Make your own message center

Thomas J. Story
Create a compact cabinet with a bulletin-board door

Conquer clutter by making a message center designed to hold lists, bills, keys, pencils, and odds and ends.

A purchased cork bulletin board forms the door to a shallow box; the size of the bulletin board determines the size of the unit. We used a 13¼- by 19¼-inch pine-framed board that cost about $8.

A frame of 1-by-2s and a short length of dowel organize the interior. There's even space for eye hooks to hold keys.

Time: About one day, not including painting and drying time

Cost: Under $40


For a cabinet that is roughly 14 by 20 inches

  • Framed bulletin board
  • 6 to 8 feet of pine 1-by-3
  • 1 12-inch finishing nails
  • ¼ sheet of 1/8-inch plywood
  • 1/2-inch wire brads
  • 2 feet of pine 1-by-2
  • 8-inch length of 3/8-inch dowel
  • Wood glue
  • Wood putty
  • Sandpaper
  • Clear sealer
  • Sheet of heavy poster board (from craft stores)
  • Two 1½-inch hinges
  • Magnetic catch
  • Door pull
  • Six eye hooks
  • Two expansion bolts (to affix to wall)


  • Saw
  • Hammer
  • Nail set
  • Carpenter square
  • Electric drill
  • Craft knife
  • Screwdriver


1. Cut and nail the 1-by-3 to build a box frame sized to match the bulletin board; cut the plywood to the same dimensions and nail it to the box frame using wire brads.

2. For the T-shaped divider, cut two lengths of 1-by-2 to the frame's interior width. To accommodate the dowel, drill a 3/8-inch-diameter hole through one piece, ½ inch from the front edge and 4 inches from the bottom end. Use this piece as a guide to drill a shallow, 3/8-inch hole into the right inside face of the frame.

3. To assemble the T-shaped divider, use the piece with the hole in it as the vertical and nail it 1 inch to the left of the midpoint of the horizontal. Slip the dowel through the vertical and into the hole in the box-frame side, then mark and cut the dowel to be flush. Glue dowel into divider; before it dries, nail divider into box frame, gluing free end of dowel into side. Fill, sand, and seal wood.

4. Cut poster board to fit. Use a craft knife to cut slots wide enough to insert backings of a notepad and calendar. Run a thick bead of glue around edge of poster board; fix in place.

5. Add hinges and catch; screw on door pull. Attach eye hooks to frame top.

More: Great ideas for clutter control

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