Watch This Project: DIY Picture Frames
Even readers have asked, “Hey! Do you have a tutorial on making DIY picture frames??”
I was a little hesitant to make picture frames because of the “complicated power tools” I would have had to pull out.
It’s not that I don’t have those tools, but not many of my readers do (or they’re intimidated by tools).
So on a recent trip to the home improvement store, I discovered–GASP!–you can easily buy ready-made picture frame wood!
Forget pulling out the intimidating tools…
Now we can easily frame anything (pictures, bathroom mirrors, printables–you name it) with our own picture frames, no matter how big or small!
Materials Needed to Make DIY Picture Frames
In fact, the only tools and materials you need are:
(The following links may include affiliate links where I’ll earn a commission at no cost to you if you purchase them. This actually helps to support this blog, so thank you!!)
- “Picture frame” molding (check out the selection on Amazon)
- Miter box with hand saw (sold as a set)
- Wood glue
- Heavy-duty stapler
- Light-duty stapler or small nails for holding in the picture/cardboard
- Sawtooth picture hangers
- Piece of cardboard (cut from a cardboard box)
- 150-grit sandpaper
Picture Frame Molding is GENIUS!
I know that picture frame molding wasn’t invented, like, yesterday. 🙂
But since I have always bought frames from the thrift store and have never tried to make my own DIY picture frames, I had no idea it even existed!
Typically, when making your own picture frames, you need a router (or a table saw) to create this groove called a rabbet (sounds like “rabbit”).
But picture frame molding already comes routed with a rabbet cut (in various depths), so all you have to do is cut the molding at 45-degree angles and–VOILA!–you’ve got a picture frame.
Your local home improvement store likely only has a simple wood one like the one I’m using in this project.
Anyhow, instead of using a powerful miter saw power tool to cut the 45-degree angles, we’ll be using a hand-held miter box to do it.
No power tools! 🙂
How to Make DIY Picture Frames
Here are the simple steps for making your own picture frames.
STEP 1 – Set Up Your Miter Box
Even if you’ve got power tools, you’ll want to add a miter box to your DIY toolkit.
For about $10 or less (check this one out on Amazon), you can easily cut thin pieces of wood and molding without having to use power tools.
Of course, a miter saw is much easier, but not everyone has a big ‘ole power tool accessible to them, right? Or even the space to house it. A miter box can easily be tucked away, though.
Plus, sometimes it’s easier to use a miter box for a quick and easy little cut.
So a miter box is a great addition.
This is how the saw rests inside the slots of the miter box, giving you perfectly angled cuts.
Before you begin cutting, though, tightly clamp the miter box to a tabletop that’s sturdy–maybe a dining room table, a sturdy workstation, etc.
Be sure the clamps don’t get in the way of the wood, though.
Place the picture frame molding against the miter box.
There are three ways you can cut wood with a miter box:
Position #1 – Cut the wood at a straight 90-degree.
Position #2 – Cut the wood at 45-degrees THIS way….
Position #3 – Cut the wood at 45-degrees THAT way….
The first cut is usually at 45 degrees (as shown on the left side of the wood below).
With this cut, we’ll be able to measure how wide we need to make the DIY picture frames.
STEP 2: Measure How Wide to Cut Your DIY Picture Frame
For this project, I planned to frame the COIT Cleaning Checklist for my kids to use to earn points towards an allowance.
After coming back from the financial bloggers conference and realizing how important it is to teach my kids the value of money and allowance, this checklist was very timely when COIT offered to sponsor this tutorial. Thanks, COIT!
Download the free COIT customizable checklist here, or get more checklists on their website.
(One viewer on Youtube had a great suggestion to laminate the cleaning checklist so that I can reuse it over and over again without having to print new ones or without removing it from the frame. Love that idea!).
After I printed out the checklist and trimmed it to the size I wanted, I simply placed it on the picture frame, lining up the left side, and then marking the width on the right side.
