How To Make A Picture Frame: A Simple Guide

What is the definition of art? Critics and philosophers can discuss the topic indefinitely, but we believe the answer is simple: if it has a frame around it, it’s art! Making your own picture frames can be simple and gratifying, whether you want something unique and artistic or simply need to use basic frames for small pictures.

Gold vintage picture frame on wooden table

Beginner woodworkers will certainly enjoy this project as it is straightforward and will save you loads of money. It’s much easier than making your own table, or wine rack. You can make the best frame in a weekend, and you will just need few basic tools. We will show you how to do exactly that and how to add some finishing touches for a smooth frame.

Measure and create a plan

Calculate the size of your mat before you start making the frame. A mat is a basic paper or cardboard border that surrounds a photograph within a frame. Your picture and frame will look more professional and polished if you use a mat. 

It will also make the image more visible. Determine how broad you want the mat to be before you start measuring your material. Measure the picture after you’ve decided on the mat width. Double that width and multiply by the length and width of the photo. 

The mat’s inner edges will be the same size or slightly smaller than the framed image. After you’ve marked your measurements, cut the mat’s outer edges to match the measurements you took. Use a ruler to outline the areas where you’ll be cutting

But, before cutting, you should also use an angle to ensure that your corners are even. If you want the mat to slightly overhang the image, subtract a little amount from the original measurements. Now, consider the following woodworking tips in your plan:

1. Wood shape

Either moulding or plain timber can be used for such DIY projects. Moulding gives a more elaborate, finished effect to images and interior designs, and is best suited to larger or more traditional pictures and portraits.
Plain timber has a cleaner, more simplistic appearance and is best suited for smaller, more modern imagery and interior designs.

Wooden frames

2. Wood type

You must also choose the sort of wood you want to use. Many kinds of wood, especially hardwoods, are excellent for this project, so it is all a matter of personal preference

It might be easier to use the same sort of wood as other items in the room where the frame will be hung. This will make the frame match with the rest of the home decor.

3. Metal

If you want to make your frame out of metal rather than wood, you will be following the same steps, but you will just need to cut the metal with a circular saw with a diamond tip blade. 

Simply attach the frame with metal L-corners and matching screws, drilling holes for the screws first with a power drill.

4. Glue

The best method is to use wood glue. If it is unavailable, other glues can be used, although it is recommended to use the glue created for this purpose. Wood glue is inexpensive and commonly found in hardware and craft stores

5. Nails

The nails needed in this woodworking project will be determined in part by the size of the frame. Large and thick frames will necessitate longer, thicker nails. 

Smaller frames will require thinner, shorter nails. Use the proper ones to keep the wood in place and prevent it from splitting.

How to make your picture frame step-by-step

Follow these steps no matter what type of wood you wish to use in your picture framing:

1. Measure the frame’s dimensions and then cut it

  • Calculate the length and width of the mat’s outer edge. These will be the required dimensions for the frame’s interior edges. Cut the frame according to the formula’s measurements. 
  • It’s a good idea to recall the ancient adage “measure twice, cut once.” It’s critical to be precise since any differences in the measurements of the wood components can cause the frame to fit together unevenly or potentially fall to pieces.
  • After you’ve made the initial cut, slant the ends to fit the pieces of wood together. Cut the angles so that they all point in the same direction, with one edge being shorter than the other. 
  • You can cut the angle with a table saw, or a mitre saw set at a 45-degree angle or by hand-marking it and cutting it with a handsaw.

Materials for making a picture frame

2. Make a rebate for the frame

  • You can do this by carving into the back of the frame, inside edges or by making a narrower frame and attaching it to the back of the first. 
  • This secondary frame should be larger in width and length to accept a piece of glass that is too large to fit through the frame’s opening. It will also prevent the glass from falling through the opening. 
  • Make sure the rebate is deep enough to hold the glass, mat, and nails that will be used to hold the whole thing in place.

3. Colour the frame

  • You might want to personalise your frame to better complement the environment in which it will be displayed or highlight a feature of the photo or picture you’ll show inside it.
  • You can paint or stain the wood before putting the glass, image, and mat in place. It’s entirely up to you what hue each one is.

4. Put it now altogether

  • Assemble the pieces into a square or rectangle by putting them together like a puzzle. Make any required adjustments, but keep in mind that too many changes to the angles will result in the wooden frame fitting unevenly. 
  • To begin, glue the frame together and secure it using clamps and angles. You’ll want to make sure the angles dry properly
  • After the glue has dried, hammer a nail into each of the four mitred corners to hold the pieces together and give them a good sanding to remove any remaining glue.
  • The nails should be driven into one side of the frame, passing through one piece of wood and into the next, as close to the wood’s midway as possible. They should also be perpendicular to the joint’s line. Then, fill up any gaps you might have with wood filler.

5. Place the glass in place

  • The glass will have to be specially cut to meet the rebate’s dimensions. You can do it yourself, but it will almost certainly be easier and less expensive to go to a glass shop or hardware store and have it done properly, as cutting glass securely requires certain tools and abilities. 
  • It is not necessary to use genuine glass. Plexiglas or any other clear plastic will serve the purpose. These materials may not be as attractive, but they are less likely to shatter or break if the photo frame falls.

Hands men finishing a picture frame

6. Final step 

  • Finally, place the photograph and mat into the frame with the frame facing down and add a sawtooth picture hanger on the reverse side. 
  • Use glazier’s points or nails parallel to the mat to retain the image, mat, and glass in the frame once it’s been centred. 

Add finishing touches

Now you may start thinking about how you want to decorate the frame and where you want to hang it. You can add embellishments to your DIY picture frame to make it even more beautiful. For a more traditional look, you may use gold paint to add an artistic touch.

Another option would be glueing little things on the frame, such as seashells or buttons. This is a fantastic method to match the frame’s motif to the picture it holds. Use adhesive craft glue to adhere pieces of old broken jewellery to the frame. 

You can attach them to different parts of the frame, or combine them to make a complex design, whether you have a cute flower that broke off a ring, a pendant from a broken necklace, or simply one lovely earring with an eye-catching design.

You can also frame the photo inside a page from a noteworthy book or newspaper article. To do so, trace the mat onto the back of the sheet and cut it out. After that, trace the photo in the centre and cut out about 0.5 cm from the photo’s outline to keep the edges from showing. Then, just flip the sheet over, lay the photo under the mat, and secure the frame with a clip. You can laminate the article frame first for added durability. Also, consider adding a stamp to the frame. If you’ve painted the frame white or a light colour, this is ideal because the stamp will stand out and contrast with the frame.

Finally, to hang your wood picture frame in an artistic way, you can tie a string across the back, made of metal or another strong material. This can be attached by placing one peg or nail on each side of the back of the frame and attaching the string at each end. 

Another alternative for hanging is to attach a hook to the item, which can then be hung on a nail in the desired location.

Wooden picture frame with red buttons in the background

Congratulations! You have now built your own DIY masterpiece with this simple tutorial. You can now proudly personalise your home and even do a makeover by showing off your great photos!  

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