One of the basic pieces of macrame equipment is the macrame board. This board holds the work while the crafter knots it, and there are different types of boards available. Most macrame boards are flat pieces of foam, particleboard, or pressed cardboard. The traditional style of board is one in which macramé projects can be pinned to a flat work surface. These boards need to be lightweight so that a knotter can hold them in his or her lap if desired. Although there are various commercial boards available, they can also be made at home.
The surface of a macrame board often has a grid marked in inches or centimeters. The knotter usually relies on the grid marks to ensure that the finished work is even. Occasionally, boards feature small increments of sizes. Many macrame boards incorporate some diagrams of the basic knots, which is especially helpful for beginners. Usually these diagrams include the larkshead, square, double half hitch, and other simple knots.
The most popular macrame boards typically are about 11 by 17 inches (about 27 by 43 cm), though other sizes are sometimes offered. Generally, they range from 0.5 to 0.75 inches (about 1.25 to 1.88 cm) thick, depending on the material and the manufacturer. Some of the new designs include improvements to help the knotter keep the threads from tangling. For instance, pegs could be placed on each side of a long, narrow, wooden board. These pegs hold the skeins of thread when they are not in use. A strip of cork down the board's center allows the knotter to pin the work.
Another example of a commercial, custom-designed board is a polyurethane plastic board that has slots at the bottom to grip the threads. These slots keep tension on the threads as well as keeping them neatly organized. Generally, the board's 12-inch by 16-inch (about 30-cm by 40-cm) work surface allows plenty of knotting space, including wide pieces up to 12 inches (30 cm) in width.
Since a macrame board is simply a flat, sturdy workspace, many crafters make their own. Sometimes people use materials such as foam-based building insulation; others make elaborate boards using pine boards covered with cork. Some knotters prefer a soft surface like a pillow top. For a quick project, heavy cardboard from boxes works well. Often unconventional items may be used, such as a garden kneeling pad. When a person makes a custom macrame board, he or she may make it small enough to fit in a travel bag or large enough to cover a wall. Often custom-made boards are thicker so that the pins do not accidentally pass through the backside and stab the knotter.
A person can mark his or her handmade macrame board into measured squares, similar to commercial boards' grids. A quick and easy way to create a grid is to cover insulation with gingham or symmetrical plaid fabric. Gingham is available in different check sizes from 0.125 to 1 inch (about 0.3 to 2.5 cm). For beginners, pinning a chart of the knots they plan to use to their board may help prevent them from making mistakes.