DIY Wood Slat Map

Having a place with a lot of space is a blessing and a curse. 

It’s a blessing because all of a sudden, you have all this wall space where you can throw a bunch of junk up on the wall that you didn’t have space for when you were in a condo the size of a prison cell with three walls and a window.

It’s a curse because now you have all this wall space that you have to fill with junk, or else you  look like a no-talent bum.

With that in mind, I had a HA-UGE chunk of empty space over my bed in my bedroom that I needed to fill up, so I decided to be all crafty and construction-y, and build a huge 8 foot by 4 foot art piece.  It’s basically a bunch of wood nailed together with a map painted on the front.  TA-DA!  I have no idea where I came up with this idea… other than it’s pretty much mashed together from things you would find at StyleGarage.  Slatted wood?  Check.  Industrial-rotted-wood-feel?  Check.  Canadiana-related something?  Check.  Map?  Check.

I claim the mashing-together of these ideas as my own, as reflected in my washed-out, super-arty, slatty-slat map. 


Do you love it?

Would YOU like your very own “industrial-cum-arty” wood slat map?  WELL GET YER SLATTIN’ PANTS ON, because I’m going to tell you how I did it.

Step One: Buy some shizz.

Here is what I bought for my slat-map:

  1. 20 pieces of 1″ x 2″ x 8′ millstead framing lumber.  Why millstead?  Because it’s fuckin’ dirt cheap.  Plus, it’s all old pieces of wood pasted together, which adds to the “industrial-rotted-wood” feel.
  2. 2 pieces of 1″ x 6″ x 5′ cedar fencing lumber.  Why cedar fencing lumber?  Because that was the first piece of wood I found with those dimensions and I’m lazy.
  3. Wood stain.  I chose Minwax red oak or something like that.
  4. A bunch of framing nails. 
  5. A bunch of different colours of acrylic paint
  6. LOW-GLOSS (i.e. satin finish) polyurethane
  7. Make sure you have some tools, you no-talent bum.  I needed a hammer, some rags for staining, white chalk, a saw, a spacing tool, and paintbrushes.

 Step Two: Set the Mood.

An essential part of constructing a slat-map is bein’ all sexified and in-the-mood to get your slattin’ creative juices flowing.  Make up an unnecessarily girly martini, and put on some Fleetwood Mac.


Step Three: Stain Your Wood.

Here is my sexy millstead.  At 99 cents a pop, I didn’t have high expectations, but still, they are looking pretty sad.

I had to put down a tarp and rub on the red oak stain.  Be warned.  That shit stinks like chemical barf.  I’m pretty sure I lost 10% of my brain breathing that stuff in for two hours.  You have to rub on the stain, wait 5 minutes, then rub off the excess.  The stain really does bring out the imperfections and knots in the wood, which is exactly what I wanted.  Here are my slats, looking a bit more slat-map appropriate:

You have to let that shizz dry overnight.  Also, you should make sure that you wash your hands right away, or else you will look like you have been mud-wrestling in tanker-oil.

Step Four: Nail Your Slats.

Ok.  So here is where things got a little messy.  Remember how I said I got 20 pieces of 1″ x 2″ x 8′ millsteed?  As any other logical person, I make the wild assumption that my slats of wood would be 2 inches wide by 1 inch deep by 8 feet long, right?

Here is my “slat-map art director”, Tami, measuring the handle of my hammer.  We started thinking we were crazy when we realized the size of my slat.

SURPRISE!  1″ x 2″ x 8″ actually means 1 1/2 inches wide, 3/4 of an inch deep and 8 feet  long.  HA HA HA.  Oh Home Depot, you kill me with your “hilarious surprise measurements.”

Since I had PAINSTAKINGLY measured out my project under the assumption that the measurements provided on the price tag of my wood were correct, I had to make some last minute adjustments.  Originally, I was planning to have 2″ slats separated by 1″ of space, culminating in a huge 8′ by 5′ art-monster.

I had to adjust to 1 1/2″ slats with 1″ of space, culminating in a much less impressive 8′ by 4′ art-monster.


Molly is unimpressed with the size of my slat.

I used my level as a 1″ spacer… she worked like a dream.


After nailing down four slats with my spacer, I was already very excited about the pending finished product, and Tami caught me slappin’ my wrists all gansta-like, saying “THIS SHIT ALREADY LOOKS SO GOOOOOOOD!”

Please excuse my outfit here… I am basically wearing pajamas. Fat-person pajamas.

