Picture frames are the perfect home decor item to build for a woodworker with any range of experience. I used to make them when I first started because it helped me get a comfort level with my different tools, cutting at angles, and precise measuring. As you grow as a woodworker, you can add fun features like inlays to match your skill level, hand carvings, really whatever you can imagine! Frames are also great way to experiment with different finish styles and make great gifts for all your friends and family!
The other nice feature of homemade frames is that they can be customized to fit the decorating style of your home, without spending a fortune on per-fabricated frames! This means you can change the shape, finish, and size of the frame to match your needs! For this post we used red oak and gave it an aged finish, almost like a mock reclaimed barn wood look.
- .75″ x 1.5″ Red Oak Boards
- Picture Frame Glass or Acrylic
- Picture Mats and Backers
- Wood Glue
- Painter’s Tape
- Picture Frame Turn Buttons
- Rust-oleum Weathered Gray Wood Stain & Polyurethane
- Paint Brush
- Turn Buttons
- Saw-tooth Hangers
- V Nails
- 1/2″ Rabbet Router Bit
- 4 Way Corner Clamp
- (2) Bar Clamps
- Miter Saw
- Drill Wire Brush
- Steel Drill Brush
- Speed Square
- Painter’s Pyramids
- Needle Nose Pliers
- Applicable Safety Equipment
Let’s Do This!
The first step for making these simple yet beautiful frames is to cut the inset that your framing materials (glass/acrylic, mat, and backer board) are going to sit on. To do this you need to measure the depth of those pieces together. For our materials it was 1/4″ but this could vary based on what kind of materials you are using. The inset is going to be created with a 1/2″ rabbeting router bit, giving you a perfect area for your picture to sit in. To make this inset, set your router bit at 1/8″ depth and make the first pass of our wood, then reset depth to 1/4″ and run wood through again. This will help prevent any chipping of your wood, plus help reduce unnecessary strain on your router bits and motor.
On you have the inset made, you want to add the texture to the wood. To do this all you need to do is clamp your wood down to your workbench. Take a drill equipped with the steel brush attachment and run the attachment over the wood until you get the desired texture. You want to do this to every side except the back of the frame. I primarily will run the attachment at a 45° to the wood, helping the bristles work into the grain of the wood but I will also do small sections flush with the attachment to get different textures, giving it a more authentic aged look.
Once the wood has the worn look you want, it’s time to start cutting your pieces down to size. Set your miter saw at 45° and with the inset facing away from you, cut off the corner of the board. Once that’s done you want to measure the exact dimensions of your framing material (don’t trust that that package dimensions are exact) and on the top of the inset measure that amount, adding 1/8″. This is where you want to make your cut. Do this for the one long piece and one side piece.
At this point you want to line your two pieces up at the corner and check with a speed square to make sure your angle is exactly 90°. Once that’s done fit in your framing material to make sure it fits properly, with an extra 1/8″. Once that is confirmed use the pre-cut pieces to measure the other two sides, this will make sure your sides are identical in size. If your sides are off even an 1/16″ from each other your corners will not line up properly even if your angles are perfect.
Once all your sides are cut it’s time to add the glue. To do this you need wood glue, a brush, painter’s tape, and a 4 way corner clamp. Start by adding a small amount of glue to the end cuts of the sides. This will help seal the edges and create more secure corners. Then simply lay frame on a piece of painter’s tape, add glue, then secure corners with tape that goes across each corner (both front and back). Repeat this process for all the corners and let dry. Then add the 4 way corner clamp and tighten, wiping off any excess glue. Let dry before moving on to the next step.
Once glue is dry, remove all the tape. If any of your corners have dried glue residue, use drill with steel brush attachment to grind it off. You don’t want to have any residue because it will impact the color of the wood when stained. Add weathering stain to frame on all sides, resting the back of the frame on painter’s pyramids until dry. You want to apply a liberal amount of stain ensure it seeps into the groves. Let the stain sit for 3-4 minutes, wiping off any excess. Let dry.
Once dry, the only thing left is to add the hardware to the frame. This will include V nails, turn buttons, and saw-tooth hangers. Start with V nails, which will help secure the corners so that they don’t weaken over time. Simply take the V nails and line up on the corner of the frame (on the back) and while holding in place with pliers, then hammer in place. Repeat for all the corners.
Then, using a straight edge ruler, measure the half way point on the insets. Mark with small dot on all four sides. This will be where you will screw in the turn buttons, about 1/4″ from the inset edge. Add framing materials and screw in turn buttons, securing the framing material inside the frame. Now add the saw-tooth hanger to top of the frame, making sure to measure the half way point so the frame sits level when hung.
That’s it, you are all done and have an amazing picture frame! The method for creating the picture frame works with any style or size so feel free to experiment with different finishes and sizes to match your home’s decor.
Disclaimer: Please make sure with all your projects that you have read your equipment’s safety manual and are following the recommended safety precautions. We are not responsible for the results of your DIY projects as results can vary based on your skill level, quality of materials, and age of your equipment.