Creating Wooden Picture Frames: Displaying Your Art with Elegance

Creating Wooden Picture Frames: Displaying Your Art with Elegance

Creating wooden picture frames is a rewarding and practical way to display your artwork. Whether you are a professional artist looking to add a personal touch to your creations or an amateur photographer wanting to showcase your favorite images, building your own frames allows you to customize the size, style, and finish to perfectly complement your art.

In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of creating wooden picture frames from start to finish. From selecting the right type of wood and measuring your artwork to cutting, assembling, and finishing the frame, we will cover all the essential steps to help you create beautiful frames that will enhance the beauty of your art.

To begin, it’s important to choose the right type of wood for your frames. Hardwoods like oak, walnut, or cherry are popular choices for their durability and attractive grain patterns. Softwoods like pine or cedar can also work well, especially if you want a lighter and more affordable option. Consider the style and aesthetic of your art when selecting the wood, as different species can complement different types of artwork.

Once you have chosen your wood, you will need to measure your artwork to determine the dimensions for your frame. It’s important to leave a margin of at least 1/4 inch around the edges to ensure that the artwork fits securely within the frame. This margin will also allow for the insertion of a mat or spacer, if desired. Use a tape measure and a square to accurately measure and mark the dimensions on your wood.

Choosing the Right Wood

When it comes to creating wooden picture frames, choosing the right type of wood is crucial. The type of wood you select will not only affect the final look of the frame but also its durability and stability. Here are some factors to consider when choosing the right wood for your picture frames:

  1. Hardwood vs. Softwood: There are two main categories of wood: hardwood and softwood. Hardwoods, such as oak, maple, and walnut, are known for their density and durability. Softwoods, such as pine, cedar, and fir, are generally less dense and more prone to dents and scratches. Consider the level of durability you need for your picture frames when choosing between hardwood and softwood.
  2. Appearance: The choice of wood will greatly influence the appearance of the picture frame. Each type of wood has its own unique grain pattern, color, and texture. Oak, for example, can add a traditional and rustic look to your frames, while maple offers a more contemporary and sleek appearance. Consider the style and aesthetics you want to achieve when selecting the wood.
  3. Stability: Stability is essential for picture frames, as they need to support the weight of the artwork without warping or bending. Some types of wood, such as cherry or mahogany, are known for their stability and resistance to shrinking and swelling. Consider the stability of the wood to ensure your picture frames will stand the test of time.
  4. Sourcing: It’s important to consider the sustainability and sourcing of the wood you choose. Opt for wood that is responsibly sourced and harvested, such as wood from FSC-certified forests. This ensures that the wood is obtained through sustainable practices and helps protect the environment.

Once you have considered these factors, you can make an informed decision about the type of wood that will best suit your picture frames. Remember that different woods may require different tools and techniques for cutting, shaping, and finishing, so be sure to research and familiarize yourself with the specific characteristics of the wood you choose.

Measuring and Cutting the Frame

Before you start cutting the wood for your picture frame, you’ll need to measure the dimensions of the artwork or photo you intend to display. This will ensure that your frame fits perfectly.

Materials you’ll need:

  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Miter saw or a hand saw
  • Miter box (optional)

Step 1: Measure the artwork

Use a measuring tape to measure the height and width of your artwork or photo. Make sure to measure the actual artwork, not the existing frame if you have one. Write down these measurements so you can refer to them later.

Step 2: Calculate the frame dimensions

Add 2 inches (or more if desired) to each measurement to determine the dimensions for your frame. For example, if your artwork is 8 inches by 10 inches, your frame dimensions would be 10 inches by 12 inches.

Step 3: Mark the wood

Using a pencil, mark the dimensions of the frame on your wood. Ensure that the marks are accurate and straight. You can use a ruler or straight edge to help guide your lines.

Step 4: Cut the wood

Using a miter saw or a hand saw, carefully cut along the marked lines to create the four pieces of your frame. If you’re using a miter saw, adjust the angle to 45 degrees for each cut.

Step 5: Check the fit

After cutting the four pieces, check how they fit together at the corners. The ends should form perfect 90-degree angles. If not, you can use a sandpaper or a miter box to make slight adjustments until the pieces fit together snugly.

Congratulations! You have successfully measured and cut the wood for your picture frame. Now you’re ready to move on to the next step of the framing process.

Sanding and Smoothing the Edges

Once you have assembled the wooden picture frame, it is important to sand and smooth the edges to create a polished and professional look. This step helps to remove any roughness or imperfections in the wood, ensuring that the frame will be smooth to the touch and visually appealing.

