How to Build a DIY Wood Frame For Photos and Printables

I love text art. Subway art, chalkboard art, calligraphy, awesome quotes in cool fonts, etc. There are so many free printables available now that it would be easy to find one that’s perfect for every single room is your house. What’s a little more difficult is finding cool frames that don’t cost much, especially for a large print. I figured it couldn’t be too hard to make my own using a $5 pine board from Home Depot. Turns out it’s not! Keep reading for instructions on how to make a simple wood frame.

I used a 4 inch wide pine board from Home Depot (which is actually about 3.5 inches wide). I got the 8 ft length for a frame for a 16×20 print. I used a miter saw set at 45 degrees to miter the corners. When cutting your pieces, remember that the short side (inside) of each board should be about an inch shorter than the height or width of your print. For a 16×20 print, I had pieces that looked like this:

The exact dimensions are not that important; however, it IS important that both long pieces are exactly the same lenght, and both shorter pieces are exactly the same length. This will ensure that your mitered corners line up perfectly. I accomplished this by sawing through both pieces at once on the miter saw.

If you don’t have a miter saw, don’t worry. You can just make a frame without mitered corners. If you do that, you’ll want to cut your pieces like this:

To put your frame together, you’ll need wood glue and some sort of joiner. I’ve seen v-nails recommended, but I couldn’t find them at Home Depot. You could also use a metal brace that you screw into the pieces you’re attaching together. I was looking for something inexpensive and convenient, so I found these wood joiners for a buck fifty:

I used a lot of wood glue, pushed my pieces as close together as possible, and asked one of my boys to hammer in a couple of joiners across the seam.

I put heavy books on it to make sure the corners all laid flat and left it to dry for a couple of hours. Here’s what it looked like finished:

I stained it, then hated how it looked, so I sanded most of the stain off and just painted it instead. I picked a robin’s egg blue because I knew that would like nice against a chalkboard printable. I used 50 cent acrylic craft paint from Walmart and mixed in a few drops of water to thin it out a bit so the wood grain would show through:

I also sanded it slightly to distress. I really want to make another one and pick a better stain, though, because I think that could be gorgeous.

I found that the easiest way to attach a print or photo was to tape it to a piece of stiff foam board (found at the dollar store) that I trimmed to slightly smaller than frame size:

Then I just flipped the foam board over, center the print in the frame, and stapled the foam board right to the frame. When I want to change the print, it’s easy to pop the staple out, take the print off the foam board, and tape a new one in, with no damage to the print or frame. If you want to hang the frame, simply hammer in a sawtooth hanger (or two) along the top.

Here’s what my new Halloween chalkboard printable looks like

-tutorial and images from


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