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DIY Picture Frame

I'm working on an awesome photo project for my home. I had an idea yesterday to actually make my own picture frames instead of continuously buying them. There's only one problem....I don't know where to begin.



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Posted 2011-10-17T13:53:21+0000  by SarBear SarBear

Hi, hello and welcome to the How-To-Community.


You said there’s only one  (not two) problem? No problem, help is on the way! :smileyvery-happy:



Where to begin?


Let’s start with the actual construction of the picture frame. Typical picture frame consists of 4 pieces of moulding with mitered 45 degree corners, glass, backing and the mat.


Taken apart it would look just like this;

picture frame.JPG


Your first step should be determining the size of the mat you are going to use. Mat can be any size you want but typically it’s about 2” inches bigger that the actual picture you’re framing out.

Now with these measurements handy you are ready to start on the frame construction.

I’m not sure how does you tool box look like but there are some specialty tools you are going to need to get this job done right.


One of those must have tools its a miter box.


 Miter Box.jpg

Miter box allows you to cut precise angles and the precise the angles are the better the picture frame is going to look. Upgrade to the miter box would be a miter saw, now not everybody has one so if you do want to use one you can always rent it from one of our participating stores. Click on the Tool Rental for the list of the participating stores.

 MIter Saw.jpg



Considering this is your first time building a picture frame, I would recommend using chair rail moulding profile or something similar that already has a notch routed in to the profile itself to accept glass, mat and backing. You can use any profile you like but if the profile doesn’t have the grove you would have to notch this grove with a router yourself. You also have an option of ordering different profiles of pre notched picture frame moulding. Please visit our Pro Desk department for more details.



 Chair Rail.jpgChair.jpg

Hardest part about building pictures frames is to accurately measure and to make this project easier leave some room for the mat to be trimmed down rather than trying to cut the moulding precisely to match the mat size.


Now let’s talk about joining all of the pieces together.


To precisely join all corners together you need to use something called a corner clamp.


But before clamping water soluble adhesive should be used in combination with V nails. Basically you would apply glue to the corners, clamp all of the corners together and immediately flip over and nail back of the joint using V nails. After all of the corners are nailed you would flip the frame back and assure that all of the corners are still in position.

See attached detail;

 V nail detail.JPG


After 24 hours these clamps can be removed ,frame can be stained or painted and mat and backing cut to match the size of the frame.


Hope this helps and please don’t hesitate to ask any additional questions you may have.





Best Answer

Posted 2011-10-17T21:31:53+0000  by George_HD_CHI

Thank you!   That was really helpful :smileyvery-happy:

Posted 2011-10-18T14:49:58+0000  by SarBear

Should you still be working on making your own frames, I saw this in a wood working magazine a few or more months back... It's a four corner clamp. easy construction with some 1x2, bolts, washers, wing nuts and all thread.


4 Corner Frame Clamp.jpg


Depending on the length of the arms and all thread, you can design this thing to handle typical sized frames. If you are thinking of bigger than say 11x14 or 16x20, or using really heavy frame material, you may want to consider beefing it up a bit with 2x4s


Hope this helps give you an idea to make your project easier.

Posted 2011-12-13T03:50:35+0000  by Paul

You can also find a wide variety of clamps at  Here is just one example:


Frame Clamp.jpg


Thanks Paul for your ever interesting input,


Posted 2011-12-13T13:54:17+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI

Great thread!  I am trying to figure out how to make the backing myself.  What exactly is it cut out from??  Thanks in advance!

Posted 2013-03-08T19:59:33+0000  by OnceInaLifetime

Hey OnceInaLifetime,


Thanks for your question and joining us here on the community!


The backing of the frame can be made from various materials of your choice. Typically, any smooth, thin, and easy to cut plywoods can work. Luan is one that works very well for frame backing. Hardboard works well too, but I find that it isn't as great for moisture resistance as much as plywood is.


As with any plywood that is cut, make sure to sand the edges down afterwards to ensure the backing fits snugly into the frame.


If you have a square frame you'd like to build, you can come down to your local Home Depot and we can cut them to your size to save you time and money!


Let me know if you have any further questions,


Posted 2013-10-09T17:11:26+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL
Outstanding instruction George!

Hey SarBear,

If you use wood glue to assemble the sections, be very careful to prevent getting wood glue on the face of your frame ... particularly if you intend to stain the frame.

Wood glue embeds into the wood surface and will prevent stain from absorbing ... leaving unstained wood colored dollops where the glue embedded.

I like Titebond Wood Glue for all wood projects.

But I try to prevent getting glue within 1/4-inch of wood intend to stain.

If you intend to paint, simply prime the entire frame to cover exposed glue marks before applying paint.
Posted 2015-11-12T18:35:43+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL
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