Here are the steps to sand and smooth the edges of your wooden picture frame:

  1. Gather the necessary materials: To sand and smooth the edges, you will need sandpaper of various grits, sanding blocks or sanding sponges, a tack cloth, and a clean, dry cloth.
  2. Prepare the frame: Before you begin sanding, make sure to remove any excess glue or debris from the frame. Use a damp cloth or sponge to clean the surface if needed.
  3. Select the appropriate sandpaper: Start with a coarse grit sandpaper (around 80-120 grit) to remove any large bumps or rough areas on the edges. Then, gradually move to finer grits (around 220-320) for a smoother finish.
  4. Sand the edges: Using a sanding block or sanding sponge, hold the sandpaper firmly and gently move it along the edges of the frame in a smooth, back-and-forth motion. Be sure to sand all edges evenly to maintain a consistent look.
  5. Check for smoothness: After sanding, run your fingers along the edges of the frame to check for any rough spots or inconsistencies. If you come across any, continue sanding until the surface feels smooth and even.
  6. Clean the frame: Once you are satisfied with the smoothness of the edges, use a tack cloth or a clean, dry cloth to remove any sanding dust or particles from the frame. This will ensure that the frame is clean and ready for the finishing steps.

Remember to take your time and be patient during the sanding process. It may require multiple rounds of sanding with different grits to achieve the desired smoothness. By taking care in this step, you can enhance the overall appearance of your wooden picture frame and create a professional finish.

Assembling the Frame

Once you have cut all the pieces of wood to the correct sizes and sanded them smooth, it’s time to assemble the frame. Follow these steps to put the frame together:

  1. Start by laying out all the pieces of the frame on a flat surface.
  2. Take one of the shorter sides of the frame (the vertical pieces) and apply a thin layer of wood glue along the edge.
  3. Align one of the longer sides of the frame (the horizontal pieces) with the glued edge of the shorter side.
  4. Secure the two pieces together using clamps. Make sure the corners are aligned and the edges are flush.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 for the remaining shorter and longer sides of the frame.
  6. Allow the glue to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  7. Once the glue is completely dry, reinforce the corners of the frame with screws or nails for added stability.
  8. If desired, you can also add decorative corner brackets to further enhance the frame’s aesthetic.
  9. After securing all the corners, double-check that the frame is square and all the edges are aligned.
  10. Finish the assembly process by sanding any rough areas and applying a coat of wood finish or paint to protect the frame.

With the frame fully assembled, you can now insert the glass, artwork, and backing board to complete the picture frame. Hang it on the wall or display it on a table to showcase your artwork with elegance.

Adding Decorative Touches

Once you have assembled your wooden picture frame, you can add decorative touches to enhance its overall look. Here are a few ideas:

  • Paint: One of the simplest ways to add a decorative touch to your picture frame is by painting it. Choose a color that complements your artwork or matches the decor of the room where it will be displayed. Apply a few coats of paint, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next.
  • Stain: If you prefer a more natural look, consider staining your wooden picture frame. Stain enhances the natural grain of the wood and adds warmth to the overall appearance. Apply the stain with a brush or cloth, following the manufacturer’s instructions, and allow it to dry thoroughly.
  • Decorative Molding: Another way to add flair to your picture frame is by using decorative molding. You can find a variety of molding styles at your local home improvement store. Cut the molding to the desired length and attach it to the outer edges of the frame using wood glue or small nails. Sand and finish the molding to match the rest of the frame.
  • Embellishments: For a more unique and artistic touch, consider adding embellishments to your wooden picture frame. You can use beads, buttons, shells, or other small decorative items. Attach them to the frame using strong adhesive or small nails. Arrange them in a pleasing pattern or design.
  • Carving: If you have woodworking skills, you can carve intricate designs or patterns into your picture frame. This adds a personalized touch and showcases your craftsmanship. Use appropriate carving tools and take your time to create the desired design.

Remember to seal your decorative additions with a clear coat of varnish or polyurethane to protect them and give the frame a finished look. With these added decorative touches, your wooden picture frame will become a beautiful piece of art in itself.

Applying a Finish

Once your wooden picture frame has been assembled and sanded, it’s time to apply a finish. The finish not only enhances the appearance of the frame but also helps protect the wood from moisture and damage.

Here are the steps to apply a finish to your wooden picture frame:

  1. Clean the surface: Before applying any finish, make sure the surface of the wooden frame is clean and free from dust. Use a soft cloth or brush to gently remove any dirt or debris.
  2. Choose your finish: There are various types of finishes available, including oils, varnishes, and paints. Consider the look you want to achieve and the level of protection required for your picture frame.
  3. Apply the finish: Follow the instructions provided with your chosen finish. In general, you’ll need to use a brush or cloth to apply a thin and even coat of finish to the entire frame. Pay special attention to the edges and corners to ensure complete coverage.
  4. Allow for drying and curing time: Different finishes have different drying and curing times, so make sure to read the instructions and allow sufficient time for the finish to fully dry and cure. This may take anywhere from a few hours to several days.
  5. Inspect and touch up if needed: Once the finish has dried, carefully inspect the frame for any uneven spots or imperfections. If necessary, lightly sand the affected areas and apply an additional coat of finish to achieve a smooth and even surface.


