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DIY Wood Photography Boards

DIY wooden photography boards are a great weekend project

I’m sure you’ve seen these all over the place. The first time I saw them, I wanted to jump in my car and buy all the materials to make it. Problem: I was still in my apartment and I had no space for them. I barely had space for my props as it was so there was no way I could have the space to make these or store them (even though they were flat, but still, I didn’t want to accumulate more).

I vowed to myself as soon as we moved to a house, this was one of the first projects I was going to tackle.

Of all the posts that I’ve seen, I decided to take the method of Lindsay & Gina’s. I loved Gina’s idea of using tongue and groove boards and I loved how Lindsay did the distressed look on the wood boards. What’s great about these is that everyone’s turns out different and everyone’s is unique in their own way.

So first, go to your local hardware store and pick up some tongue and groove planks. I followed Gina’s steps by getting a 8′ one and having them cut them into two 2 1/2′ sections and one 3′ section. I bought three 8′ planks so that gave me a total of three photography boards in the end. I put three 2 1/2′ sections together for two different boards and three 3′ sections together to give me one larger board.

I bought sandpaper to sand down the ends of where the planks were cut. There were some pretty nasty shards of wood that I didn’t want to risk getting splinters over. So just grab some sandpaper and sand the ends until they’re smooth. Grab some wood glue and in the groove, make a nice, thin line of glue and then insert the tongue into the groove and press hard together. If some ooze out, quickly wipe it away with a paper towel. Repeat with the second piece until you have three wood sections melded together and repeat on the other two boards. I let them dry overnight.

After they have dried overnight, you can begin the painting process. I went to my hardware store and picked out three sample paints. I knew I needed a base brown so I picked that up along with a plain white and a bright teal. Colors are so hard to choose! I have a feeling I’ll be making more. I want a purple and a grey one (haha, surprise surprise, my wedding colors).

As Lindsay describes in her tutorial, you’ll want to dilute the brown paint with water, about 50/50 (as you see in the picture above, although you can’t really tell there’s water in that container). Have loads of paper towels on standby as you begin the “staining” process. Dip your paintbrush in the diluted brown and brush it all the way down one plank, then immediately take a paper towel and wipe it off. It’ll give you the stained look. As you see in the above picture, the one on the left is prior to wiping off with a paper towel. Continue this process until your boards are done. Lay out to dry for 20-30 minutes. They dry fairly fast because it’s a very thin coat of paint.

Once your base layer has dried, dip the tip of your brush in the colored paint (not diluted) and VERY, every so lightly, brush your board with quick strokes up and down. This step was the step I had the most trouble with because I didn’t know what type of pressure to use when brushing the boards. Basically, you want to be a light as possible. I learned the hard way that it’s easier to add on than to take off. So start extremely light and keep adding if necessary. My teal board was a lot easier to paint as I knew the pressure and the strokes to take. You can dab a little paint at a time on certain parts of the board and then take your brush and quickly run it through with lots of strokes. I tried that but I think I dabbed too hard on some areas so some areas came out darker than the others. After some quick trial and error, my discovered my method was to dip the very tip of the brush in the colored paint, press it against a paper towel, then with fast brushing/stroking motion up and down, run the paint brush on the board. It gave you a light wispy paint coat & I just continued to add to it until I achieved the desired paint level. Experiment and find your method! To achieve the distressed look is to be light and wispy with the paint brush. You want the brown to show through. You don’t want to cover it heavily in the colored paint. You might as well just paint boards then :)

I actually fell in love with the dark brown stained look so I decided to make that my third color. That was the easiest to do as all you had to do was paint on the diluted brown and wipe it off with a paper towel.

I hope this tutorial has helped you :) feel free to ask me any questions!


Wednesday 7th of January 2015

I think I'm going to do a grey board!!


Tuesday 25th of November 2014

Does the woodglue provide enough support? I bought materials today after looking at an other tutorial, and they left out the glue part. The boards seem kind of flimsy- did the glue hold it all into one piece well enough atleast for some good food styling? Thanks for sharing!


Wednesday 26th of November 2014

Yup, it provides support. Totally depends on what kind of wood you bought. Mine was pretty thick so it wasn't flimsy.


Monday 30th of June 2014

great and amazing tips..thanks for sharing !!


Thursday 21st of June 2012

I have been wanting to make some boards too! I think you just inspired me to tackle this project!!! I love the blue board, but I think the white is my favorite too. I have been using some extra pieces of bead board paneling for a backdrop:-)

Gerry @ Foodness Gracious

Friday 15th of June 2012

These look great and a fantastic idea! I really need to get some more props, the other day I took the door of my daughters play house so I could take my pictures using the back of it...yeah I know just another crazy thing we do as bloggers right? ;) Thanks.