Are your family photos overflowing the album? Maybe you just haven’t gotten around to framing them yet.
Having a plethora of photos lying around isn’t exactly the worst problem to have. But buying picture frames can get expensive, not to mention slightly boring. After all, you don’t want your treasured pictures to be housed in just any old frame — you want something snazzy.
That’s why you should make one yourself. You’ll get creative license to use whatever type of materials you want, and making a frame is easier than you might think it is.
But how do you get started on something like that?
You don’t have to be a master carpenter to make a masterful picture frame.
Luckily, we’ve created this guide just for you. Now, you can learn how to make a picture frame in a few simple steps, without breaking the bank (or any fingers) in the process.
How To Make A Picture Frame: What You'll Need
There are a whole lot of ways to make a picture frame. Unfortunately, many of them involve lots of complicated tools. Don’t sweat it. This is a DIY project which is accessible to everyone, and as such, you won’t need to buy anything fancy.
Here’s what you will need:
Though you can make a picture frame out of pretty much anything, wood is a popular choice to start with. That’s because you can do anything you like with wood. It’s a durable and sturdy material, and once you finish, you have a clean slate to decorate any way you want. You’ll want to choose soft wood that’s easy to work with yet durable enough to last a lifetime.
Choosing something like >pine board is a good idea. This wood will provide a sturdy frame without being too hard on your tools (or your patience). You can cut the board down to the width you want your picture frame to be, or you can buy it pre-cut. A width of 1 inch is good to start with, but it’s about your preference.
It doesn’t matter how long the wood is because you’ll cut it anyway. It shouldn’t be thicker than an inch or so.
Wood Glue And Back Mat
Get a good wood glue to hold your picture frame together. The glue should be relatively cheap. Choose something like Elmer's Carpenter Interior Wood Glue. You can pick up a bottle in any hardware store or online for less than $4, and you’ll be able to use it for multiple frames if you take a shine to the project.
You’ll also want to have a black or colored mat as “backing” to place the picture on. The mat not only provides an aesthetically pleasing border, but it strengthens the whole setup.
You can buy precut mats online specifically for your photo size. The mat is the part of the frame which will determine how you cut your wood, not the size of your picture.
Saw, Hammer, And Nails
These are things you may already have lying around from previous home projects. Amiter saw works best for measuring angles. If you don’t have one, don’t worry. You can measure your angles with your kids’ old protractor.
The nails you have may or may not fit your needs, depending on the size of the picture frame you want to build. Keep in mind that framing a normal-sized 4 x 6-inch picture will require small, delicate nails. A larger picture frame will require larger nails.
How To Make A Picture Frame: 5 Steps To Perfections
Once you have your materials, it’s time to put them together to make your frame. Follow these simple steps to get to picture-frame perfection in no time flat.
1. Take Your Measurements And Cut Your Wood
Measure the dimensions of your backing before you cut your wood. Remember, the back matting is what you will mount your picture on, so it will be the base from which you determine how to cut your wood.
Image Source: Timber Source
For example, say your picture is a standard 4 x 6. Get back matting which is larger than your picture. Say, 5.5 x 7.5. That way, you can cut your wood pieces to be exactly 5 inches on the inside edge, and two of them to be 7 inches long on the inside edge.
By making the inside edges of your wood pieces just half an inch (or a quarter inch, if you’re so inclined) smaller than your back matting, you ensure that you have some wood to glue the backing onto when you’re done. The outside edges are still large enough so that none of your matting is visible from the front of the finished product.
Mark these measurements on the wood. Now it’s time to angle the wood. If you do have a miter saw, you can use the tool to make a 45-degree cut. If you don’t, you can measure the angle by hand. Mark the measurements. Then, draw a diagonal line along the edge of your markings upwards at a 45-degree angle.
The length of the diagonal cut should be double the width of the wood used. For example, if you’re working with wood which has a width of 1 inch, you’ll make the 45-degree angled cut 2 inches.
In the end, you’ll have all the pieces of your picture-frame puzzle ready to be assembled.
2. Put The Frame Together
After you make your cuts, you will have 2 shorter pieces of frame, and two longer pieces. The two long pieces will run parallel to each other, as will the two short pieces. If the angles are cut well, they will fit together perfectly at the angled edge. If they don’t fit together perfectly, just sand them down until they do.
Image Source: Framing 4 Yourself
Then, cover the edges of the angled edges of the wood with your wood glue. Gently press them all together, wiping off any excess glue which squeezes out of the joint.
Keep in mind that carpenter’s glue takes an extremely long time to dry properly. You don’t want to mess around with your frame until the glue is completely set, or you run the risk of breaking your frame before you’ve even gotten to enjoy it.
Leave it24 hours to be sure. After that, you can reinforce your picture frame with nails. This part is necessary to create something truly strong and durable.
Hammer in four nails, one at each corner of the frame. The nail should pass through both pieces of wood along that edge, helping to strengthen the frame and hold it together. Alternately, you can use a corner brace and screws. This is an L-shaped piece of metal which you’ll lay on the back side of the frame, overlapping the two pieces of wood at the corners.
You’ll screw the screws in, one or two on each side of the L. Using four corner braces (one at each corner) will keep the picture frame together quite well.
At this stage, you can go ahead and install a sawtooth picture hanger if you’ll be hanging your picture on the wall. Screw in this jagged piece of metal to the back center of the frame so you can hang it with string when the time is right.
3. Decorate To Your H
Image Source: Mod Podge Rocks
Once you have a frame which holds up well, it’s time to decorate! There are a million things you can do with a picture frame. Consider it your empty canvas.
4. Put The Backing And The Picture In The Frame
Image Source: ILevel
When thinking about how to make a picture frame, not many consider the backing. However, this is an essential part of a professional-looking frame. Since you’ve had the backing in mind since stage one, all you need to do is mount it in your frame and attach the picture.
- First, attach the picture to the back matting. You can use glue or double-sided tape to achieve this, and you’ll have your picture nicely framed by the mat.
- Then, you’ll need to place the frame face-down on your workspace. Place double-sided tape or glue around the inner edges of the frame on the back.
- You’ll place the back-matting photo-side down on top of the upside-down frame, so that the photo will be visible when looking directly at the frame.
- Press gently around the edges of the matting, helping the glue to set and preventing any bubbles. Allow it to dry completely before touching it.
Now it’s time to hang your picture frame. When guests ask you about it, you’ll be able to say proudly that you made it yourself.
How To Make A Picture Frame: Enjoy Your New DIY Lifestyle
Image Source: Bob Vila
If you loved this project, check out some other DIY picture frame tutorials. Once you know how to make a picture frame, it will be all but impossible to switch back to store-bought frames.
So, go ahead. Get those hands dirty because the end result is well worth the effort.