Picture Frames

Over the past few years, the weathered, barnwood style picture frames have really caught my eye (I’ve even bought some of the fake ones at Hobby Lobby).  I decided I wanted to make these, but I didn’t have the tools, supplies, or knowledge that I needed.  

After doing a little research, I found that some people use old pallet wood to make these kind of frames.  The next day on my normal route home, I spotted a big throw away pile of wood pallets on the street in front of a local nursery!  This project was meant to be!  After double-checking with the owner that these pallets were in fact meant to be given away, I loaded as many as would fit in the back of my SUV.

Taking apart the pallets proved to be little harder than expected, but on the plus side, it was a great back and arm workout!  First, I tried prying the nails out with the back of a hammer.  No such luck – the nails were sunk down into the wood.  Next, I tried a combination of banging with a mallet and prying the wood itself with the back of the hammer.

This worked well enough, but I did end up splitting the wood most of the time.

Next time, I will use my newly aquired pry bar.

Step 1:  Find or buy some old barn or pallet wood (you could use new wood also and do some faux weathering).

Also, I found through my googling that you could make the 45 degree angles needed with a hand saw and a mitre box.  I sent an email to my dad (an experienced woodworking hobbyist), asking him if he knew anything about making a mitre box and if maybe he could show me a few things and give me a few woodworking tips.  Growing up, he would always have me help him make doghouses, birdhouses, and coat racks, but I felt like I had forgotten much of the process.  To my surprise, my generous dad just gave me his electric mitre saw!  This would make the cutting process much easier!

After my dad and brother sufficiently scared me about cutting off fingers and shrapnel flying into eyeballs, I implemented my own rule – a chant to say before each cut.  Glasses check – CHECK! Hand check – CHECK!  It’s become kind of fun to say, like I’m in the military.  I also implemented a NO SAWING AFTER DRINKING RULE…not even one sip of wine. I don’t like blood and pain, and I do like my fingers and sight.

Step 2: Cut 4 pieces with 45 degree angles on each end.  

I measured the short end of each piece at ¼ inch less than the picture size I’m aiming for.  So, for a 4 x 6 frame, I’m cutting the inside lines at 3 ¾ inch by 5 ¾ inch.  This is because the picture will need a lip to hold it in place.  The best way to make this lip is to use a router.  However, I do not have a router and do not want to invest the money right now.  Maybe one will show up for free on the side of the road like the wood.  Until then, I’m going to cheat and use extra little strips of wood to create the lip.

I lined up the cut pieces to make sure the pieces fit together.  It’s starting to look like a frame!

Step 3:  Glue frame pieces together, making sure they are square.

There are different ways to squarely assemble the frame.  You can use a special four corner framing clamp, construct a squared block to build the frame around, or probably a ton of other more correct woodworking techniques that I have not learned.  Or you can use the method I used – using my stained glass squaring block, a squaring ruler, and two nails.

Note:  I did order a four corner framing clamp from Home Depot for about $30, but it was really made for frames 5×7 or larger.  I think I can rig it to make smaller frames, but I was too anxious to finish this frame to figure that out.

I glued the pieces together with wood glue, again checking my squareness (not sure if that is a correct woodworking term), and let it dry overnight.  The next day, I did use a staple gun on each seam to further secure the frame, but I’m not sure that this was necessary.

Step 4:  Paint!

Now, the fun part!  I did a base coat of red paint (a sample container left over from painting my entryway.  After this dried, I added a coat of turquoise paint (another sample).  After drying, I lightly sanded the edges of the frame to give the paint a more weathered look.

Since I have never been very good at drawing, I figured that drawing a bike directly onto the frame may be a little difficult for me.  So, I drew the bike on cardstock and made a stencil using an exacto knife.  This may seem like a lot of work, but it will be a time saver if I end up making multiples of this designs on frames, key holders, etc.

My first finished picture frame!

While I was at it, I made a second frame.


So, what do you think?


7 thoughts on “Picture Frames

  1. This is awesome Lauren! The picture frames look great! I hope to have my own place next month and then I can start decorating with all your new crafty stuff!!

  2. Pingback: Take Me Home To DIY Projects « It Just Dawned On Me

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