Sidewalk Chalk Stand

Today I made a sidewalk chalk stand out of a set of old shelves and a dowel rod. Several of these are screenshots from the stream that I'm trying out. The quality isn't great on those, partially because my lighting setup is no good for streaming. Hopefully it gets better over the next few.

I like the idea of encouraging people to make sidewalk chalk sketches and notes. I love sidewalk chalk games and things that make the urban environment a little more playful. I put a layer of chalkboard paint on this, but I didn't want to have a large enough canvas that folks were using the stand as a place to leave notes. I don't want anybody to think that I'm trying to get people to congregate in my yard.

After a conversation with the neighbor about if he could take one or not, I ended up removing a piece, so it wasn't 100% full. This might help people think that they're "allowed" to take one, even though it says "free chalk". Design is hard. We'll see what happens.

I have been thinking about this particular idea for a while, it took some time and motivation to take shape. It's just a "take a penny jar" type installation for sidewalk chalk. It's painted with chalkboard paint.

I started with the following shelves:

And some rough sketches.

Then I drafted them out, because I thought I might need to do trig to get the angles right. I ended up just "winging it" on the angles by making sure that the post was at a right angle, and using screws to ensure stability.

I demolished the shelves, and removed the nails.

I sketched directly on the boards according to the slightly hasty drawings I made. One board made up the base, and one board made up the face, together they are trapezoids that go from 8 inches to 2 inches and have a "fold" in the middle. I made all the cuts with a circular saw, right on the bench pictured. It would have been pretty difficult to make a safe rig to use the table saw. I forgot that cutting diagonal to the grain isn't easy, but I didn't say anything about that on the stream. If you're watching now you'll see that I quietly had a bit of a hard time with it. Sandpaper mostly hid the rough edges before I painted.

I cut notches for the post, and the front board. I did all of this with a chisel and a hammer. I think that next time I would setup the router for the dado type thing, but it has an angle in it (toward the center) that was easier to get with a chisel, you can sort of see it in the video.

The rabbet at the bottom of the base (not pictured directly, but in the video) was also cut by hand with a hammer and chisel. The wood was in pretty bad condition, and I would have been better with a hand saw there. I think I might also have been in better shape if I just cut it at an angle with the circular saw.

I also cut the notch for the dowel with a chisel and hammer. I sketched the spot by hand and eye-balled it. One of the key parts of this is that it only needs to be internally structurally sound, it doesn't really need to support any excess weight, so I didn't worry about the joinery all that much.

I spaced holes for the chalk every two inches and drilled them out with a paddle bit. I used a compass for the 2" holes. This would have gone a lot easier if I had a drill press and/or a piece of sacrificial board. I always get a lot of tear-out with paddle bits.

A quick layer of chalkboard paint and 4 wood screws finished this off. The whole build was quick and messy, in order to get the idea out of my head and keep experimenting with streaming my DIY adventures.

I put screws in the top and bottom of the post. Through the face into the side of the dowel, and through the base into the center of the dowel. I also put two screws between the face and the base, because it didn't feel sturdy enough to me. If you look you can see 3 out of 4 screws in the finished picture, they have a bit of a gold tint, since they're brass. I need to paint them if I'm going to leave it outside.

I am experimenting with live streaming of building stuff, and that is over here. If you watch it and have comments or suggestions I'd love your input. Send me an email or leave a comment.

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Issac Kelly