No measuring tape needed. 🙂
When cutting the right side of the picture frame molding with the miter box, line up this marked line…..
….with the edge of where the blade will cut.
STEP 3: Cut the Right Side of the Picture Frame
At that point, I was then ready to cut the other 45-degree angle.
This was the top piece of the picture frame.
NOTE: Since the picture frame molding can be a bit long, be sure to have someone support the longer side if you don’t have a long table to support it. Otherwise, it may chip off like mine did when I sawed through it.
Since my picture cleaning checklist was a bit rectangular, the top and bottom were the same, and I re-measured to make the sides.
STEP 4: Cut and Glue the Pieces of the DIY Picture Frame
At this point, you should have all the pieces of the picture frame cut out.
If you’re cutting something square, all 4 pieces will be the same length.
You’re now ready to glue them together and then clamp them to dry.
STEP 6: Cut Out a Piece of Cardboard
I don’t know about you, but I get so many packages in the mail that it shouldn’t be a problem to find a spare box lying around from which to cut a piece of backing for your DIY picture frame!
Using the checklist, I traced its shape, then cut it out with a utility knife.
It was a perfect fit! 🙂
STEP 7: Staple the DIY Picture Frame Together
Once the picture frame has had time to dry, remove the clamps and turn it over.
Use a stapler (I’m using this heavy duty stapler) to staple the frame together at the corners for extra reinforcement.
STEP 8: Attach Picture Hangers
I like the sawtooth picture hangers (they’re less expensive) because they’re very forgiving, even if you don’t center them exactly.
They’re super easy to attach with a hammer on the back.
Remember to place one on the top and on the side, in case you decide to later use your DIY picture frame in a different orientation later! 🙂
STEP 9: Sand Smooth
Using 150-grit sandpaper, sand the custom picture frame, paying particular attention to the corners where it can be a little sharp.
NOTE: If you got glue on the wood and didn’t wipe it off properly, be sure to sand it off if you can. Otherwise, if you apply wood stain over glue, it will leave blotchy spots! Just a helpful tip. 🙂
STEP 10: Use a Light-Duty Stapler to Secure the Picture and Cardboard
For this project, I didn’t get glass cut, but you can easily head to a local hardware store (check your local listings for who offers this service; not every home improvement store does).
I’m did end up laminating my checklist so that I can reuse it over and over without having to remove the back.
To secure the back, I used a light-duty stapler to staple into the edge of the wood in the back, which was enough to hold the cardboard and checklist inside.
The Final DIY Picture Frame!
I couldn’t believe it was so easy to make! All those pieces of artwork that hubby has stashed in the closet can now be framed.
I’m not a professional framer so who knows if I’ll stretch it properly, but this would be a pretty good DIY solution for framing!
You can leave it natural, like this…
…or you can paint it like I did, laminate your checklist or printable, add a couple layers of paint, lightly distress it, and there ya go! 🙂
(I used a layer of white on the frame, covered with a second coat of light blue, then lightly distressed the DIY picture frame).
Be sure to download your own customizable checklist! Why not make this easy picture frame to keep it, too!
Here’s a quick video to show you how to customize the checklist:
Watch Now: How to Customize the Cleaning Checklist
And you can frame pretty much anything, including favorite pictures!
It Cheaper to Make Your Own Frames?
Picture frame molding can be expensive. The piece I bought was $12 and I had enough for this frame with a little left over for a smaller frame. A bit pricey, yes.
If you have common-shaped items (e.g. 4×6, 5×7, 8×10), then by all means, go buy picture frames from the thrift store.
But if you have odd-shaped items for which it would be too expensive to order custom frames, just make your own this way!
Or maybe you’re looking to frame a builder’s grade bathroom mirror. This would totally work, too!
Also, if it would be super expensive to frame pieces of art (like hubby’s paintings, which are also odd-shaped), then DIY frames are the way to go.
Have you ever made your own DIY picture frames? How did they turn out?
Leave a comment below and let’s talk picture frames!