DIY Poster Board Templates

by SP0NZ | April 14, 2015 | (92) Posted in How To

Flite Test is all about getting people into the RC hobby and doing it affordably.  Often times you will hear them mention that you should trace out the parts of your speed build kits so you can make another, or make replacement parts if you crash.

If you spend any amount of time on the Flite Test forums, you would know that a topic of discussion that comes up frequently is how to make templates from printed plans. If there is a deisgn that you think that you might build more than once, or you've crashed and need to rebuild a wing or part of your fuselage, having templates can save you a lot of time. There are many techniques that have been discussed. Some of those techniques include using foam board templates (or using your speed build kit as the template), laminating paper plans, printing plans on card stock, or using poster board. Personally, I prefer to use poster board. In this article I will describe the method I use to create my own templates.

Supplies: 

  • Poster Board (white is usually cheaper but you can use any color you like)
  • Scotch Tape
  • Spray Adhesive (3M Super 77/Loctite General Performance 100, etc.)
  • T-Pin(s)
  • Mechanical Pencil (.7mm works best)
  • Straight Edge (preferably metal)
  • X-Acto or Utility Knife


Making Your Templates:

  • Print out the full-sized or tiled plans.  For this example, I will be using my plans for the Baby Baron, but the same principles will aplpy for any Flite Test plans and most of the plans you will find by other designers that contribute here such as nerdnic, ALP, and Hotwax to name a few.
  • If you are printing the tiled plans you will need to cut and tape together the individual tiles.

  • Cut-out the individual pieces from the paper plans leaving roughly 1/2" - 3/4" around the outside of each piece

  • Glue the individual pieces to poster board with spray adhesive (I use 3M Super 77).  Use a generous amout of glue on the backside of the paper and carefully place them on the poseter board.
    Note:  Most of the poster board that I use is 22 in x 28 in.  Foam board is usually 20 in x 30 in.  In some cases, there will be parts that can fit on a sheet of foam board but cannot fit on a single piece of poster board.  You can splice two pieces of poster board together with tape for these larger pieces.

  • Cut out the poster board templates for each piece on the cut lines using an X-Acto or utility knife.  Take your time with this step.  Use a straight edge to cut the straight sections for the best results.
    Note:  Any mistakes you make here will be repeated with every airplane built from these templates.  So, take your time.

  • Cut out any openings on the inside of the part (i.e. servos, formers, etc.)
     
  • Poke pin holes through the score, crease, reference and control horn lines. At a minimum, put two holes in each line near the ends of the line.  I place a scrap piece of foam board under the poster board to make the pin holes.



  • (Optional) Label each piece with the plane name, part name, quantity, left/right hand, etc.  This will make it a lot easier to know what parts go to what airplane if they get left out or mixed up later on.  If you are using any of my plans than I've already done all the work for you.

     

Once you have all the templates cut out, you are ready to use them to trace out the patterns on your foam board.  You will also use the templates during the build as your instructions for your folds, score lines, referenece lines and cavities.


Transferring to Foam Board:

  • Position the poster board template onto the foam board
  • Pin the template to the foam board using at least 2 pins to keep it from moving.  Only pin through the top paper and part of the foam.  Optionally you can use weights to help hold the template in place for tracing.

  • Trace around the outside of the template onto the foam board with a mechanical pencil.  Also trace any cutouts on the inside of the part.
  • Mark all the holes (score, crease and reference lines) in the template with a mechanical pencil

  • Remove the pins and the poster board template and check to make sure your lines transferred.  If you missed anything, you can easily realign the template using the same pin holes to locate it.
     
  • Connect the dots for your score, crease and reference lines using a straight edge and a mechanical pencil

  • Once the part is fully transferred to the foam board you are ready to cut it out.

 

Storing Your Templates:

I also use poster board to make a folder to store my each of my templates in.  Simply fold a full sheet of poster board in half to make a folder.  I tape one of the loose sides together to keep the pieces from falling out easily.  You can easily label the template folder using a sharpie.

