Help with Dry Erase Board for gaming mat/board...

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I recently got a 2 foot by 3 foot dry erase board (white board) from work. I worked at a Borders, and when we closed there was an unsold board that I was allowed to take home.

Once I pop off the pen tray (think the chalk tray at the bottom of school chalk boards), and rework the edging of the board with some plastic framing trim, I want to put a permanent 1" x 1" grid on the board so that I can lay it flat on the table, use dry erase markers, and use that as a more dynamic game board instead of using premade maps, maps drawn on paper, or dungeon tiles.

So the reason I'm making this post is that I'm looking for suggestions for how to put a permanent grid on the board. My initial thought is to use a T-Square and a black sharpie marker to draw the grid, but I'm not sure if a sharpie will really be permanent on the slick glossy surface of the board. So would this strategy work, or is there something else that I should try instead? 
I would test a single sharpie line and see if it rubs off after 24hrs. 1/8" black tape is commonly used on white boards and should work. Not sure how much $ that will cost for the full board. You can get it at Staples or Office Depot.
I tried this as well, but sharpy doesn't work. The lines are too thick and it's impossible to actually draw walls because you can't go over the Sharpy unless you make the lines even thicker.

What I found worked best in the end was actually to just place dots at every corner. That lets you draw in the actual walls between dots where you need them, and remove them easily.

However odds are pretty good that the sharpie will still come off after a while. If you run over the spot with dry-erase and then rub it off, you'll take the sharpie off as well. (It's actually a trick to get rid of sharpie on whiteboard, if you do it a few times)

Must say though, that I find an actual battlemat to work far better then whiteboard when it comes to squares; I haven't really found a way to make whiteboard work for maps. It's awesome for keeping data (surges, hp, powers, etc) though! 
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Must say though, that I find an actual battlemat to work far better then whiteboard when it comes to squares; I haven't really found a way to make whiteboard work for maps. It's awesome for keeping data (surges, hp, powers, etc) though! 



This, tbh. I understand wanting to use the free board but wet-erase battle mats work wonderfully, are easy to transport and you don't have to worry about accidentally rubbing off the ink, unlike dry-erase. Put that board to work as your initiative tracker.
I got a dry erase battle mat from my game shop and it works pretty well, the only problem with a completely white dry erase board is that it doesn't have a way of making a grid. Some have said electrical tape works, but I don't know personally.
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What about scoring a grid into the whiteboard with a utility knife? I bet once you've used it a few times and the dry erase marker dust gets into the grooves, it will make nice, thin black lines. (Though I've never done this, only speculating.) 

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What about scoring a grid into the whiteboard with a utility knife? I bet once you've used it a few times and the dry erase marker dust gets into the grooves, it will make nice, thin black lines. (Though I've never done this, only speculating.) 



I had thought last year about building something like this, and scoring with a utility knife was one of the ideas I came up with then for marking a grid on a dry-erase board. 

I'm not sure if moisture would cause the lamination to separate from the backing over time, but that's the worst-case scenario I could think of.

Another possibility might be to draw the grid with a stylus of some sort that will press a groove into the surface without cutting through the surface; this wouldn't absorb the ink leaving the thin black lines, but it might work just well enough to work with, without breaking the surface of the dry-erase board and endanger its integrity.

And, another possibility might be to draw a temporary grid, and use a push-pin to poke holes at each intersection, for a sort of hybrid between cutting lines as described by Iserith, and marking corners as described by Pluisjen; the holes should be fairly easy for everyone to see, but the board surface would still be in one piece.


In any case, a large dry-erase board seems like it would make a great gaming table top
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What about scoring a grid into the whiteboard with a utility knife? I bet once you've used it a few times and the dry erase marker dust gets into the grooves, it will make nice, thin black lines. (Though I've never done this, only speculating.) 




