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The easy gift with a million uses

Two clipboards decorated with Mod Podge and patterned papers.

Our family spends a lot of time in the car, or in our case, the minivan. Driving to activities, many, many road trips, carpool line, errand running, you know, the usual - especially if you have kids. And now that school is back in session, we have some homework that needs to get done. A fun clipboard is the best way I have found to get stuff done while traveling to and from all the things. It helps us make the most of our time. Plus, it's great for traveling because kids can pull it out and have a “lap desk” that stores easily. And it can also be used at home for coloring or drawing on the couch or in bed, in a fort, or whereever they love to hang out. These things are super useful and very versatile.

Teachers love these too because they have no shortage of papers that need organizing and you can personalize the clipboard with their favorite color and/or name. Need a good gift for a coach? These are great for them too because they are holding all those papers with plays or rosters while pacing the sidelines or field.

These clipboards are incredibly durable and will last for years. I still have some kicking around from my older kids that are STILL being used 15 or so years later because they still look new.

This is a very easy project but leave yourself time to complete it because you need to wait 15 to 20 minutes for dry time between layers of Mod Podge.

Video tutorial:


Two brown wooden clipboards and two hands.


  • paper plate for the Mod Podge

  • damp paper towel for the foam brush

  • ribbons to add as decoration

To add a name or title:


Let's get started:

Hands holding a cardstock template to use when decorating two different styles of clipboards.

Print out the clipboard templates on card stock and cut out the template you want to use.

Hands using a Cricut TrueControl Knife to trim a card stock template on a wooden clipboard.

Test out the fit on your clipboard and, if necessary, trim any areas near the clamp with a craft knife.

Pick your papers and decide how you want them to go on. I like to use three coordinating papers just for fun.

Hands tracing a template onto the back of patterned paper.

Flip the piece of paper you want to use at the top of the clipboard over so the back is facing you. Flip the template over so you are looking at the back. Line the template up at the top and side of you paper and use a pen or pencil to trace it onto the back of the paper.

Just know that I think it's actually easier if the paper is a bit wider than the clipboard so that is the way the template is sized. In a future step we will make sure everything is perfectly sized.

Hands measuring the black space on the front of a wooden clipboard.

Test out the fit on the clipboard and measure the remaining space.

Cut your other papers so they all fit together and cover the entire front of the clipboard. Each of my sections was 9 ½ inches wide by 4 ¼ inches long.

Hands using a foam brush to apply Mod Podge to a wooden clipboard.

Using your foam brush, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to the top third of your clipboard, lay your top paper on and quickly shift it around so it fits.

Press down all over the paper so it all adheres to the clipboard.

Repeat with the other two sections of paper so the entire front of the clipboard is covered. Make sure the papers are just barely touching each other.

In between sections and going forward, when you are in between layers of Mod Podge, wrap the foam brush in a damp paper towel so the Mod Podge doesn't dry.

Hands using a foam brush to apply Mod Podge under a piece of patterned paper to adhere it to a wooden clipboard.

If any of the corners or edges lift up, apply a little Mod Podge and press down again.

Hands using a Cricut scraper to smooth patterned paper onto a wooden clipboard.

Use a scraper to GENTLY smooth out any bubbles.

Hands holding a wooden clipboard decorated with patterned paper and a name cut from patterned paper.

Repeat the process for the back of the clipboard.

When I make these for teachers and coaches I put their name on the back side. This way if they are carrying it around in a classroom, on a court, or field, people can read their name on the bottom while they are using it. If I want to put a name or title on the front (the part where the papers will be clipped), I put it in an upper corner because that area typically is not used for writing. Putting it anywhere else on the front creates ridges from the letters that will make it more difficult to use.

If you decide to add a name, this is the time. I cut the teacher’s name out of coordinating paper with my Cricut and used scrapbooking glue to attach it to the back of the clipboard. I made another for a child and used vinyl and transfer tape for the name.

Wait 15-20 minutes for the Mod Podge and scrapbooking glue to dry.

Hands using a Cricut TrueControl Knife to trim excess patterned paper from a decorated wooden clipboard.

Use a Cricut TrueControl Knife or a craft knife and a cutting mat to cut the excess paper from the sides, top and bottom. It still doesn’t have to be perfect. I just like to cut off the bulk of the extra paper.

Hands using a Cricut TrueControl Knife to trim excess paper from the clamp of a decorated wooden clipboard.

You can also use a craft knife to trim any extra paper near the clamp.

Hands using a sanding block to sand excess paper from a decorated wooden clipboard.

This next bit is my favorite part because it is ridiculously satisfying. We are going to make sure the edges are perfect.

Using the sanding block or emery board, sand all of the edges so any extra paper is sanded off leaving you with perfect, crisp edges. Use a front to back motion only. If you sand from the back to the front you will lift the edges of the paper up. If any lifting does occur, just use some more Mod Podge to re-stick that area.

Hands using a foam brush to apply Mod Podge to the top of a wooden clipboard decorated with patterned paper.

Next apply a THIN layer of Mod Podge over the entire front including the sides.

Some areas may have small bubbles. It’s hard, but just leave these. If you are applying thin layers, after leaving it overnight to fully dry the bubbles will have flattened out and disappeared like magic. Trust the process.

Repeat the Mod Podge process about 2-3 more times waiting 15-20 minutes between layers. Make sure to do your brush strokes in different directions each time so you don't create ridges. And don't forget to put Mod Podge on the edges too and not leave any drips because they will dry in place.

Repeat the entire process for the back side of the clipboard.

A wooden craft organizer sitting on the clamp of a decorated wooden clipboard to hold it open.

I find the best way to keep the large clamp off the Mod Podge while it dries is to set something heavy down on top of the clamp so it lifts and will stay up. It's awkward, but effective. Just make sure the heavy object isn't touching any of the Mod Podge.

Leave the whole thing overnight to dry completely.

Hands putting blue painter's tape onto the clamp of a wooden clipboard.

Even totally dry Mod Podge can feel a bit tacky. I like to spray the whole thing with clear acrylic sealer which gives it a nice professional looking, non-tacky finish.

To do this, start by covering the clamp with some blue painter’s tape. Then, take it outside and spray on a few layers of clear acrylic spray following the instructions on the acrylic spray for dry times.

Hands using a lighter to burn the ends of ribbon to prevent fraying on a decorated clipboard.

At this point you can tie ribbons onto the clamp or not. It's fun and makes it pop, but even without ribbons the clipboards look awesome.

You are going to find a million people to give these to, and a million ways to use them to make your own life easier!

Happy crafting!

Two wooden clipboards decorated with patterned paper and Mod Podge.


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