 

Creating your own templates with poster board is relatively easy and inexpensive.  It does take a little more time upfront before you can get that first plane built.  But, if you build more than one, or need a replacement part or two, you will be saving time in the long run.

If you enjoyed this article please take the time to rate it.  Also, if you have any questions, corrections or comments, I'd appreciate your feedback, so please leave a comment below.  Thanks.

COMMENTS

dharkless on April 23, 2015
Nice article! Good idea and well presented.
I have been using foam board templates because I work in the house in the winter but for those with a heated garage or good outside weather this is definitely the way to go. I used to use poster board for storing. I made mine by taping several full sheets together to make several attached full sized pockets. These are good for paper plans. I use the cardboard tri-folds that are right beside the Dollar Tree foam board in the store for storing foam board templates. They stack well and hold the smaller models well.
Thanks for sharing.
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SP0NZ on April 23, 2015
Thanks for the feedback. I'm a big fan of your articles as well. Your one-sheet no waste planes are really cool.
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#3 on April 23, 2015
Good article I do all of my planes this way including the poster board for storage pouches for my templates.Thanks for all the work you do ,designing and posting most of use could not build planes ,without your plans.
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SP0NZ on April 23, 2015
Thank for the comments. I appreciate that. I spent a long time trying to come up with a format for my plans that not only helps with cutting out parts, but also acts as a set of instructions for for the parts go together. It's still a work in progress, there is even more information I plan on adding to the plans in the future.
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davewert1@hotmail.com on April 24, 2015
Great article well written and concise . This is a great help to a newbie like me. I was wondering how to transfer plans to foam board. Thanks
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SP0NZ on April 24, 2015
Happy to help, glad you liked it.
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Kurt0326 on April 24, 2015
Thumbs up.
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Petrie on April 24, 2015
Good information. If I could add one tip. Sometimes when cutting curves or slots the lower side of the foam board will not come out with a clean cut. unfortunately when folded this is visible on the outside of the plane. With a template you can cut everything then turn the foam over and mark the 50% cuts and score marks on the opposite side of the foam. When the plane folded you will end up with the clean cuts on the outside.
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SP0NZ on April 24, 2015
That's a really good point (and tip). For cutouts like the wing slots on some of the FT designs, it's usually better to not cut out that material until after you glue up the fuselage. I usually put the template on the back (outside) of the part and trace those areas on so that I can cut them out after the piece is formed.
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Petrie on April 25, 2015
Another great tip. Thank you.
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nickschaos81 on April 24, 2015
Thank you so much! I was kicking around the idea of poster board for templates but the way to mark fold lines and score lines eluded me lol. You nailed it thou. Going to be making templates here real soon and putting them in new pouches. Your awesome!
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SP0NZ on April 24, 2015
Glad I could help. That's really why I wrote this article. Not everything in this article was my idea originally. I just put together a lot of tips I've learned from other forum members here over the past two years. So many people have asked about this on the forums I thought it would be helpful if I made an article.
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cbarnes0061 on April 24, 2015
I make templates using the same method. Do it for my foamies and for my balsa builds. That baby baron looks pretty cool. Any pictures of it complete or are you willing to share the plans?
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SP0NZ on April 24, 2015
Thanks for asking. The Baby Baron is a Mighty Mini sized version of the Bloody Baron. There is a build thread for it here http://forum.flitetest.com/showthread.php?17571-Baby-Baron-Build. The plans need a little bit of tweaking yet, but a couple of people have already built and flown it. I will be doing an article for it and releasing it pretty soon.
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grether2000 on April 24, 2015
Thanks for the excellent article. I have heard talk of using poster board, but had not looked into it before. For a little bit more effort than what I was doing with just the paper I'll now end up with a better, longer lasting template.
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Yogenh on April 24, 2015
I like what you did and will have to make some for the ones that I build, Thanks for the good work.
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Hoagen on April 25, 2015
I started building before I read this article. I did not use a poster board since if I ever need another part I have saved the plan file from your site to my computer and will simply print out another copy if I need them.
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SimplyDoug on April 26, 2015
Great tips. I do it exactly the same way except I print un-tiled plans and use two pieces of DTFB to store my templates in. If a piece can be mirrored or duplicated I only cut one template and put a symbol on it to show that. Thinking about how you use the poster board I might adapt that with the DTFB to make an accordion fold template file that I can hang on the shop wall.
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Spitfiremk16 on April 27, 2015
Very helpful and well written article. Thank you for sharing your ideas with us. I have been saving my flite test plans on poster board but my technique for saving them is not as well thought out as yours. I plan to duplicate all of my plans onto posterboard in the same manner as you do now. Thank you!
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brian79cj on April 30, 2015
Sponz, I love your alignment marks on your plans. It really helps get them just right. I will be making poster board folders from now on.
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SP0NZ on May 9, 2015
Glad you like them. I mostly print tiled plans now too.
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GhostWolf on May 7, 2015
Halfway through my very 1st build. I believe I'd rather start over using this method than to continue on. So glad i came across this. Cutting through printed paper taped to foam board sucks.
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SP0NZ on May 9, 2015
Hope it helps you. I tried using the paper plans on the foam board when I first started and didn't like it much either.
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SnapPunchRobert on May 9, 2015
So cool. Great article. I use cereal boxes and tape to make templates but your way here looks a lot easier. Cereal box material rips pretty easy but ya always have a lot of it around.

