decorating,  DIY

Sheet Metal Map

I’m not sure if it’s all boys or my son in particular, but my 5-year-old doesn’t give a rip about decorating. Now, if I put something new in his room – it doesn’t matter what it is – he’s stoked about the shiny thing for all of 3.2 seconds. Then he’ll move on to the important matters of a kindergartener – whatever those are.

In all reality, I’m decorating his room for me. The blank walls in his room gave my wandering mind something to focus on while I read LEGO City: Fire in the Forest! for the 217th time in a row. It’s a fascinating read.

I wanted a huge piece of functional art for his room, but I was dragging my feet on the project. I thought it might end up being expensive to create a large piece of artwork.

On one of my expeditions to Hobby Lobby, I stumbled upon a 3-ft x 4-ft framed bulletin board. When I say stumbled, I mean the heavens opened and a glorious light shone down on the aisle pointing me to this particular 50% off bulletin board. There is no way I would have paid $80 for it, but $40 was a lot more palatable to my tight-fisted self. Of course, I still had to think about it for a few days, but when I was ready to commit, it was still on sale. Hallelujah.

I had the frame. Now how could I transform it into functional art? Well, I could create a map of the good ol’ USA. I could and I should so I did.

I just so happened to have a map I’d bought for a few bucks way too long ago hanging out on my desk. It really needed to be put to good use. By “put to good use,” I mean cut up and used as a guide.

The real shining star of this project, however, was a piece of sheet metal I found on our property. It was sitting on top of a pallet where we think someone used to stack firewood. If you don’t have this super fancy arrangement at your house, you can buy sheets of sheet metal at your local home improvement store.

I cut the paper map out and then traced the outline onto the sheet metal with a sharpie. As you can see, this piece of metal had been dented and dinged. It was dirty and I loved it!

The hitch in the giddy-up was how to cut it out? Some of those East Coast states and their itty-bitty jagged outlines were going to be problematic. My husband said forget about it.

His optimism gives me the warm fuzzies.

“We” decided to use the Dremel to cut the map out. I’m still unsure if “we” used the most appropriate attachment to do the cutting and preserve the map’s detail, but there’s no backseat driving when it comes to power tools.


You know how this is going to end, right? Kind of like MacGyver, we made due with the resources we had on hand. We used the rotary attachment that came with the Dremel, as Handy Husband thought the Dremel Multipurpose Cutting Bit, which we also have, would make the cut line jagged, not smooth.

Anyway, this is an interpretive map. Especially since I really buggered Louisiana. That was totally my fault.

It did take about 30 minutes to semi-carefully cut the outline out.

Now was not the time to be extra fussy about perfection. You learn these things in marriage. Instead, I did my happy dance and called it exactly right. And it was, more or less.

My 5-year-old assistant and I cleaned up the sheet metal map with a Magic Eraser and then we glued the map to the bulletin board.

I needed a glue that was super strong and would adhere two abnormal surfaces together: cork and metal.

It was a happy accident that I landed on this Elmer’s ProBond Advanced Glue. I got mine at Hobby Lobby, but I think it’s cheaper (less than $5) on Amazon. It’s hard to tell here, but all of the heavy books and crocks were recruited to “clamp” the sheet metal map to the cork board while the glue dried.

It’s been over a month now and I’m happy to report the map has not fallen off! I think it’s there to stay. Thank goodness.

While I did go ahead and hang the map on the wall, this project isn’t actually done yet. I still need to decide if I’m going to paint the frame. I’m leaning toward an orange or blue color to match the accent colors in his room. My only hesitation about going the orange route is that I don’t want to pull out the orange tones in the dresser. Yes, his dresser is actually a buffet, but it is working for now. No, I don’t want to paint the buffet yet because it has sentimental value and a super cool story. I’ll tell you about it sometime.

I also need to come up with some sort of cool magnets my son can use to pinpoint the states he’s visited. I think he’s already been to 9 states in his short time on this earth.

Last, but not least, I’m also on the hunt for a world globe for his dresser and probably a different lamp. That one doesn’t usually reside there.

Slowly, but surely, we are making progress in my son’s room. I’m happy about that and I do love, love, love the sheet metal map! Who knows what I’ll come up with during the 218th reading of that Lego book?

We love maps around these parts! Here are some other map ideas.

Leather Map from Old Boots

Tourist Maps Make the Best Wrapping Paper

State Appliquéd Dish Towels

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