General Tutorials

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

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 crib 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.

69 thoughts on “How to Modify Your Ironing Board into a Rectangular (Quilter’s) Ironing Board

  1. Brenda Ackerman says:

    Hello Yvonne! Sorry that I missed this great post! Julie C posted it on her blog and I was just going over a few blogs before calling it a night. Yet, I had to come and see how you had done yours. I have wanted to have a larger ironing board for quite some time, but then go and forget about it. LOL. This time, I posted it to my hubbies FB page! Thank you and your husband for doing a great tutorial on putting this together! Your new ironing board is fabulous! Have a stupendous time using it for yards and yards to come! Have a great day!

  2. Claudia says:

    I have a heavy duty board that I think would be well suited to this adaptation. Can you still fold your board up? I might need extra floor space occasionally.

  3. Iliana says:

    Esta genial la idea,gracias !

  4. Joan says:

    I love it. Just what I’ve been wanting for years. Now to get it done. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Jeanne says:

    These are great instructions. I just finished making one for myself and it will make it so much easier when I’m making quilts and valances. Instead of duck canvas, I used ironing board fabric I found at JoAnn Fabrics but I did use the crib size batting as you suggested and that worked perfectly. Thanks!

  6. Lisa Smith says:

    Hi! This looks really helpful! Thank you for posting. One thing I would add is the heat reflective material on top of the batting under the cotton duck. My ironing board is close to 48 years old and the covers (probably 6 or more as mom used to just add covers on top, instead of replacing them when they tore) all have some sort of heat reflective material on them. Just a thought! Thanks again for the tutorial! Cheers!

  7. Katherine Simonton says:

    I set up a barter exchange with a neighbor…he made me this ironing board-in all purple I might add-and I made him a throw quilt. LOVE this bigger board-makes such a difference when tackling yardage. thanks for your great ideas! Love your work and site. Katie

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