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Make Your Own Two-Sided Masonite Panels

An Illustrated Tutorial on How to Make Your Own Two-Sided Masonite Panels

Two-sided masonite panels provide durable, warp-free supports for artists who prefer painting on a rigid surface. Untempered masonite is used because its non-oil surface is more suitable for the application of gesso. These two-sided masonite painting panels are designed to prevent warpage -- a common problem with single-sided panels. Only one side needs to be gessoed, unless you plan to paint on both sides.

These instructions use a 20" x 24" panel as a model. With this design, panels of any size can be constructed. We do recommend, however, that additional crossbars be placed every two feet on large panels.

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Step 1
Cut two 20" and two 24" wood pieces for the panel's framework using a hack saw and miter box. Cut another 17" piece to use as a crossbar. The crossbar should have straight cut ends. The cuts on the framework can be either mitered or straight. When using straight cuts, be sure to glue the longer lengths on the outside of the short lengths. This gives the panel a more finished look, particularly if you do not frame the painting. In either case, it is crucial that your cuts are perfectly square or 45°.

If you have a router, cut the masonite ¼" over size (20¼" x 24¼"). After the panel is constructed, run it through a router to achieve the exact size. If you do not have a router, carefully measure and cut your masonite to the exact size you want the finished panel. After cutting the two pieces, measure diagonally across each piece to check for squareness. To begin the next step, you should have two 20" pieces, two 24" pieces, one 17" crossbar and two pieces of masonite, 20" x 24".

see larger image

Step 2
Assemble the framework by gluing the ends together with wood glue and stapling across the mitered joints (butt joints, if you used straight cuts). Glue both ends of the crossbar, place it inside the center of the framework and staple across the butt joints. Measure diagonally across the completed framework to make sure everything is square.

see larger image

Step 3
Spread contact adhesive evenly across the assembled framework and on the rough side of the masonite where it will rest against the framework. Allow the adhesive to dry on both surfaces.

When dry, carefully place the framework onto the masonite, pressing down to ensure contact. Use a brayer over the masonite surface to ensure uniform contact. If you use wood glue rather than contact adhesive, spread the glue thinly on the framework and position it onto the rough side of the masonite. To secure until dry, place weights on the glued surface or clamp the framework and masonite with C-clamps. Allow to dry overnight.

Step 4
Repeat Step Three with the other piece of masonite.

Step 5
Break the glaze on the masonite by lightly sanding the entire surface. Sand around the framework edges until smooth.

The masonite painting panels described in this article were designed and tested by Artech -- a unique art handling and installation service located in Seattle, Washington.


  • 1/8" (4mm) untempered masonite
  • 1½" x ½" cedar, spruce, fire or pine
  • 3M 30-NF contact adhesive
  • Wood glue
  • Hack saw and miter box
  • C-clamps
  • Staple gun
  • ½" staples
  • Sandpaper (medium grade)