How to Modify Your Ironing Board into a Rectangular (Quilter’s) Ironing Board

Tutorial

modify-your-ironing-board

For my birthday this year, I asked my husband to help me modify my ironing board. I had been eyeing a tutorial by my friend Terri Ann @Childlike Fascination. I have been using the large board for almost 2 months now and *loving* it – a fat quarter fits on the top as do full widths of quilting fabric opened up with room for my iron to spare! Because my husband is quite handy and we have a lot of tools available, I thought I’d fill in some details in case you want to cut your own plywood board, etc.

Physical Supply List

  • 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood
    • I will talk about how we cut down the full sheet to 55″ by 19″, but you could have the hardware store do this step for you
    • I used 17.5 mm / 11/16-inch thick Pine Plywood, other thicknesses could work
  • 100% Cotton batting
    • I used 4 layers which used 2 packages of craft size batting
  • 100% Cotton duck canvas
    • I found 60-inch wide duck canvas at Joann’s and purchased 2/3 yard
  • Staples shorter than the depth of your board
    • We used 3/8″ staples
  • Screws
    • Shorter than the thickness of the plywood
  • Optional: Washers
    • My ironing board had pre-existing small holes in it already and did not need washers. If your base ironing board is a wire mesh, you will need washers under the heads of your screws.

Tool List

  • Measuring Tape
  • Marking Pencil
  • Round Object
    • I used a bowl from my kitchen to mark rounded corners
  • Electric Drill
  • Circular Saw
    • Or have the hardware store pre-cut for you
  • Jigsaw
    • Or have the hardware store pre-cut for you
  • Sandpaper
    • We used a disc sander, but sanding by hand will work
  • Staple gun
  • Optional: Router
    • We used a bull nose bit to round the edges, but you can also round the corners by sanding them by hand.

Step 1 – Remove Ironing Board Cover

Step 1 - Remove Ironing Board Cover
Step 1 – Remove Ironing Board Cover

When I removed my ironing board cover, this is what the structure of the top of my ironing board looked like. Many ironing boards resemble a wire mesh. You might want to do this step before you go to the hardware store to buy supplies as this is a good time to check to see if you need washers to go under the screw heads that will mount your ironing board to the new top in the final step.

Example of Mesh Ironing Board Structure - I Suggest Using Washers if Yours Looks Like This
Example of Mesh Ironing Board Structure – I Suggest Using Washers if Yours Looks Like This

Step 2 – Mark Out Size to Cut from Plywood

Step 2 - Mark Out Size to Cut Plywood (19" x 55")
Step 2 – Mark Out Size to Cut Plywood (19″ x 55″)

Using a measuring tape and marking tool, make several marks 19″ away from one long edge of the sheet of plywood. Using a large straight edge, connect those marks. Using a measuring tape and marking tool, make several marks 55″ away from one short edge of the sheet of plywood. Using a large straight edge, connect those marks. This will create a 19″ by 55″ rectangle out of one corner of the 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood.

Step 3 – Fit Check and Mark Locations for Screws

Step 3 - Fit Check and Mark Locations for Screws
Step 3 – Fit Check and Mark Locations for Screws

My husband and I are firm believers in the adage “measure twice, cut once”. Prior to cutting out your new plywood top from the sheet of plywood, flip your ironing board upside down and place it in the marked rectangle. Does the size look appropriate? Are you happy with this size?

Things to consider at this point are that the 55″ length should be pretty long compared to the width of your leg supports, and the end with the point in your original ironing board will be much heavier than before with the plywood top installed, so biasing the top to overhang the wider portion of your base ironing board as much as possible would be wise. Just note that the longer you make the plywood board, the heavier and less stable it will be.

Step 3 - Fit Check and Mark Locations for Screws
Step 3 – Fit Check and Mark Locations for Screws

I drew a circle inside each hole that I wanted to use to screw the plywood to the ironing board in the final step at this point.

Step 4 – Pre-Drill Screw Holes

Step 4 - Pre-Drill Screw Holes
Step 4 – Pre-Drill Screw Holes

Remove the ironing board from the plywood and pre-drill all the marked locations for the screws.

Step 4 - Pre-Drill Screw Holes
Step 4 – Pre-Drill Screw Holes

Note that we also had marked a line down the center of the length of the board to help us position the ironing board during the fit check.

