How to Make a Simple Wood Frame

How to Make a Simple Wood Frame main article image
Posted on September 28, 2021 by Jennifer Carroll
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Did you ever come across a piece of art that you just had to have? Or have you created something you’d love to display in a frame, but it’s not a standard size? I’ve had both experiences. Over the last few years, I’ve learned that I can make my own simple wood frame. If I can, then you can too! And it doesn’t require any fancy tools or expensive equipment.

I love the simplicity of wood and I love for my pieces to have a high-end, finished look. Last year, I finished two pieces of artwork and I wanted to see how they would look on stretched canvas. I liked the look, but it just didn’t look finished. I checked out Hobby Lobby and a few other places that do custom framing. It’s expensive to have a frame made! The frames that were made for canvases were bulky and they were more money than I wanted to pay. I knew I could make what I wanted for just a few dollars.

I decided I wanted something low profile that would just cover the edge of the canvas. These were a gallery finish so the edges were deeper than a standard stretched canvas. I chose a couple of slats that were about an inch and a quarter wide. They were less than a dollar apiece. I also purchased a miter box kit because I didn’t have one at the time and I knew I could complete the job with this simple tool. They’re between $15-$25 and you can pick one up at your local hardware store. Amazon carries them too if you like the convenience of shopping from home. A miter box comes with a handsaw that you can use to complete a lot of projects. It looks like this and if you don’t have one you might want to add it to your list of must-haves.

First, I measured my pictures to see how I needed to mark by boards to make the cuts. I had a picture that was 11”x14” and one that was 16”x20”. Since I wanted the thin edge to show, I cut through the thick side using the slot on my miter box for a 45-degree angle. After I had all my pieces cut, I stained them with the color that I wanted for each frame. I set them aside to dry overnight.

To assemble the frame around my picture, I fit the slats around one at a time, using my brad nailer to fasten the slats to the frame of the canvas. These went together really fast, and I love the way they finished my pictures. The best part is they cost less than a dollar to make.

If you’re not sure you want to try mitered corners you can make a more rustic frame. I recently bought a frame I really liked, and I wanted to make a few of my own. I knew I had the materials on hand and that it would be simple to make. It was convenient that I also had a piece of art that needed just this kind of frame.

I’m always on the lookout for sign faces or shelf sitter-type signs to transfer my work onto. I had created a piece I wasn’t quite happy with, and I thought this type of frame would finish it out perfectly.

To cut my pieces I first measured the width of my sign face and cut a piece for the top and bottom. To cut my side pieces, I measured the height of my sign face including the frame pieces I just cut. I want the sides to butt up to each other, so the two side pieces need to be longer than the actual sign face. If you look at the picture, you’ll be able to see what I mean. I used 1”x2” boards that I find at Home Depot on their 70%-off cart. It’s a cheap way to buy lumber. I stop in a couple of times a week to see what I can find and I’m never disappointed.

I decided to stain these boards with my favorite stain from Home Depot. It’s a gel stain and I find it on the “oops” rack for fifty cents. I pick up a few cans every time I see it. Since I craft for a living, I like to keep my workshop stocked with things that I use on a regular basis. To me, it’s like not having all the ingredients on hand before I start a recipe.

Sorry, I chased a rabbit there. After the stain had dried, I was ready to assemble my frame. I attached the top and bottom pieces first, using my brad nailer to attach the frame pieces directly to the top and bottom of the sign. Then I attach the side pieces. I loved the way that this frames out my picture with a rustic look.


I could have attached a sawtooth hanger and made it a wall hanging, but you know I’m extra. I decided to make it a shelf sitter. I did this just by adding a wider piece of wood to the bottom of the frame. I cut a length of 1”x3” board and stained it the same color as my frame. When it was all dry I added it to the bottom of my frame, using my bard nailer again. I use Ryobi tools because they’re so convenient. The batteries are interchangeable and fairly inexpensive. If you set the velocity on high, it actually recesses the nail head. It makes my projects come together quickly and I need that in my life!

The next time you consider a piece of art that needs a frame, just make it yourself. It’s a great way to add the perfect custom touch to your home décor. You can do it! Until next time – happy crafting.

Please visit me here to see my latest creations!

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