After moving into our new digs, back in October and starting to set up our “War Room” we decided we wanted a mobile dry erase board. We wanted something that allowed us to partition the entrance to the War Room off if we needed privacy while working on projects, as well as something we could move and use anywhere in the office. Luckily, we already had a large dry erase board that used to hang in our old office with just the right dimensions for what we wanted to do. All we needed to do was build a stand. This is how we did it.
- 1 × 96” x 48” Framed Dry Erase board
- 4 x Swivel Casters (2 locking, 2 non-locking)
- 4 × 3/4” Galvanized Floor Flange
- 4 × 3” 3/4” pipe
- 6 × 90 degree 3/4” pipe elbow
- 4 × 12” 3/4” pipe
- 2 × 3/4” Black Tee
- 2 × 1” Pipe Tee with a 3/4” connector
- 2 × 3/4” pipe (H) (measure to determine the height of the stand ours is 67.5”)
- 2 × 3/4” pipe (W) (measure the width of the dry erase board ours is 94”)
- 9 × 3/4” clips
- 9 × 3/4” Wood screw
- 8 × 6mm bolts
- 8 × 6mm lock nuts
Tools you’ll need
- 1 x Measuring tape
- 1 x Level
- 1 x Phillips Screwdriver
- 1 × 6mm Wrench
- 2 x Pipe-Pliars
- 2 x Small Acid brushes (disposable)
Purchasing the Parts
To eliminate multiple trips to the store you’ll want to make sure all parts fit together in the store. In this case the casters are the trickiest part to get correct. The easiest way to determine what will work is to start with a flange and take it to the casters section of the store. You’ll want to locate the caster with the mounting holes in its frame that line up exactly with the holes in the flange. At the very least you want two of the opposing holes in both the flange and the frame of the caster to line up so you can get at least two bolts to hold the caster in place. Get two locking casters so the stand can be locked in place when you don’t need to move it.
Once you’ve found the flange/caster combination that will work, take that to the bolt and nut section of the store. In addition to making sure you’re getting a bolt with a head that will work with the holes in the flange, you need to make sure it isn’t too long as this will prevent the caster from rotating freely. Once you’ve found the right bolt, use it to make sure you get a locking-nut that will work with it. You want to use locking-nuts on all the bolts as this will prevent them from getting unscrewed during use.
The Pipes and the Brackets
The second tricky part is to get the pipes in the exact lengths for the frame of the stand. In our case the precut pipe section of the store didn’t have the pipes with exact dimensions that would work with the dry erase board we already had, so we asked a store associate to cut and thread them for us. It’s surprising how easy the whole process actually was — just make sure your hardware store can do this for you before going out (we used Home Depot). The hardest part is actually getting the dimensions of the frame correctly. The height is determined by how high you want your board to be off the ground and the width by the width of the board. When measuring the width of the board you don’t want to measure from the edge of one side of the board to the edge of the other side as this won’t give you any room for the mounting brackets to be attached to the board. Measure from the half way point of the frame from one side to the half way point of the frame on the other side of the board. This should give you enough room to mount the brackets that will hold the board to the stand.
Which brings me to the last piece of the puzzle that made us drive to the store for a second time, the mounting brackets. At first we got the metal U shaped brackets with mounting holes on either sides that would allow us to fasten them to the back of the frame of the board, however we didn’t realize that the frame of the dry erase board wasn’t wide enough to accommodate this type of bracket. There wasn’t enough room for both wood screws to be fastened to the frame. We ended up solving this problem by getting plastic brackets that would allow us to fasten them to the frame of the board with a single screw and that would snap on to the pipes once everything was assembled.
While getting everything at the store make sure to also buy two or three small brushes to have something to apply the Epoxy on the pipe threads with. These brushes will become unusable as the epoxy will harden after you’ve used them so get something disposable. The Epoxy will give the stand additional stability and will make sure that nothing comes lose over time.
Once we had all the parts back at the office ready for assembly we started out by laying them out on the floor in the order that they’ll be put together. We also grabbed a piece of old news paper and got it ready by the assembly area, it was used to mix the resin and the hardener. You’ll want to apply the Epoxy on the threads of the pipes as the last step in the assembly process. First connect all the parts and make sure everything fits together properly, then go back and apply the Epoxy to lock everything into place.
