Photo Memory Board – Easy Wooden DIY Project
Create this beautiful and simple photo memory board for yourself or the picture lover in your life! With minimal hands on time and materials, many of which you likely already have if you craft or DIY regularly, you can make this easy wooden DIY project to hang in any room of your home (or dorm room!). To add a little extra depth to this photo memory board, we use wooden letters for the words instead of stenciling with paint, and the metal clips blend seamlessly into many styles of home decor—from classic or modern to rustic or shabby chic. We hope you enjoy this photo memory board DIY project as much as we do!
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My Mom the Photographer
Photographs have always played a huge role in my life. For as long as I can remember, my mother has taken pictures of just about everything, and while I know some may find that distracting, I freaking love it. She’s captured so much over all these year—everything from childhood birthday parties to family holiday celebrations to graduations, vacations, and weddings to the seemingly mundane moments of everyday life that we too often forget to appreciate.
Mom, I cannot thank you enough for taking all the pictures; as I get older, I realize how easy it becomes to take life for granted (as well as how memories become a little hazier – yikes), and I truly love that I can look back over hundreds (maybe thousands) of your pictures that captured every moment, small or grand. I love you. <3
The Belated Photo Memory Board Christmas Gift
Last year sometime during the holiday shopping season, my mother and I were wandering a craft fair, and she noticed one of these rustic, sort of shabby chic style photo memory boards with a painted quote and some tiny clothespins. She thought it such a clever and adorable idea, but it didn’t really fit with the style of her home decor. I figured surely Cory and I could make her one for Christmas without too much trouble that would better match her aesthetic.
This should have been accomplished. This is not a difficult project. Seriously. However, I forever over plan and over schedule my
days life and assume I can accomplish far more in any given period of time than is truly feasible, so we seriously struggled to find time to create handmade gifts that holiday season. Luckily, my mother has endless patience in addition to her mad photography skills, and she graciously accepted the little card that said “elves still working” on Christmas day. Fast forward 4 months, and we finally created her photo memory board. I know, I know; I really need to get it together, right?
Photo Memory Board DIY Project
Since Mom has three adorable grandkids that grow oh so very quickly, we knew she’d love this photo memory board that allowed her to quickly and easily change out photographs. The DIY project I’ll outline below is actually our second attempt at this. The first time, we stenciled the words on, but it just seemed a little lacking. The memory board needed a little more depth, so we spray painted wooden craft letters at the suggestion of my office mate (Thanks GG!).
This photo memory board makes a fabulous wall hanging for just about any room and honestly requires very little hands on time, few tools, and minimal supplies. It’s also a fairly inexpensive project, especially if you dabble in crafts or DIYs; may have some or all of these materials lying around already!
Photo Memory Board Materials:
- Wooden Board, to cut down or already of desired size (ours is 20” x 20”)
- Wooden Craft Letters
- Photo Clips
- Wood Conditioner*
- Stain* in color of choice
- Polycrilic* in finish of choice
- Spray Paint in color of choice
- E6000 Glue or nails** to attach clips
- Wood Glue
- 2 Sawtooth Picture Hangers
- Rags and/or Brushes for conditioner, stain, and poly***
- Small foam brush for wood glue
- Sandpaper (we used 100 and 220) or Sanding Discs for orbital sander
- Masks to wear while sanding, staining, polying, etc.
*Make sure your conditioner, stain, and poly are all either both water-based or oil-based. We prefer water-based because the fumes are way less noxious, but we have noticed fewer color choices at some places for water-based stains.
**If using nails to attach the clips, make sure the head is large enough that the clips won’t slide out, and be sure the nails aren’t too thick or too long for your board.
***We tend to use a foam brush for applying wood conditioner, rags for stain, and good quality synthetic bristle brushes for poly.
Photo Memory Board Tools:
Photo Memory Board DIY Quickie Instructions:
The full blown instructions make this project look way more daunting than it is; I just wanted to provide further instruction for anyone that may not be accustomed to staining, using poly, etc. This photo memory board truly is a great beginner DIY and takes very little hands on time. You’ll wait for dry times, but active time is pretty minimal. So here are your quickie steps!
- Cut board to size if needed.
- Sand board.
- Stain board.
- Spray paint letters.
- Poly board.
