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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Make a Cheap Picture Frame with Raised Design

I have been looking for a flat picture frame so I can put a design on it, but haven't been able to find one, and wondered if I could make one.

 Then my FFF Maxine (try to figure that one out texters) said something that spurred me into action. I found a number of how to websites, but most involved buying fairly expensive equipment, and since I don't plan on doing this on a regular basis, I didn't want to do that. However, this video at About.com gives the basics of matting.

I wanted to start this Friday night so I would have the weekend to work on it, but since I don't know how to change the blades on the table saw I had to wait on Hubby to help, and he didn't want to help me until last night. Actually, I was the helper, at least with most of the cutting on the table saw.

I bought a 1"x3"x8' poplar board at Lowes for $8.41, and later found them cheaper at Home Depot. I was only making an 8x10 frame, so the 8' board should have had a little over 3' left over, but we used the excess getting the dado and edge blade set up right, so what should have cost about $4.50 ended up almost twice that.

I wanted to dado the inner edge first, but Hubby thought it would be easier to work with if it was already cut into the right pieces. It wasn't. It's really hard to run the board across the blade when there is a 45º angle on the board. A flat edge would have been easier. Anyway, we got the dado cut and he had another blade that made a rounded cut on the outer edges. That was a scary-looking blade and I was glad when that was done and we both had all our fingers.

After sanding the outer edges, I was ready to put the pieces together. I didn't want nails on the outside of the frame, so I glued the corners first. Not having any clamps small enough, I used rubber bands to press the glued corners together. I also had to cut a piece of carboard to fit in the dadoed groove and keep the frames aligned.

I let it set up a bit and then hammered joint fasteners into the corners from the back. I only mention this so no one else will try this, at least not by yourself. The first one went in easily, even though they were really a bit too big. But hammering it in made the other 3 joints split apart. I reglued them and nailed them on the spot, but there is a noticeable gap in each joint.

After the glue dried, I turned it over, filled the gaps with wood filler, and sanded it down. Then, and this is the reason I was looking for a flat picture frame, I used a stack of stencils glued together and lightweight drywall compound, and made a Gesso design in the corners. If I had grandchildren, I think it would be cute to put their names on the frame, but I think my daughters will be happy with leaves.

I painted a base of tan paint over the edges and leaves so I can sand down to that after painting the frame.

I then painted the whole thing with a black spray paint with matte finish. After it dried, I lightly sanded the top of the whole frame which exposed the tan paint on the design and the frame edges. I sanded a little too far in a couple of places and had to retouch some of the tan and then buff it off. I'm not sure if I like it this way. After it dries another 24 hours, I may spray a clear sealer over it.


This is something that can be done on walls or furniture too.


Another frame, this one made out of framing trim from a big box store.

Until next time, may you have blessings and creativity,


  1. I really like the looks of this frame. Great job.

  2. Thanks! My father-in-law got a framing tool somewhere and I'm going to try it out next.


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