Blog Post

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.

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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.

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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.

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I began laying the boards out on the table and then continued cutting out strips to fill up the empty space.

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I used two, three, four, and six-inch wide boards.

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Now that I had enough boards, I needed to cut them all to random lengths so the panel wouldn’t look uniform.

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I rearranged everything and assembled the boards into a pattern that looked good.

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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.

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I applied a good amount of wood glue to each edge and then spread it out with a small brush.

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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.

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Once dry, I pulled off the clamps and cleaned the paper off the back side.

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I wanted the map to have a lot of unevenness and texture so I didn’t sand too much off.

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I marked off the first edge with a pencil and then cut it flush with the circular saw.

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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.

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After some light sanding around the edges, the panel was ready for some stain.

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I applied a pretty heavy coat of stain but then came back and wiped off the excess within about a minute.

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Once that had dried, I could lay out the stencil I would use to paint the map.

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I used some painters tape and secured the first stencil down once it was in the right spot.

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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.

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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.

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I carefully removed the stencil and was super happy with the results.

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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.

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This stencil covered all of Asia, Russia, Europe, and half of Africa. It took quite a while to glue down all the tiny lines.

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Lastly, I painted the bottom half of Africa as well as Australia and New Zealand.

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Once all the paint was dry, I coated the entire map with a few coats of spray polyurethane.

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I bought some cheap roofing nails and pushed them down into an old cereal box.

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I put down one coat of primer and then to differentiate, painted the tops red, green, and blue.

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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!

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To hang the map on the wall, I started by marking out a center line using a ruler and a speed square.

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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.

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I pounded in the three nails for this drywall hook which can hold 75 pounds, much more than the map.

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I hung it up, leveled it out, and it was done.

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My Project Tools

TABLE SAW

MITER SAW

SPEED SQUARE

DRILL PRESS

WORLD MAP WALL STENCIL

CIRCULAR SAW

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