2024 Update – If you would like a print friendly PDF version of this tutorial, you can purchase it for $2 in my pattern shop:
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
- 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.
- 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
- Or have the hardware store pre-cut for you
- 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
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.
Step 2 – Mark Out Size to Cut from Plywood
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
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.
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
Remove the ironing board from the plywood and pre-drill all the marked locations for the screws.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Flip your ironing board base upside down and drive screws into the pre-marked and drilled holes.
- 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.
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.
2024 Update – Print Friendly PDF
If you would like a print friendly PDF version of this tutorial, you can purchase it for $2 in my pattern shop:
Linking up with Tips and Tutorials Tuesday.