Step 5 – Use Circular Saw to Cut Plywood to Size

Step 5 - Use Circular Saw to Cut Plywood to Size
Step 5 – Use Circular Saw to Cut Plywood to Size

My husband and I placed the 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood on stacks of cardboard boxes to keep it off the ground. We also heavily believe in personal protective equipment: my husband wore a full face respirator and hearing protection.

Step 6 – Mark Rounded Corners

Step 6 - Mark Rounded Corners
Step 6 – Mark Rounded Corners

I used a bowl from my kitchen to create the rounded corner shapes for the 4 corners of my top. I highly recommend rounding the corners and not keeping them square.

Step 7 – Use Jigsaw to Cut Corners Round

Step 7 - Use Jigsaw to Cut Corners Round
Step 7 – Use Jigsaw to Cut Corners Round

The best advice for using a jigsaw is to cut just outside of the marked line, and don’t worry if the start and end of the cut are not perfect, the next step is to sand those areas smooth. 🙂

Step 8 – Sand Sides of Plywood

Step 8 - Sand Edges of Plywood
Step 8 – Sand Edges of Plywood

Specifically, this step is to sand smooth the the newly cut rounded corners to the straight sides of the plywood top.

Step 9 – Sand Sharp Edges

Step 9 - Sand Sharp Edges
Step 9 – Sand Sharp Edges

We used a bull nose bit in a router to round the edges, but you can also round the edges by sanding them by hand. This step helps tug / smooth the batting and duck canvas, so I recommend doing it to both sides of the plywood.

Step 10 – Secure Batting to Plywood

Step 10 - Secure Batting to Plywood
Step 10 – Secure Batting to Plywood

Place 4 layers of 100% cotton* batting on a flat surface, then center the plywood on top of the layers of batting, wrong side up. Starting in the center of the longest sides, gently wrap and pull the batting around the edge of the plywood and secure with a staple.

We stapled the batting 1/2″ to 1″ away from the edge of the plywood and then trimmed the batting back to the edge of the staples so that the duck canvas would entirely cover these staples in the next step. You might need to trim a little extra batting away in the corners where it bunches up.

*Note that it is important to use 100% cotton because a hot iron may cause polyester or synthetic materials to melt.

Step 11 – Secure Duck Canvas to Plywood

Step 11 - Secure Duck Canvas to Plywood
Step 11 – Secure Duck Canvas to Plywood

We chose to take our time with the corners and worked out a system of stapling the very center of the curve and then pleating and folding the fabric to get a smoother corner.

Step 12 – Secure (Screw) Ironing Board Base to Plywood Top

Step 12 - Secure (Screw) Ironing Board Base to Plywood Top
Step 12 – Secure (Screw) Ironing Board Base to Plywood Top

Flip your ironing board base upside down and drive screws into the pre-marked and drilled holes.

Optional: Washers

  • My ironing board had pre-existing small holes in it already and did not need washers. If your base ironing board is a wire mesh, you will need washers under the heads of your screws. Washers will also help keep the heads of your screws from working their way through the holes over time, so if the heads of your screws are not larger than the hole size or very close to the same size, please use a washer.
Step 12 - Secure (Screw) Ironing Board Base to Plywood Top
Step 12 – Secure (Screw) Ironing Board Base to Plywood Top

Enjoy!

Enjoy!
Enjoy!

I am so thrilled with how well this modification to my ironing board works for me. A fat quarter fits perfectly on the top, and I can open up a full width of fabric to press (as shown above) with room for my iron to sit to the side. The plywood top is heavier than before, and my ironing board is larger than before, but the base has held up fine with the extra weight for 2 months and ironing long seams and large pieces of fabric (quilt backings!) is so much easier now.

Linking up with Tips and Tutorials Tuesday.

47 comments

  • Yvonne, thank you for the great tutorial. I have been frustrated with the standard ironing board shape. But I think I will have to get a new one before I can make the new top. Mine’s a little wobbly and with the extra weight on top would probably tip over easily. Sound like a good after Christmas project.

    • My husband fixed mine, and it is in fact a bit unstable. I need to figure out how to make it more weighted in the legs, so it is not prone to tip over. Once that is done, the top is AMAZING! As long as I keep it up against a wall or counter it is OK..but not the best solution.