If you prepped properly and have all the parts and tools ready to go the actual assembly is the easiest part of the whole process and should take absolutely no time at all. First you’ll assemble the base of the frame. Bolt the four casters to the flanges using the eight bolts and lock nuts. Screw the 3” long pipes to the top of the flanges and connect them to the 90 degree elbow. Once you have the elbows connected it’s time to create each side of the base. Take an assembled piece with a locking caster and one with a non-locking caster and connect them with two 12” pipes and one T-connector to a side. Ensure that both casters are at a right angle and pointing in the exact same direction before locking everything into place with some Epoxy.
Now we need to create the crossbar that we’ll use to stabilize the bottom of the frame. Take one of the pipes that was cut for the width of the dry erase board and connect the two 1” T-connectors to each end. Make sure the connectors are tightened and locked into place at the exact same angle as you’ll need the frame to line up perfectly and fit through the 1” holes in the T-Connector. The reason we have these two T-connectors for the bottom cross bar is because it’s impossible to tighten a square built out of threaded pipe since all of the sides of a pipe tighten by twisting the pipe to the right. Unless you can make a thread on one of the sides of a pipe that goes in the opposite direction so that you can tighten both ends by twisting the pipe to the right, you’ll need the T-connectors mentioned above to create the stabilizer on the bottom.
You’ll want to assemble the frame by starting with one side of the base and working your way over to the other. Take one of the 67.5” long pipes and connect it to one of the assembled base sides then slip one end of the stabilizer crossbar over it before connecting a 90 degree elbow to the other end. Take the pipe that’s going to be the top of the frame and connect it to that elbow. Now grab the other 67.5” long pipe and start by slipping it through the other side of the stabilizer crossbar and connecting it to the top of the frame with the last elbow. Now connect the other side of the base to the other end of that last pipe. At this point it is crucial that you use the level and the measuring tape to make sure that you have right angles everywhere on the frame and that the two base pieces are parallel to each other before using the epoxy to lock everything into place.
As the last step take the board and screw the clip connectors to the back of its frame. I’d suggest using 9 to 12 connectors spaced out equally. You only need the clips on the sides and the top of the board. The bottom won’t need any as you don’t want the board to be holding the stabilizer bar up high in the air. The board clipped to the two sides and the top of the frame as well as the stabilizer bar sitting on the very bottom of the frame will give everything plenty of stability.
I hope you have as much fun building one of these as we did. It feels awesome using tools that we created with our own hands and this was an exceptionally fun tool to build. If you do end up building something similar we’d love to see some pictures of the project.
I want to share a tool I use to take notes on products related to my projects. I had some really long names for it, but let’s call it “The Researcher” for short. The Researcher is useful for analyzing the competition and documenting the best practices of products you admire and want to take cues from.
Here it is:
Part of the process of exploring new ideas is asking, “Does this already exist? What else is out there?” In our world of apps, websites and web services, the number and variety of similar-but-just-not-quite-it ideas can be staggering. Plain legal pads, while awesome, weren’t making it easy to go back and tickle the noggin with my notes. I napkin-sketched out The Researcher and bounced it to Amanda for some design goodness.
Like many of the tools I’ve put together for BitMethod, The Researcher is designed for speed. Have an idea? Grab a sheet and document everything. When you write things down you don’t have to look them up again. Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how much time you waste by simply not documenting things.
Here’s a guide to the top half of the sheet:
- Project: name of YOUR project
- Subject: who or what you’re analyzing
- Relation: the how or why of subject’s relation to your project
- Status: Is it active and steady? Old and abandoned? Hot and growing?
- Platforms: website? mobile site? Facebook app? PS3 game? Hardcover book?
- Percentage of polish: a gut-check assessment of how professional and polished you think the product is.
- Circle: roll your own pie chart. There’s a little room on the right to describe the slices and a dot to help anchor your drawing.
- Competition: Well, are they?
- Successful: Well, are they?
Hopefully the rest of the entries are self-explanatory. It was intentionally kept to one page so that you don’t agonize over it.
If you try it out, please let me know what you think! We’re always revising and updating the tools in our toolbox.