A few nights ago we were at Home Depot searching for a new screen for our patio door, and I stumbled on a stack of acrylic (also known as plexi-glass). I about lost it right there in the middle of the store. I looooooovie me some acrylic! In fact, everything from drawer organizers to under-the-sink organizers to our new island stools... I just can't seem to get enough of it! Why you may be wondering? Aside from the fact that acyclic cleans well and is extremely durable, I also think acrylic organizers and decor are timeless and very chic feeling.
Not all acrylic is created equal, it comes in a variety of thicknesses, sizes and prices. Because I had a few ideas in mind, I picked up a single 18"x24" sheet of .220 thick acrylic (this stuff is thick and beautiful!) Home Depot did have another option that may have also worked, it was about half the price and also about half of the thickness, but it just didn't seem to have the same luster and I wasn't sure how easy it would be to work with.
As far as what I wanted to make? I had a few ideas but ultimately started out with a clipboard and had plenty left over to also make a pencil cup. And even some more left over that may end up in another project some day.
The clipboard was my "wish list" item. I love clipboards in general and keep them stashed in my cars, pantry, file cabinet... They are endlessly handy. There are a few acrylic options that I have been lusting after, but they always just seemed a little silly expensive for a single office supply.
But part of the appeal is the heavier weighted "glass" appearance and the clean look (no rulers/numbers etched in the side). And don't get me started on the hardware! The thing with these is that they are too lovely to tuck away. These stunners deserve to sit on your desk and be used daily. Or they can be hung on your walls to display important notes, a calendar and even art. And don't forget, acrylic is also a prime surface to use with dry-erase markers.
Because I purchased a sheet of acrylic large enough, I could either make two clipboards or a clipboard and something else. I started with the clipboard first and decided to go from there. I also decided that it would be fun to try two different cutting methods for the two projects, so I could share with y'all which worked better.
For the clipboard, I opted to try out a plastic cutting knife.
The first step is to clamp the acrylic directly to a straight edge, a scrap piece of wood did the trick for me.
Once in place, I pressed firmly to score the acrylic sheet. The packaging stated to only score the acrylic to about half of the depth of the plastic, which took quite a few passes of the knife.
I left the protective plastic coating on the acrylic while I worked with it just to be sure I wasn't scratching the sheet from the friction.
Once it was scored to half of the depth of the acrylic, I placed the scored portion just off of the edge of our counter and snapped the acrylic down. This process created a beautifully clean edge.
I peeled away the plastic and admired my smaller piece.
The edges can be a little sharp, and the corners can be really sharp, so I turned to our Dremel tool with an attached buffing pad.
Very lightly applying pressure to the edge of the acrylic, the buffing pad polished everything up and quickly rounded the edges.
For the hardware, I found two clipboard clips at a craft store for $3. You can also find a few different options on Amazon.
I took the acrylic and clipboard piece to the local hardware store to find appropriately sized screws and acorn caps (our local store charges per piece so you don't have to purchase entire packages).
I used a standard size piece of paper to determine the location of the clip placement. Bryan recommended to pre-drill with a small bit first, and drilling in just enough to create a starting point.
Then the proper sized bit for the hardware selected.
And lastly a countersink bit to allow the screw heads to lay flush on the back side of the clipboard.
The hardware and clip received a coat of gold spray paint...
I also added a thin layer of Gold Leafing with a pen and paintbrush. This gave the clip a more aged appearance.
Once the paint was dry, I attached the clip with the acorn caps. The end result was just fabulous!!
Project one, done! There was still plenty of acrylic for more, so next up was the pencil cup. For this project, we decided to save some time with the cuts and ran the acrylic though our BladeRunner (which utilized a fine wood blade).
The cuts were smooth, straight and clean, but slightly rougher looking than the score and snap method.
The next interesting fact is that acrylic needs to be glued utilizing a special bonding process. Standard glues and adhesives don't absorb into the super sleek and smooth material, which causes the pieces to slide around and never fully cure. There is a very special acrylic cement that is typically used, but it was really expensive online and I didn't see it sold at our home improvement store. So, I decided to try something that acted in a similar fashion; Loctite Plastics Bonder.
You start by running the activator over each edge of the acrylic being glued.
Let it sit for 60 seconds, and then apply a small amount of the glue on one of the pieces being glued. I always picked the rougher, cut edge to apply the glue.
I made sure the top of the pencil cup was only factory edges of the acrylic, since that is the most visible portion of the project.
Each side of the cup is 3" wide and 4" tall. I then placed the sides on a single square bottom piece.
The glue dried clear, and within a few minutes I had myself my very own acrylic pencil cup. That I made. So sweet!
And now I am motivated to go and organize my desk, because now I have two gorgeous new office supplies made out of my favorite material. Made by me!
In the end, I spent about as much as a single high-end clipboard would have cost, but I was able to gain two different supplies that I like even more than the original inspiration. (Update: Even better yet, I still had enough acrylic from the single sheet to make one more clipboard, so I did!) Most importantly, I tried something new, worked with a material I hadn't worked with before and had fun doing it.
Have you stepped outside your comfort zone to play with a new product, tool or material lately?