I’ve been making panels for the 2D prints I’m doing in the gizmo(logy) series. I purchased the smaller sizes from Cheap Joe’s to save some time building, and was impressed with both the cost and the quality. But once I got the process down, I ended up making a variety of panels at home.
Here’s a quick how-to:
I’m building the frames with Select Pine 1×2’s for the edges, and 1/4″ sanded pine plywood boards for the tops. The sides and top are held together with wood glue and clamped down to dry for at least an hour. I tacked the corners of larger frames with a brad nailer for added strength.
These are ready for routing. I’ve got an inexpensive Porter Cable fixed base router that handled these great. I’m using a edger bit for these, which cuts everything nice and flush. Clamp the panel down to your work space to hold it steady and they are ready to go.
Rout all around the edge of the panel to get nice flush edges. These guys are now ready to be sanded. Sanding gets any remaining “edge” flush as well as cleans up any excess glue you may have. 200 grit. I also sand the tops. Even though this is “sanded” Pine, there are a few stray hairs of wood that can be annoying when you start laying prints down. This sanding will save you some headache.
Now they are ready for the prints. I’ve trimmed my prints so that they still have a small edge for easy handling. Once they get wet, you want to be able to hold on to them without rubbing off the image.
First, the tops of the panels get a generous, even coating of modpodge (not thick, but well coated). I dip the print in water, and the lay it carefully out over the panel. Set down one edge, and let it roll down the rest of the way, to help prevent air bubbles. It helps to have an extra set of hands for the larger prints, but these little ones are easy to slide into place without tearing the print. Just be sure to only touch along the edges, so you don’t smudge your image.
This usually pushes modpodge out the edges which you can easily wipe up. We’re still going to clean up the sides later. Now, the prints dry overnight. I cover mine lightly with plastic so they dry slow and evenly. If any of your corners or edges pop up a little during drying, you can tap them back down with a little extra modpodge and let them dry. Getting your print nice and wet first, though, should help prevent pulling. I usually soak for about 10 seconds and blot with some towels, catching the extra water runoff.
Resand your edges to clean up the borders of the print, or any modpodge drippings on the sides. I also sand at an angle, giving the edge a nice bevel, but not too extreme. Gives it a clean look. On some of the prints, I used a superfine 400 grit sandpaper to “age” the edges as well.
Once the paint is completely dry, these guys are ready for the final step. They get sprayed with an acrylic finish. I’m using Breathing Color‘s Glamour 2 glicee matte finish.
And that’s it! They dry quickly (in about an hour) with a nice matte finish that helps protect your print from fading and damage.
So far, I’ve done prints as large as 36×36″. You really have to be on your game. Definitely have an extra pair of hands on deck.