Hmm, now that's a great idea. Something I didn't even think of. I'll have to consider that or the push pin idea.
FWIW, this is the tape I was referring to: Cosco Art Tape
I had thought last year about building something like this, and scoring with a utility knife was one of the ideas I came up with then for marking a grid on a dry-erase board. 

I'm not sure if moisture would cause the lamination to separate from the backing over time, but that's the worst-case scenario I could think of.



Definitely a cause for concern. I'm not sure how they are constructed, so couldn't say. Try Googling this topic up. I bet other forums or older threads on the WotC forums have other suggestions.

Even if it does peel apart after a year, hey, it was still free! We used to make battlemats in high school using a big poster frame and graph paper inside it. Dry erase markers wipe right off a poster frame. One multilevel PVC frame later (and it could fold down for storage, too!) and we had a multidimensional gaming platform. Now it's an online interface for me.

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FWIW, this is the tape I was referring to: Cosco Art Tape


Thanks for the link.

How "permanent" is the tape? would it stay down on the board after repeated drawing/erasing? 
I've used it in the past to set up larger grids for business use and have never had a problem with it sticking. Don't know if it would be a different experience as a 1" x 1" grid on a gaming table or not. But if after a while it gets annoying, you can just pull it off.
If it is a usual whiteboard I would expect it to have a steel backing of some sort. If that is the case magnets? Not really sure what and how but there could be something there aside from playing with the board up against a wall.
Just a note about sharpies and dry erase board-- I know they so a sharpy is a permanent marker and it generally is, unless you scribble over it with a dry erase marker (seriously try it, scribble on a corner with a sharpy and then scribble over it with a dry erase marker).

As you draw on the board and erase it, your sharpy lines will come off.

Do what someone else suggested and use the board as an intitiate/status tracker and get battlemat.  It's better in every way, just make sure to get the correct markers.
I know this doesn't help with your free dry- erase board, but the absolute BEST (and inexpensive) homemade grid is a piece of thin plexiglass from Home Depot! As twesterm said, permanent marker lines wil be erased if you cross or draw over them with dry- erase markers. A sheet of plexiglass is obviously transparent, so you can draw the permanent grid lines on one side and your maps on the other without fear of losing your grid lines. I put a small star sticker (the ones we used to get on our spelling tests when we made 100 in elementary school) on the corner of map side so that I never accidentally draw maps on the wrong side, thus erasing my grid lines. The plexiglass also allows you to place printed maps underneath (keeping them nice and flat) and still be able to draw temporary features, like zones created in combat, etc..., or you can just place a sheet of colored posterboard under it to represent different things (green for grass/woods, blue for water terrain, grey for dungeon, castle floors). Here's an example: www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-2020380...
Exactly what Nephylos said. A piece of plexiglass from home depot. I use a 3x4 foot grid that I lay the plexi glass on top of so i dont even need the grid on the plexi glass it self and can aslo lay out complex tile dungeons and lay the plexi over the top of that. Its the best thing ever. Mix that with a few colors of dry erase markers and the next best thing to a digital table top.
If you score the board with a utility knife, you could use Crayola's Dry Erase crayons.  They don't wipe off as easily when people's hands are moving things on the board and won't introduce moisture into the grooves you've scored in.
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For the past 6 years, we've used a dry erase marker board (4 ft x 3 ft or so). My wife etched a grid into it with a knife. It's been perfect. The board won't come apart.

Our previous DM had a board, 14 ft by 5 ft in his basement; etched in the same manner that has been used for over 20 years....

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Use a wet erase marker for the grid and dry erase marks will come off easily. Don't use any whiteboard spray otherwise it'll all come up.

DON'T USE A PERMANENT MARKER. I found out the hard way that dry erase + permanent marker leaves semi permanent marks behind.

However, I did buy a chessex battlemat for the portability. Rolling it up is a lot easier to transport than a huge board.
If you're sold on a harder surface than a battlemat and want some portability, you might consider Battle Boards.  I use them.  I like how they are expandable and that I can hide some parts of the map to add quickly as the party discovers the area.
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