Thanks for the article.
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SP0NZ on May 9, 2015
Never thought of cereal boxes. Great way to recycle them and a good resource if your on a budget. Good tip.
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danield on January 5, 2017
I use soda pop boxes, 12 pack makes a good size, just hot glue the holes for the finger grips.

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jksbusiness on May 9, 2015
Excellent article! Going to use an old art portfolio case to store my templates. That way, if I need to transport them to a friend's house, then they will be protected from the elements. I could also store some foam board pre-cut parts in the case. Now it is time to go shopping for supplies for my RC workbench: T- pins, spray adhesive, mechanical pencils and posterboard.
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agentorange2000 on May 21, 2015
Great article. I was trying as others to create my own method. I tried using pins then tracing on to the foam board, but of course the pieces kept moving. I'll give it another go. I'm wasting poster board now w/ some of my foul-ups, but like they are saying - it saves $ in the long run if you have good templates. I've still go good cut-outs so I'll just go back through and use the spay adhesive method and cut slowly.
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Bruce1026 on May 23, 2015
This works so well! It takes very little spray adhesive (just a spritz) to stick the plans to the poster board, so a can of adhesive goes a long way. I can't believe how much easier it makes it to transfer plans to the foam board and storing them is so much better. All of my plans now are going to be done this way. Great job SPONZ and I look forward to future articles from you!
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SP0NZ on May 25, 2015
Thanks for the comments. I'm glad it's working well for you.
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FlyingTrucker on June 11, 2015
Thanks for this article you have saved me from constantly printing out and assembling plans every time I crash my ft flyer and have to rebuild a part or plane. Please keep sending in stuff you are a great help to a noob like me.

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rfcgt on June 27, 2015
Has anyone tried putting ears on the template corners to mount it on the foam board. You can pin right through and into the foam and cutting board.
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Michael Nemetz on August 18, 2015
Thanks for taking the time to put together such a nice DIY article. I have been building FliteTest planes from plans for a number of months now and am pleased with them. However, I used a "pin punch" method to transfer the printed plans to the foam board. It works but takes a lot of time. Now after reading your article I can "see the light" at the end of the tunnel...LOL. You will save me hours of building time... Thanks a lot... I have not used it yet but it is so very obvious that it will save me a lot of time... Thanks again. xtravolts
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SP0NZ on August 18, 2015
Your welcome, and thank you for taking a few minutes to comment. I'm really glad that this article has helped a few people out.
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Scarcasm on August 19, 2015
Awesome Article Dan, I think this is something that is really needed. Just FYI for storing the plans I get large paper envelopes (Uline has them up to 24x36 but they are kinda pricey) and slide an extra DTFB in to keep the template flat.
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JohnBergt on September 6, 2015
Thanks for the article Dan, I applied your technique tonight to the print out of the FT Racer plans. Just one question though. As you cut out your templates, are you cutting on the black line, outside the black line, or inside the black line? It seems insignificant, but could make a difference. I cut everything so the full thickness of the black line is still showing, but I realize that when I use the stencil to draw the parts, all the parts will be just a hair bigger. I'm splitting hairs, but I am German, and just can't help it :)
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SP0NZ on September 6, 2015
Can't get much more German that Sponholz. :) So I know where you are coming from. I always cut my templates right on the line. I've done close to 20 by now and they have all worked out fine so far. I don't think you'll really have any problems one way or the other. Good luck with your FT Racer build. Did you use my plans or the original FT plans?
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JohnBergt on September 6, 2015
well, I got the fast build kit from FT, built it, painted it, (wasn't super thrilled with my building or painting skills), so deciding to start over. I did the templates since my friend and I are both building them.
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Dazz on September 17, 2015
Ok, hope I don't sound like an idiot... Just starting to learn to build with foam board.

