Make Your Own Picture Frames

What You'll Need
Mitre saw, either hand or power. You'll get more uniform results from the power saw, if you're comfortable using one.
C clamps (several).
Corner clamps (4). Don't be afraid to spend some money on these. Get sturdy, substantial clamps in an unyielding material like metal. Luckily, even the very good ones aren't that expensive.
L-square ruler.
Lengths of molding.
Wood glue.
Paint or stain.
Wood filler.
Brads or staples.
Glass (optional).

There are many reasons to make your own picture frames. Possibly you have a lot of pictures you want framed the same way, or you have an odd - shaped picture or photo that won't fit any standard frames – or maybe you just want to save money. The good news is that with a small investment in basic equipment, you can make great frames to fit any décor.

Sources of Moulding

Picture frames can be made of many materials. To make traditional wood frames, go to a home store's moulding area and find the kind called "picture frame moulding." It will have an area hollowed out in back, forming a recess to hold the artwork.

If you don't like the selection of picture frame mouldings available, look at other mouldings in the area – you can often turn a piece of moulding into picture frame moulding by adding an extra narrower piece in back to form the recess. Sometimes you can just buy the length of moulding you need, but often you have to buy a whole 6 or 8 foot length. It's probably easier for the beginner to just buy the set length, since it takes some experience to figure out exactly what you need, and you may need extra for miscalculations.

Making the Frame


Look at a storebought frame as an example when making your frame. Start by making a 45 degree cut on one end of the length of moulding that tapers toward the recessed end. Do your cuts on the "front" side of the moulding so you can see it take shape. Measure your artwork, taking into account the amount of it that will be covered by the recess.

You'll want the frame opening to be about ½ inch smaller than the actual artwork so it doesn't fall out. Mark this measurement on the recessed edge, and make another 45 degree cut from it going the opposite way. If you've done it right the ends will slant toward each other, with the recessed edge being the shorter length. Cut another length of moulding exactly the same way. Then measure the other dimension of your art, subtract that ½ inch, and cut those pieces the same way.


To glue your frame together, put an even coat of wood glue onto two adjacent sections of moulding, and slide them into the two sides of the corner clamp. Clamp them securely in place so there's a little pressure on both sides. This will ensure a good joint. Always wipe off glue that oozes from the joint. Repeat until all the corners are clamped. Make sure to lay the clamped frame someplace level to dry so it doesn't warp; it should dry for at least a day.


Stain or paint the wood. It's best to do any staining before you assemble the piece, since any wood glue will interfere with the stain going on. If you're painting, you can wait until after the assembly. Generally, if you're just starting out, it's best to plan to paint – it's more forgiving of little mistakes. If you do make a mistake and have a gap in your joint, you can fill it with wood filler before you paint it. Let the filler dry thoroughly. Don't use wood putty, which never hardens.


If you're using glass, set it into the recess, followed by the artwork. Cut a piece of cardboard to fit the recess. You can fasten it in place behind the artwork with small brad nails, staples or even tape.