Use a Stainless Shelf (Yes, You Can!) to Make a Magnetic Inspiration Board

I love my magnetic inspiration board made from an industrial kitchen shelf. It allows me to keep projects organized and neat. (photos by Bob Farley)

My New Year’s resolution? Get organized! I’ve decided to start with an easy task ā€” the idea board. I love my magnetic inspiration board. I can’t remember how a carpenter friend came about owning so many industrial kitchen shelves but I am glad he had a stack of them. When he moved out of his old shop, he gave me one. He asked what I would do with it but I wasn’t sure at the time. I knew though, sooner or later, I would find a use for it. And here it is.

Since the back of the shelf is hollow, it was easy to use picture hangers to hang the board.

The stainless steel shelf is a simple wall mount type ā€” the edges are boxed off like a frame and the backside is hollow, so I knew it would work well hung flat instead of perpendicular to the wall. Not all stainless steel is magnetic (see below for more info), and until I tried sticking a magnet to it, I didn’t know if I could use the shelf as an idea board or not. The magnet worked! I already had a nice collection of decorative magnets sitting in a drawer (because the doors on my refrigerator are not magnetic). Finally, I got to put them to use.

Artful magnets hold ideas in place on the board, add a bit of color, and remind me of people and places.

Now I have a nice and clean visual reference for the projects I have lined up. It is easy to change things up, move clippings around, and organize my thoughts and ideas as the weeks or months go by.

Magnetic inspiration boards may be made with various metal shelving, filing cabinet drawer fronts, locker room cabinet doors, galvanized roofing pieces, or old car parts. It’s fun to bring in these elements to the work or craft space, and the unique character of the idea board you design will help spark inspiration.

Not all stainless steel is magnetic. Check before you commit.

Good to Know: What makes stainless steel magnetic, or not? If you went around your house with a magnet, testing different stainless surfaces, you would find some are and some are not magnetic. It all depends on the composition and how much chromium is added for corrosive resistance and nickel added for strength. The basic structure of stainless steel is made of iron, and is magnetic, but to prevent the steel from rusting, and to give it that “scrub-it-down-to-the-next-layer-if-it-does-rust” quality, other metals are added to the alloy. Depending on how much of these other metals are added, it may or may not be magnetic, and you won’t know until you try touching a magnet to the surface.

See below for continuing inspiration for clever message and photo boards.

3 Responses

  1. anna says:

    where did you get your shelf?

  2. Linda Farley says:

    Great idea Michelle. Linda Farley


About Michelle Reynolds 


Iā€™m a slipcover maker who refuses to fill the trash with the cutaway bits of designer fabrics, so I strive to make use of every scrap. I live with my ...

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