This week I’m building a giant wall map. Its a simple project that can be done with very limited tools. Check out the video to see what I did.
I started by drawing a rectangle on my outfeed table. That would make it easy to lay all the boards out.
I grabbed a bunch of one-by scrap boards that I had on the lumber rack. I didn’t really care how wide they were because I would be ripping them down anyway.
Since not all the edges were perfectly straight, it would rip the board an extra quarter inch wide, then flip it over and rip it to final width.
I began laying the boards out on the table and then continued cutting out strips to fill up the empty space.
I used two, three, four, and six-inch wide boards.
Now that I had enough boards, I needed to cut them all to random lengths so the panel wouldn’t look uniform.
I rearranged everything and assembled the boards into a pattern that looked good.
To glue everything together, I needed the boards upright. I forgot to put down some paper earlier, so I had to do it now. I moved everything over, put the paper down, put everything back.
I applied a good amount of wood glue to each edge and then spread it out with a small brush.
All the boards were dropped flat and then tightened down with some long clamps. I wanted random heights and ridges so I didn’t try to keep them flat.
Once dry, I pulled off the clamps and cleaned the paper off the back side.
I wanted the map to have a lot of unevenness and texture so I didn’t sand too much off.
I marked off the first edge with a pencil and then cut it flush with the circular saw.
I flipped it around and did the same thing on the other side. I discovered that I was a little careless during the glue-up and left one of the rows short. I removed the glue, cut a new piece of fit, and glued it in place. Once it was dry, I cut it back with the others.
After some light sanding around the edges, the panel was ready for some stain.
I applied a pretty heavy coat of stain but then came back and wiped off the excess within about a minute.
Once that had dried, I could lay out the stencil I would use to paint the map.
I used some painters tape and secured the first stencil down once it was in the right spot.
This stencil was pretty detailed. Somehow, I had to hold down all the tiny country borders. If I left them alone, the spray paint would hide all the lines. The easiest way I could think of was using a hot glue gun.
I covered up the rest of the panel and sprayed it down using a white spray paint. This was my only coat so I made sure that I had sufficient coverage, but not enough to cover up the wood grain completely.
I carefully removed the stencil and was super happy with the results.
I’m not sure why they broke the countries up the way they did, but Alaska was on its own. I taped it down, covered up the edges, glued down the high spots, and sprayed away.
This stencil covered all of Asia, Russia, Europe, and half of Africa. It took quite a while to glue down all the tiny lines.
Lastly, I painted the bottom half of Africa as well as Australia and New Zealand.
Once all the paint was dry, I coated the entire map with a few coats of spray polyurethane.
I bought some cheap roofing nails and pushed them down into an old cereal box.
I put down one coat of primer and then to differentiate, painted the tops red, green, and blue.
I pounded a blue nail for every country I’ve been to, a green one for the ones my wife has been to, and a red nail for all the countries we’ve visited together. Clearly this is just a work in progress, there’s a whole lot of world we haven’t seen yet!
To hang the map on the wall, I started by marking out a center line using a ruler and a speed square.
I used a picture hanger hook but drilled out the holes so I could more securely attach it with screws. I just used some random half inch screws and then brought it inside.
I pounded in the three nails for this drywall hook which can hold 75 pounds, much more than the map.
I hung it up, leveled it out, and it was done.
My Project Tools