  • Work in a well-ventilated area to ensure proper airflow and prevent the buildup of fumes.
  • Consider using a sealant or primer before applying the finish to ensure better adhesion and longevity of the finish.
  • Experiment with different finishes and techniques to achieve the desired look and texture for your wooden picture frame.

By following these steps and taking your time to properly apply a finish to your wooden picture frame, you can create a stunning display for your art that will last for years to come.

Mounting Your Artwork

Mounting your artwork is an important step in creating wooden picture frames. It ensures that your art is securely attached and properly centered within the frame.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you mount your artwork:

  1. Gather your materials: You will need your wooden frame, the artwork you want to mount, a mat board (if desired), acid-free mounting tape or glue, a ruler or measuring tape, and a pencil.
  2. Measure and mark: Measure the dimensions of your artwork and mark the center point on the back. Then, measure and mark the center point on the back of your wooden frame as well.
  3. Attach the artwork: Apply the acid-free mounting tape or glue to the back of your artwork, making sure to apply it evenly across the edges. Align the center point of the artwork with the center point of the frame and press down firmly to secure it.
  4. Add a mat board (optional): If you want to add a mat board, cut it to fit the frame and artwork dimensions. Place it on top of the artwork, aligning it with the edges, and secure it in place with mounting tape or glue.
  5. Double-check: Before finalizing the mounting, double-check that the artwork is centered and properly aligned within the frame. Make any necessary adjustments.
  6. Secure the back: Once you are satisfied with the mounting, secure the back of the frame in place. This can be done using clips or nails provided with the frame.

Mounting your artwork properly ensures that it stays securely in place and enhances its presentation within the wooden picture frame. Take your time and follow these steps for professional results.

Hanging and Displaying Your Frame

Once you have completed your wooden picture frame, it’s time to hang and display it to showcase your artwork with elegance. Follow these steps to ensure a proper and visually appealing display:

  1. Choose the right wall: Select a wall that complements your artwork and enhances its overall aesthetic impact. Consider factors such as lighting, room color, and furniture placement to create a cohesive and visually pleasing display.
  2. Positioning: Decide on the positioning of your frame within the wall space. Consider factors like eye level, room layout, and the overall composition of the display area. It is often recommended to hang frames at eye level, so they are easily viewable and create an inviting visual focal point.
  3. Measuring and Marking: Use a tape measure and a pencil to determine the exact placement of your frame on the wall. Measure the height and width of the frame and mark the corresponding points on the wall to ensure a centered and symmetrical display.
  4. Hanging Hardware: Install appropriate hanging hardware on the back of your frame. This can include D-rings, sawtooth hangers, or wire. Ensure that it is securely attached and can support the weight of the frame.
  5. Hanging Technique: Depending on the type of hanging hardware you have used, follow the appropriate technique to hang your frame on the wall. This may involve using nails, screws, or adhesive hooks. Make sure to use a level to ensure the frame is perfectly straight.
  6. Finishing Touches: Once your frame is securely hung on the wall, step back and assess its positioning. Adjust if necessary to ensure it is visually aligned with the surrounding elements. Consider adding additional elements such as lighting, decorative accents, or complementary artwork to further enhance the display.

By following these steps, you can create a visually appealing and elegant display for your wooden picture frame, elevating the overall presentation of your artwork.


What materials do I need to create a wooden picture frame?

To create a wooden picture frame, you will need the following materials: wood boards, a saw, a miter box, sandpaper, wood glue, clamps, a nail gun or hammer and nails, a measuring tape, and paint or stain (optional).

How do I measure the correct size for my picture frame?

To measure the correct size for your picture frame, remove the back of the frame and measure the width and height of the opening. These measurements will determine the size of your frame. If you want to add a mat, the opening should be slightly smaller than the dimensions of your photo.

What is the purpose of using a miter box?

A miter box is a tool used to make precise angled cuts in wood. It is essential for creating the corners of your wooden picture frame. By using a miter box, you can ensure that your corners will meet perfectly at a 45-degree angle.

Is it necessary to sand the wood before assembling the picture frame?

Yes, it is necessary to sand the wood before assembling the picture frame. Sanding helps to smooth out any rough edges or imperfections in the wood, creating a smooth and polished finish. It is recommended to use a medium-grit sandpaper to start and then switch to a finer-grit sandpaper for a smoother result.

Can I paint or stain my wooden picture frame?

Yes, you can paint or stain your wooden picture frame to customize its appearance. If you choose to paint, make sure to apply a primer first to ensure the paint adheres properly. If you prefer a natural wood finish, you can use a wood stain to enhance the grain and color of the wood. Finish off with a clear sealant to protect the frame.

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