Above it states "Mark all the holes (score, crease and reference lines) in the template with a mechanical pencil."

What exactly are you doing here? Are you just drawing along the score, crease and reference lines and it's just making an indention on the foam? Are you poking holes through to the foam and then marking the foam directly?
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SP0NZ on September 17, 2015
You need to poke pin holes through those lines in your templates first. If you re-read the article it explains how I do this. To transfer the lines to the plans, you need to mark each pin hole with your pencil and then use a straight edge to connect the dots.
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bionikcobra on October 9, 2015
I typically do the exact same thing with a few exceptions. I use 110# card stock to print out the plans, then use clear packing tape on all the cut lines and Dupont *Tyvex* tape on the back before I cut it all out. that way I can use a sharpie or anything and use #45 spray glue or T pins to hold the plans on the board and they are really stiff and will last forever, and the ink can't bleed into the templates.
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msestephens on October 10, 2015
After creating sticky messes trying to tape my templates to posterboard using the Super 77, I started just printing the plans out on card stock, taping them together, and once I cut them out I'm done. Yes, it costs more than regular printer paper but you don't have to buy the posterboard, and don't have to buy the Super 77, so it isn't that much more expensive and it's a large time saver for me. Here is what I use. http://www.samsclub.com/sams/gp-image-plus-card-stock-110lb-8-1-2-x-11-white-250-sheets/131967.ip?navAction=

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msestephens on October 10, 2015
Sorry my link didn't work... just go to samsclub.com and search for card stock. BTW, I fold a lot of the larger plans and store them in posterboard envelopes like you suggest. I fold them in half for the smaller planes and tape two pieces of posterboard together for the larger ones. It works well. Thanks for all you do, I am getting on the forum for the first time after finding your Baby Baron plane online and I wanted to check it out. Looks cool! I just finished building the PunJet. I have a feeling it may not last long and am already thinking of how to recycle my electronics. Sad, huh? :-)


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fdnyjery on October 27, 2015
SPONZ :Just found your article on using templates.. GREAT GREAT JOB. fdnyjery
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Hasi on January 13, 2016
Nica Article! How do you actually tile the plans and make the markings on the corners for lining up the sheets?
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COSkies on January 21, 2016
I am having a difficult time getting your plans to print properly. My home printer will not allow me to adjust the margins. As a result, I am losing the lower sections of each tile. The missing areas include the alignment marks as well as some of the actual drawings. This has happened with your Baby baron plans as well as the new FT Mini Arrow. I use a HP Deskjet 1055. Any ideas?
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SP0NZ on January 21, 2016
I'm really sorry to hear that you are having problems. I know how frustrating that can be. I'll help if I can.