OH YEAH, the other mess here was that I bought 1 3/4″ nails, under the assumption that my two pieces of “one inch deep” wood would be appropriately nailed together with a 1 3/4″ nail.

Since both pieces of wood were actually 3/4″ thick (oh Home Depot, you CRAAZY), the nails I bought were too long, and would basically stick out the back and chew up the back of my wall when I hung it up.  So Tami and I took a trip to Dollarama and  “Budget One Stop” in Parkdale, which were the only places open on Sunday. 

Some things you don’t realize you need until you see them.  And put them on your head.

We soon discovered that “Budget One Stop” is a magical fairy-land.  It is jam-packed with everyting your heart could desire.  Including 1 1/4 inch nails.  Hallelujah.


Step Five: Draw the Map.

I’m a big fan of painting things with a grid.  It has worked for me in the past (kinda), and I applied the same “replicating things in a box” skills to my slat map.  First you have to find a map and scale it to the appropriate dimensions of your slats.

I used some pic off Google Images and just applied the same ratio of 1 1/2 to 1 for the lateral slats, then split it into equal 8ths.  Then I drew a grid on my slats using white chalk, and numbered the slats to make sure I was on the right track.  The chalk makes things really easy to correct if you make a mistake.


Can you see the coastline of British Columbia starting to take shape?  There’s Victoria!  BLAP BLAP!  You basically just follow the squiggles on the coast and province borders of your scaled map.  No one will really know if you screw up a little bit, unless they’re a huge geography nerd.  And if they are a huge geography nerd, why are they your friend?

I “x’ed” out the areas that needed to be painted… when you have a lot of squiggles, they all start to run together.


Step Six: Paint the Map.

Now it’s time to paint!  I am cheap, so I decided to use the same paints that I used in a previous art project.  I even threw in some leftover white house paint due to my extreme cheapness.  It worked like a charm to soften up those darker colours.

I wanted the map to look a bit weathered and worn-out, so I watered the acrylics down with  so that the grain of the wood would show through.

I wanted it to look like an old classroom map, which typically use more pastel-y colours.  Even though I’m really happy with the way the colouring turned out, I STRONGLY recommend planning out your map-colour-scheme beforehand, instead of randomly and haphazardly just throwing one colour on after another, like I did.  I am a rebel when it comes to paint-colour selection, and not everyone has the natural “paint-colour-selector-gene” like I do.*

*I totally screwed up some of the colours and had to correct them last minute and I’m an idiot and I totally should have planned out my colours.

The last part of painting the map is the outline.  I chose a white-grey outline, and very, very, very carefully went over my chalk outlines with a detail brush.  This is when I really started getting excited, because it started looking really good.

Lastly, I traced out the “CANADA” outline on the far right of the map.  I wanted it to look as close to a real map as possible, so I needed that word on there somewhere.  PLUS for those of you who do not live in Canada, it helps you know what country you are looking at.

Step Seven: Finishing Touches

The very last thing you need to do, after the paint is dry, is lightly, lightly sand over the paint with a coarse-grit sandpaper.  This will add to its “StyleGarage-Industrial-Je-Ne-Sais-Quoi”, and the wood will shine through a lot better.

Basically, it will look like a faded-out map.

Now, pop out that LOW GLOSS, water-based polyeurathane and slap that shit ON.  Two coats.  The low gloss (i.e. satin finish) is really important, because if it shines too much you won’t be able to see the faded-out map.

She’s done!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now you just need to hang her up in a place of reverence in the house.  It’s important that you make sure you hang it on some studs, because that fucker weighs about 100 pounds.  I moved my bed to the other side of the room last night juuuuuust in case I accidentally missed the stud and it came crashing down off the wall onto my soft melon-like head. 


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  1. dang. I am really lucky to know you, you’re crafty, lovely, smart, funny and drop dead. I am signing off with a crush on you.

  2. Yeah, this is OK I guess!

    (slash, I co-sign with El Sharpe above.)

  3. Well done, sexified slatter. Liking the look of this.

  4. This is so cool!

  5. […] be honest – I was pretty proud of myself for thinking-of-slash-building my slatty art-piece a few weeks ago… but I’m usually pretty proud of myself, so it’s hard to determine whether, […]

  6. What method did you use to hang this?

  7. Hey Jessi,

    I wrapped high-grade wire around those two vertical wood struts in the back to make a wire hanger-thing, and simply found a couple of studs in the wall – put some hooks in those studs and hung it up. I admit I pulled my bed out from the wall the first couple of nights in case it tumbled onto my head and crushed it, but it’s been a few months and it’s still firmly attached to the wall.

  8. great, thanks!

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