DIY Exposed Wood Map

Alright so today I'm going to show you all how I made my exposed wood map that I have received so many emails and comments about, finally here it is!

There's going to be a lot of pictures, and you'll have to let me off the hook on these iPhone pics-I usually use my nice camera but when I happened to be making this my Cannon was sleeping :)

First thing's first-get a piece of wood the size that you want your final piece to be. You can certainly get craft board the size in one full piece that you want (which I would recommend) but I happened to have 2 pieces that I screwed together to make the final piece I'd be working on

Also, before you begin to paint, add at least two of these heavy duty frame hangers onto the back of your wood-be sure you're painting on it the correct way after this!

Next your going to cover your surface in craft paper. The purpose of this is so you don't draw directly onto the wood while you're making mistakes and redoing lines-you don't want your wood to have pencil scuffs on it, this will make sense soon...

Does this image throw you back to 2nd grade? 
We're going to be using basic Grid-aided-Drawing for this project because it's such a large scale-and because it's a map, it's a very specific, very well-known image that you want to be accurate. 

Find a  FLAT world map (some images have the countries 'rounded' and so the land masses near the edges are warped as if they were on a globe...) you're going to draw an equally scaled grid onto that. The idea, as we all know, is to match each grid from the print out-to the artwork in front of you-working square by square will result in a WAY more accurate result than without one!

When you finish (the entire map, not shown above) go over it all again in a thick sharpie (yeah, this is a pain, and yeah I watched about 3 movies during this whole process).

Now, using a graphite pencil, or even just a piece of graphite, un-tape your craft paper and rub the graphite along the UNDERSIDE of the map using the sharpie in that's bled through to guide you.

It's going to look about like this when you're done!

Now lay it back on top of your wood and tape it securely all over the edges-you don't want it to shift at all...and now one more time trace over the outline that you've drawn-This will transfer the graphite to the wood leaving you with one clean copy of your map

this is the part of the project when you take a deep breath and say "Oh! I can finally see this coming together!"

Could you skip the whole craft paper transfer step?
Yes, you definitely could. However I would highly recommend it...Yeah, it takes a ton of extra time, and yeah, it kind of feels like a waste, but realize that you'll have to erase all of the grids off of the wood and you likely won't be able to remove it all which will result in some frustration in your finished piece. Short answer: the extra work you put into the craft paper transfer steps will be evident in the quality of your final piece.

Next, go crazy with your paint. Go outside the box and consider all sorts of colors-I chose a traditional blue mainly because I wanted a nice bright pop of color on the wall-but if you have colored walls you could do a white, off white, gray, etc. The paint and wood stain combinations really leave for an amazing amount of combinations so everyone can have something that matches their home!

After using a big brush for the majority of the map, go in close with a small detail brush.

I'd recommend three coats, two coats at the very least for coverage. This is the part where I started to get so super gitty!

Next I laid some paint tape down for some irregularly sized stripes-this step isn't necessary, but I wanted kind of a funky textured overlay (something I do on a lot of my artwork) so I thought I'd show you how I did it for the sake of it :)

Using another colored paint, and a plastic grocery bag, I very carefully blotted the surface being super careful not to paint the wood that's still exposed

You're almost done! next I ran over the entire piece with a summer oak stain. going over the entire piece aged the blue and sea-foam green I was using. 

Cover your whole piece in at least two coats of a poly finish to lock everything in..

Congratulations, you're done :) 

DIY Pallet DVD display, as shown above, click here!


  1. WOW!!!! This is amazing =)
    Great present for someone who likes to travel!

  2. I can't believe how much i love this! Looks like a lot of work but the inside-out look is so incredibly cool! And by the way I WANT YOUR LIVING ROOM it's totally gorgeous-way to make living in a small space work..looks like a magazine!! =^_^=

  3. what kind of wood did you use?

  4. Hi! I've been following your blog for awhile and love all our your niffty crafts! I stumbled upon your 'Tune into Robinson' half of the blog and read through the 'We are three' post, how cute your scarf was (and doggie too!). Could you tell me where you bought the scarf? I fell in love with it now I really would love to get it. Your outift was so adorable. You should consider having a fashion part to your blog or at least name where you got the pieces from. I'm following you on instagram and have enjoyed seeing your pictures and a glimpse of your everyday life! - Your Blogger Fan

  5. What color paint did you use with the plastic grocery bag? Was it a darker blue or more of a yellow?