- Attach sawtooths.
- Wood glue on the letters.
- Attach clips with nails or E6000.
- Add pictures.
- Hang and enjoy!
Photo Memory Board DIY Full Instructions:
- If necessary, cut your board to size.
- Put on your mask! Breathing in sandpaper or stain (even water-based) or poly is zero fun and definitely not ideal for your health.
- Sand the board until smooth. We used our orbital sander, first with 100 grit then with 220. Make sure to sand the front face of the board as well as the sides; you don’t want rough edges catching hands when you hang the piece, and smoothly sanded boards will help accept stain more evenly. I also sanded the back just a little because ours had some rougher spots and I wanted to; not totally necessary.
- Condition your wood on the front and all sides according to package instructions; we use a foam brush to apply wood conditioner. While you may be tempted to skip this step, wood conditioner makes a significant difference in the evenness of the staining and greatly improves the look of the finished product.
- After waiting the appropriate length of time (check the container), stain the front and sides of your board, per package instructions. We use rags for staining, both to apply the stain and to wipe off the excess after we’ve let the it sit for a few minutes. The longer you allow the stain to sit, the darker the final color will appear. With the chocolate stain we used, we leave it sit about 3 minutes before wiping off the excess.
- If you want a darker, deeper color for your photo memory board, you can apply further coats of stain, waiting the appropriate amount of time between coats (check packaging). Once dry, lightly sand between coats, using fine (220) grit sandpaper. Wipe sanded surfaces with a clean cloth before applying the next coat of stain.
- While waiting for your coat(s) of stain (and/or poly) to dry, spray paint your letters, making sure to coat evenly and lightly. Multiple light, even coats generally look best with spray paint! We needed 3 coats of spray paint, but I think 2 might have sufficed if I hadn’t accidentally stepped on several of them while they were drying… oops. Be careful not to spray near your board, as you don’t want speckles of spray paint to drift to your beautifully stained wood!
- After letting your final coat of stain dry, lightly sand with fine (220) grit sandpaper; wipe down surfaces afterwards. Then, apply poly per package instructions. To ensure even, clean application, we prefer to use synthetic bristle brushes to apply our poly. Watch out for drips, especially on the sides of this piece, where they can hide more easily.
- Repeat step 6 as needed, waiting the appropriate (check the package) amount of time between coats. We generally recommend 2-3 coats of poly on a project, and on this one, we used 3. Do not sand after the final coat of poly.
- Attach your 2 sawtooths to the back of the board now! It’s way more of a pain to do so after the clips are attached to the photo memory board.
- Lay out your letters and clips as desired; maybe take a picture to refer back to in case things get moved.
- Using a small foam brush to apply the wood glue lightly to the back of the letters, attach your letters to the board. You really don’t need much of the glue, and you definitely don’t want the glue squirting out past the edges, so go easy! We found that not all of our craft letters wanted to lie perfectly flat, so after we had them glued on the board, we carefully set strips of foam board across the glued letters and then placed some heavy-ish stain containers on top to weigh them down, helping the letters to dry flat.
- Attach your clips. You may need to wait for letters to dry first, depending on placements. If using nails, just nail them in place. If using the E600 glue (wear a mask! This stuff stinks!), make sure you read the instructions on the glue. It really does seem to work better if you apply to both surfaces, wait the allotted time, then glue them together. Just be sure to mark your spot on the board, so you know where to apply and attach! We had to hold them in place for a bit before the glue seemed to take hold. A little goes a long way with this glue as well, so apply carefully!
- If you used the glue wait the full 24 hours for the E6000 to dry; I know it’s kind of a pain, but it holds fantastically if you let it cure fully.
- Hang, clip on pictures, and enjoy your finished photo memory board!
Hope you’re loving your brand new swanky photo memory board, and I hope it brings you as much joy as it brings us and my mom! She keeps hers in her office above her monitor, so she has smiling grandchildren to lift her spirits all day long! If you used a different phrase or quote, let us know in the comments below; we would love to hear from you! If you’re looking for other great DIYs, check out our Ceramic Tile Photo Display or the Miniature Bud Vase project. If you’re looking for another easy wooden project with a totally different vibe, maybe you’d like the DIY Dowel Rod Art Wall Hanging or Bottle Cap Catch!
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