Give guests a taste of the meal to come with this restaurant-style menu board that rests on a sturdy easel.
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Cut the quarter-sheet of plywood to 24 inches wide by 30 inches tall. Smooth both faces and the edges with 120-grit and 180-grit sandpaper. Spray on two coats of primer and sand smooth. Add more coats and sand as needed for a flat surface on one face.
Because this is interior plywood, even primer and paint will not protect it outdoors in the rain or high humidity.
Apply three coats of chalkboard paint to both faces and all the edges, and let the final coat dry overnight.
Tape off the top 10 inches of the board and paint it the color of your choice (La Fonda Antique Red shown). Remove the tape after the final coat and let dry overnight.
Download the BBQ Menu Lettering Pattern and trace the shapes of the letters on the sign using tracing paper. You can also create your own lettering or a freehand design with flourishes to the letters and ornaments. Then paint to fill in the letters (Ultra White shown) and let dry.
Condition the chalkboard area according to the label directions, wipe clean, and add the menu of your choice. After dinner, flip it over to use as a scoreboard for party games.
Sand all three 1 x 2 x 72 poplar boards with 120-grit and 180-grit sandpaper. On one leg, measure 4 inches down from the top end along one edge and draw a diagonal line from that mark to the end on the opposite side (Menu Board Easel Project Diagram, Drawing 1). Clamp the leg to a work surface beside a scrap board to support the saw base, and cut off the triangular piece from the end. Sand the cut as needed for a flat surface.
Drill two countersunk pilot holes in the trimmed leg about 1-1/2 inches and 3-1/2 inches from the top (Menu Board Easel Project Diagram, Drawing 2). With the plain leg clamped to a flat work surface, glue and screw the legs together using a 1-1/4-inch screw for the top pilot hole and a 2-inch screw for the lower hole. Let the glue dry for two hours before continuing. Cover the countersunk screws with wood putty, let dry, and sand smooth.
Draw a line extending the short edge of the pointed board to the end of the uncut board. Then draw a line across the uncut board from the point of the cut board to the edge of the uncut board where it meets the first line. Trim the end to level the end of the easel when it stands upright.
Measure and mark the inside edges of the legs 8-1/2 inches up from the bottom ends (Menu Board Easel Project Diagram, Drawing 1). Place the 1 x 2 poplar board you’ll use to make the cross brace under the legs with the bottom edge even with the marks (Menu Board Easel Project Diagram, Drawing 2). Mark the brace along the outside edges of the legs, cut the brace to length, and sand smooth. Flip the assembly over, and drill 1/8-inch countersunk pilot holes through the legs and into (but not through) the cross brace. Glue and screw the brace to the legs.
Cut the 1-inch dowels to 24 inches long to match the 1/4 x 2 x 24 boards. Glue and clamp the dowels and 1/4 x 2 boards to form the shelf (Menu Board Easel Project Diagram, Drawing 3). After the glue dries, sand the ends and front board smooth.
Measure up 34 inches from the bottoms of the two joined legs and drill centered 1/8-inch holes. Clamp a yardstick to the underside of the shelf to help center it across the legs at the pilot holes. Clamp the shelf to the legs, extend the pilot holes, and drive 2-inch wood screws to hold the shelf in place.
Apply two coats of stain to all three legs, the cross-brace, and the shelf (Flint shown). After the final coat dries, center the hinge on the back leg with the round barrel of the hinge flush with the top of the leg. Drill pilot holes, and screw the hinge to the leg. Repeat to attach the other half of the hinge to the two front legs.
Screw a cup hook centered on the inside face of the cross brace. Screw a second cup hook to the inside face of the back leg 13-1/2 inches from the bottom (Menu Board Easel Project Diagram, Drawing 2). Attach the ends of a 2-foot length of chain to the cup hooks and close the loops of the cup hooks with pliers.