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How to Build an Entry Message Center

This clever project acts as a mail drop, key holder, and versatile message center that includes a chalkboard and cork board.

Entry Message Center.

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1 day

Estimated Cost



Make a Letter Box

Step 1

From 1/2-inch-thick poplar or pine boards, cut the bottom (A), sides (B), divider (C), and shelf (D) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram). Prior to any assembly, sand the parts with 120-grit sandpaper.

Step 2

Add the side and the divider.

Mark the locations of the sides and the divider on the bottom (Project Diagram, Drawing 1). Secure one side and the divider on the layout marks with glue and 4d finish nails.

Good to Know

All 4d finish nails are 1-1/2 inches long. Use equivalent-length 18-gauge brad nails if you wish to assemble using a nailer.

Step 3

Install the shelf in the letter box

Apply glue to the top of the divider and the ends of the shelf, and nail the shelf in position. Then glue and nail the remaining side in position.

Step 4

Mark the cap before cutting to final length to achieve a perfect fit.

Cut the cap (E) 1/2 inch oversize to allow for variations in material thickness and any discrepancy in the shelf length. Rest the cap in position, mark its actual length, and cut to size. Glue and nail the cap in place and sand any uneven surfaces smooth.

Add the Back and Tray Holder

Step 1

Glue and clamp the letter box to the back.

Cut the back (F) to size (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram) and sand the panel smooth. Mark the location of the bottom (A) on the back panel, 8 inches from the bottom. Glue the back edges of the letter box, clamp the box in position on the back (Project Diagram, Drawing 2), and allow the glue to dry.

Step 2

Remove the clamps and cut the fillers (G), and back rail (H) to length. Glue the fillers in position, one even with the end of the bottom and the second one adjacent to the side (B) (Project Diagram, Drawing 1). Glue and nail the back rail in position.

Step 3

Assemble the components for the mud pan.

Cut the front (I) slightly oversize. Mark its actual length before cutting the piece to final length. Glue and nail the front in place and sand any uneven surfaces smooth.

Chalk and Cork Board Frames

Step 1

For the remainder of the parts, cut each piece slightly longer than called for. Then trim them to fit before you glue and nail each in place (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram).

Step 2

For the remaining parts attached to the front surface of the back panel, switch to 3/4 inch brads. Glue and nail a short stile (J) to the front of the back panel with the edges even (Project Diagram, Drawing 2).

Step 3

Cut the back parts to fit.

Hold a short bottom rail (K) just above the letter box against the short stile (J); mark and cut it even with the end of the cap (E). Glue and nail the short rail in position.

Step 4

Secure the back details using glue and short nails.

Use the same technique as in Step 3 to measure, mark, and cut to length a tall stile (L), a long bottom rail (M), the remaining tall stile, and the top rail (N). Glue and nail each piece in place.

Step 5

Cut the top (O) to length and attach to the top of the message center with 1/2-inch overhangs on each side and the back edge even with the back face of the back panel.

Step 6

Flip the completed message center over and screw one half of the Hangman system to the back so it is centered side-to-side. Attach it near the top so the screws go through the back (F) and into the top rail (N).

Finish and Hang

Step 1

Apply a primer to the entire project and sand lightly with a fine-grit sanding sponge. Apply two coats of paint to the letter box and back but not to the areas that will receive the cork.

Step 2

Allow the paint to dry for 48 hours, then use painter’s tape to mask off the inside edges of the area that will receive the chalkboard paint. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to apply the chalkboard paint, let dry, and remove the painter’s tape.

Good to Know

Be sure to follow the paint and chalkboard paint manufacturer’s curing time recommendations to ensure a long-lasting finish.

Step 3

Cut the cork tiles to fit the opening and apply spray-mount adhesive to the back of the tiles; press the cork into position.

Step 4

Add the garment hooks, equally spacing them across the front (Project Diagram, Drawing 2) using the screws provided. Also add the rubber bumpers to the back lower corners to protect your wall surface.

Step 5

Secure the remaining component of the hanger to your wall.  If the location allows, use an electronic stud finder and drive at least one mounting screw into a wall stud. Install wall anchors for the remaining screws. Set the mud tray into the letter tray opening to complete the message center.

Customize this message center by adding two chalkboards or corkboards, replacing one or the other with an inset mirror, or installing outlets for phone chargers.