Part 90 - How-To: Demo Boards, Pt.1

by Lord Thomas the Black


How-To: Demo Boards, pt 1

            Welcome back to another edition of Blackmaille! Having covered such demo equipment as our tables, benches, and boxes, I somehow neglected to mention the centerpiece(s) of our demos: the demo boards.


            Demo boards are simply a display of different examples of your craft, with labels naming the different types. Think of them like a museum display, but portable for your SCA or renfest demonstrations. Demo boards are a great way to show the variations of your craft (different weaves, wire sizes, etc), and can also show off what you can do, should you wish to take commissioned projects.

            The two most important aspects of demo boards are visibility and legibility. If your visitors and patrons can’t see what you’re displaying, what good is it? And if they can’t read your labels, that’s no good, either. Both of these issues will be addressed as we walk you through the construction steps.

Tools/Materials Needed:

1 notebook
1 pen
1 X-acto knife
1 sm can wood stain
1 sm can spar urethane
4 2” sponge brushes
2 ” x 36” Balsa wood triangle rod
3 4” x 24” x ” Basswood boards
1 bottle Elmers Wood Glue


            The first step in making your demo boards is, obviously, figure out what you want to display! Since this article (and our demo) is about maille, I wanted a display of different maille weaves, to show the public what can be done with the medium. I started by listing all the weaves I wanted to display on a piece of notebook paper. The old boards we had just had the pieces displayed in the order I learned them, so I wanted something a little more accurate for the new ones. So, I divided this list into categories (historical weaves, modern weaves, and jewelry weaves), planning a separate board for each category.


            The next step was to buy my materials. The balsa triangle and basswood boards are available at most hobby stores (Hobby Lobby is where I got mine),
 and the glue is usually right there by it as well.                                                            


            All told, for wire, glue, and wood, it cost me about $20.00 for all three demo boards. The brushes, stain and spar urethane I had left over from my previous projects (the tables, benches, and box covered in previous Blackmailles), so there was no additional expense there.




            Assembling the boards is easy. The balsa wood triangle piece is longer than the boards themselves, so cut it to the length of the boards. Run a line of glue along one side of the triangle, then attach it to the board. Use small clamps or rubber bands to hold it securely in place until the glue dries. This will give your demo boards a slight tilt towards the patrons, improving visibility.


            When the glue dries, stain your boards. Choose your stain color carefully. You don’t want too bright a color, or your labels won’t stand out, but too dark a color, and some of your pieces might get lost. I went with a red oak stain, the same that I used on the box.


            After the stain has thoroughly dried, coat the boards with your spar urethane. This will weather-proof them, for outdoor demos (like renfest), and help them last longer.


            We’ll stop here for now. Next month, we’ll make our demo pieces and labels, and the month after, we’ll attach everything to the boards. In the meantime, thanks for joining us for another month! As usual, any questions, comments, hate mail or fan mail can be sent to me at:

Thomas Beckett
13628 Belmead Ave
Grandview, MO 64030

Or you can email me at:

             See you next month!


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