First, make sure you are using the latest version of Adobe Reader (currently 11.0.14) to print the files. Never try printing these from your browser's PDF viewer. In the print dialog box use the following settings in the Page & Size Handling section:
-Custom Scale: 100%
-Uncheck option (Choose paper source by PDF page size)
-Orientation: Auto portrait/landscape (this option should center the output on the page)

The actual document is only 7.5" x 10.5" so you should not lose anything from the printer margins. I've never seen a printer with printer margins that large. Hope that helps. Good luck.
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COSkies on January 23, 2016
SPONZ, Thanks for your suggestions. I attempted the print again, no good. With my printer the margines simply interfere with your tiled plans. I was able to create my own tiled plans with the printer's "poster" setting. This printed everything, but used 8 more sheets of printer paper than your tiled plans. Happy to have the plans printed. Now I will build usi g your template techniques.
Thanks for your leadership!
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magic_marty on May 28, 2016
i was having the same problem my printer kept cutting off the bottom of the tiles.What i found that worked was setting the printer paper size to 8.5''x14'' and using legal size paper worked, i think the printer sees the bottom edge of the paper then stops printing but with longer sheets it finishes the whole tile..

SPONZ, Thanks for the article i was racking my brain on how to get the plans transferred to the foam board now going to get some poster board and make the templates..

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Skeeball on February 15, 2018
I had a similar problem printing (coping) Federal and State Income Tax Forms using an HP All-In-One printer, copier, fax, don’t remember the model number. It came from Best Buy so back I went with it. The Geeks at BB and I we tried placing lines to the edge of pieces of paper and the Fed tax forms, they could not argument that the printing was too close to the edge. All HP machines we tried failed. The Geeks were shocked too. How did HP not test and know that?
However, Brother machines worked so I now have a Brother MCF-J835DW. So far it hasn’t missed printing to very close to the edges. When I go to replace this printer I’ll take a sheet of paper, place a 45 degree or so diagional line about half-inch form each of the 4 corners and make sure it can copy to the edges and/or who copies closes to the edges.
Oh, going through the thread haven’t ran across it so far so . . .
Instead of using pins to hold down the plans, templates or whatever you are holding down in this process I have starting using the “blue” painters tape. I have heard the blue has less tacking the the standard light brown masking time. This way I can have several tape-down points, always two in place so there is no movement until finished with that part of the plan.
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The Flying Wasp on December 31, 2016
Hey SP0NZ

Another great article. Will definitely use this info for future scratch builds. Now off to build a plane.
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AKVN on July 17, 2017
What kind of paper should I print? A4 or A3 ? Please answer!
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SP0NZ on July 18, 2017
@AKVN,

It depends a little on what plans you are trying to print. I have recently added an additional tile size to the plans for people with access to larger printers. For the standard size tiled plans (A Size) you will want to print on A4 (210 x 297) paper. Hope that helps.
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muench.david23@gmail.com on September 16, 2018
Hello Sponz,
Thank you for taking the time to guide me, a "newb", to this awesome hobby and using templates. You, and the guys at Flitetest are really a great group of people. I am a principal and I run an afterschool group of students called "The Innovators" and this year's project is principles of flight. This article really helped me visualize how to teach them to use the templates properly. I don't think I could have gotten this year's project off the ground without Flitetest and yourself. So I wanted to thank you for taking the time to put this article together.
Dave
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Tak on September 23, 2018
What are the foam board dimensions? (mainly thickness).
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SP0NZ on September 23, 2018
Typically, the foam board we use here is what you would find at Dollar Tree. It's made by ADAMS. The dimensions are 20 x 30 inches and it is 3/16 (.188) inches (4.8 mm) thick. Flite Test also worked with ADAMS to develop a new foam board that is more resistant to moisture and humidity and is much easier to paint. The Flite Test water resistant foam can be purchased on the FT Store online. Or you can also check your local HobbyTown store if you have one near you. If they don't have it in the sore, as the manager if they can order it. Hope that helps, happy building.
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Eeck62 on September 25, 2018
Sponz,
Thank you so much! Such a great article which really made it easier for me and I am sure others. I keep links to the plans index, how to print plans article, and this template article together as my guidance for new folks. Awesome!
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SP0NZ on September 25, 2018
@Eeck62,

You are most welcome. Thanks for the kind words. And thank you for helping point new people in the right direction to get started with scratch building.
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DIY Poster Board Templates