Arkansas Wall Hanging
With the holiday season fast approaching, some AY About You readers may still be searching for that perfect gift for a special friend or relative. Something they can’t find in stores or order online — and ideally with a personal touch. Here’s an idea: an Arkansas wall hanging made by you.
This project will only take a couple of hours or so of your time; it calls for minimal materials and requires tools you (or a neighbor) probably already have. And you’ll produce a work that’ll make both you and your lucky recipient proud.
First, acquire an official Arkansas State Highway Map. You can pick one up at any of the Arkansas Welcome Centers along the state’s borders and at many local chambers of commerce. Or a free copy can be ordered at this address: Arkansas Department of Transportation; Map Requests; P.O. Box 2261; Little Rock, AR 72203. Also, you can request a map from the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism by calling (501) 682-7777. (And you might ask for a complimentary vacation planning guide while you’re at it).
Once you get the map, carefully cut away everything beyond the state’s outline, but don’t try to follow all the ins and outs of the Mississippi River along Arkansas’ eastern edge or the bends of the Red River in extreme southwestern Arkansas. A rough approximation of the rivers’ courses will do just fine — and is actually preferred. Attempting to convert all those meandering twists and turns onto a wooden surface would be a nightmare.
Now, for the boards. Weathered siding from old barns or sheds is an excellent material, but please feel free to be creative. I’ve seen attractive versions produced using boards from castoff wooden pallets. The example you see here was made from discarded pine decking. I personally favor a distressed look, but you might want to use new lumber and paint or stain your work to complement a certain décor. Plywood just doesn’t seem to have the character of real lumber.
Your cut-out Arkansas map will be roughly 22 inches wide and 19 inches tall — which means you’ll need to find boards to accommodate a rectangle of that size. (The boards shown in these photos were each 24 inches in length to give me a bit of wiggle room.)
Next, position your boards with the best side facing down and then place your cut-out Arkansas map upside down across the boards (see photo). By the way, I’m not sure why, but a horizontal arrangement of the boards seems to yield a better result.
Next, use a marking pen to carefully trace the state’s outline onto your boards.
I used a circular saw to cut the straight lines and a jigsaw to deal with the crooked stretches. Don’t forget to protect eyes, ears and fingers while making your cuts.
A few minutes spent sanding the rough edges will give it a more finished look (and removes those pesky splinters).
Once all the sawing was done, I again arranged the boards upside down, paying close attention to make sure everything was properly aligned. I then placed two short lengths of molding (also called trim) across the back of the boards and used wood screws to fasten them in place.
With the exception of screws, all my materials were scrap. I bought 14 wood screws for 13 cents apiece, or $1.98 with tax. Not a bad deal by any means!