  • Thanks for the idea and tutorial!! My husband is also very handy and will be able to put this together for me! It will make ironing so much easier-and a larger space for me to pile stuff on!

  • Great idea and tutorial! I made a small portable ironing table using a wooden TV tray from WalMart as the base but never thought of adapting my full size ironing board. Your modified ironing table would sure take a lot of frustration out of ironing for quilts.

  • Hi Yvonne, great tutorial on making the top. I would highly recommend using the silver ironing cloth on top rather than duck – I tried this and the duck cloth broke down and split after just a few months requiring recovering. The silver ironing cloth lasts for years.

  • This is great, Yvonne! I have to change my cover still, but I have an ironing board that’s much bigger than most. I LOVE the extra space it has (I believe it was from Bed Bath and Beyond, if anyone is interested). Anyway, I asked for it on a whim as a wedding gift, and I actually did receive it! I’m all for DIY but just in case someone doesn’t have the right tools to do so. 🙂

  • Imagine having ironing space like the top of this one! I love the tutorial and hope to one day have my ‘handyman’ do this on my ironing board! Thanks for sharing Yvonne! Maybe I could get this for christmas?!

  • This is totally what I’d hoped to do before I decided to cover a drafting board as an ironing surface. But it’s a terrific tutorial and I’ll keep it ‘just in case!’

  • Good Morning Yvonne! Excellent tutorial! I have seriously been considering asking either my Father or my Husband to create such a ironing board for myself and one for a great friend. Which would be a great Christmas gift. Thank you for sharing and have a fantastic creative day!

  • I’ve been wanting to do this for awhile. There are always old ironing boards at Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity Restore, I need to check those out again for a good one. Thanks!!

  • My husband made me one for Christmas a few years back (after much begging). I found instructions on the internet and it had a lip all the way around so that it sets on the regular ironing board. I can remove it from ironing board so I can iron clothing (as if that happens very often. Also makes it easier to change the cover. Other than that, I can say that this has made me VERY Happy and I know you will love yours too.

  • What a great idea! I gave away not one, but two ironing boards about 6 years ago. Then I took up quilting–pretty bad timing. Now I have a 3 foot/folds in half thing that drives me crazy. Guess I need to find another ironing board to make one of yours. Love step 11–look at how neat that is–and the last pic of your studio–looks like a fun place to create!

  • I made a top like this for my sewing room. and then considered the use of space under this, got some closet organizers that fit”under the ironing board and then just set the top on them, and got rid of the ironing board entirely.

  • Thank you so very much for this comprehensive tutorial. I wonder if my husband would notice if I did this to our ironing board. He has to iron his clothes for work but I do not. I have a small pressing board but it is quite cumbersome to press anything more than a block.

  • Great tutorial, Yvonne! Have you tried collapsing your ironing board like this? Since I sew in my kitchen I have to put my ironing board away after each session and I wonder how well that would work.

  • I made a 24″ square board with a strap handle to press my cross stitch on. I painted polyeurethane over the top surface before covering it with batting. I thought it may prevent warping since I usually mist the fabric with water before pressing. I’ve had it for years and just put a new cover on it from time to time. I love this idea of a larger one!
    Thanks!

  • Ooooh it looks great! How to the legs handle the extra weight? My old ironing board had similar legs, but my new one (from like the 60s, I got it from my Grandma’s estate) has better legs.

  • I would also add 4 “legs” that attach to underside edge of board on each corner and have them come to the ground. Could use scrap wood. Would make it much more stable.

    • I was just offering a solution to the heavy aspect of table. Email reply i received was very negative so i will leave this thread.Here is response i received – “I think at that point, you might as well just build your own custom board without a base metal frame. But everyone is free to do what serves them best!”

      Yvonne

      • I am sorry that you see that response as very negative – I honestly was pleased with your addition to the thread and encourage everyone to do what fits them best.

        If I were to add legs, I would not use a base frame – that would suit *me* best.

  • I had my husband do this to one of my ironing boards about 5 years ago. It’s PERFECT! I have had to replace to cloth a few times but I use it for just about everything. Thanks for sharing!!

  • I love this idea. But you should use washers between the ironing board and the screws, or else over time the screws might work their way through the holes on the ironing board.

  • Yvonne, Great tutorial! I’ve been thinking about this for quite awhile but hadn’t really thought about even how to do it. Now to see if I can get hubby to help me with it. Thanks.

I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)