is it? I’m guessing maybe a table base?

    • Ajax Alexandre

      Yeah, it’s a table base.

  • Dusty

    I’m old school and feel woodworking done by hand should be designed by hand.


    • tsstahl

      I agree, but I wonder if it is because my design skills are so infantile?

      I rough sketch what I want, explode details that catch what I’m thinking at the time and solve the little issues during the build. Not very efficient, but it works.

      Just recently, however, I began to take notes during a build. I don’t know if I’ll keep doing it because I do woodworking to get away from the exacting grind of my career. I’m on the second project with the notebook and so far it is more of a chore than a help. I realize that it takes time to train/retrain your brain to a way of doing things so I will complete four substantial projects before making a final decision.

  • Jonathan Szczepanski

    Interesting idea. I will have to remember that one.


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