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How to Make Your Own Wooden Frames

A comprehensive tutorial for making a DIY wooden frame for canvas artwork, with a gallery-style gap between the canvas and the frame (float-mount frame).

Custom wooden float-mount frame

Custom framing can be expensive — _really_ expensive — but you can learn to do it yourself.  With a few simple tools you can custom frame a canvas for a fraction of the cost of having it done in a shop.

This tutorial focuses on a float-mount frame, the kind that leaves a small gap between the edge of a canvas and the frame around it. 

Materials

Things You Will Need

  • One-by-two poplar boards
  • One-by-one poplar boards
  • Tape measure
  • Miter saw
  • Wood stain (for inside wood pieces)
  • Rag or paper towel
  • Paint or stain (for outside wood pieces)
  • Paintbrush
  • Spring clamps
  • Band clamp
  • Electric drill and 1/16-inch drill bit
  • 1 1/2-inch finishing nails
  • Hammer
  • Small eye hooks
  • Hanging wire
  • Hanging hardware

    Measure and Cut the One-by-Twos

  1. Measure the length and width of the canvas you're framing and add 1/4 inch to allow for the gap between the canvas and finished frame. Set the miter saw at 45 degrees and cut the ends of the one-by-twos.
  2. Cut one-by-twos at 45 degrees

    Tip

    The measurement of your canvas (plus 1/4 inch) should match the distance between the shorter sides of the 45-degree cuts.

    Measure and Cut the One-by-Ones

  3. Set the miter saw to make straight cuts (0 degrees) and cut the one-by-ones to match the inside dimensions of the one-by-twos (shorter side to shorter side). It's fine if these are a little shorter than the inside measurement of the one-by-twos.
  4. Cut one-by-ones at 0 degrees

    Paint the Wood

  5. Use a rag or paper towel to apply wood stain to the one-by-ones. Paint or stain the one-by-twos as desired. For this project, gold leaf paint was used.
  6. Paint and stain wood

    Attach the One-by-Ones to the One-by-Twos

  7. Line up the edges of a one-by-one and a one-by-two of the same length. Clamp together and drill pilot holes, then hammer 1 1/2-inch nails into the pilot holes to attach the one-by-one to the one-by-two. Repeat for the remaining one-by-ones and one-by-twos.
  8. Attach one-by-one to one-by-two

    Clamp the Frame Sides Together

  9. Lay the attached one-by-ones and one-by-twos together to form the frame, and use the band clamp to firmly hold them together. Drill two pilot holes in the corners of the frame and hammer 1 1/2-inch nails into the pilot holes. Use nails on every corner to ensure the frame is strong.
  10. Construct frame

    Position the Canvas

  11. Set the canvas into the frame. It will sit on top of the one-by-ones that are recessed in the one-by-twos. Carefully position it so the gap between the edges of the canvas and edges of the frame is the same all the way around. Clamp in place to hold the positioning.
  12. Clamp canvas to frame

    Attach the Frame to the Canvas

  13. Carefully flip the frame over and drill pilot holes through the back sides of the one-by-ones. Hammer 1 1/2-inch nails through the pilot holes to attach the frame to the canvas.
  14. Attach frame to canvas

    Attach the Hanging Hardware

  15. Screw small eye hooks into the back of the frame, about a third of the way down from the top of the frame on each side. Twist hanging wire from eye hook to eye hook, and hang on the wall with an appropriately sized hanging hook.
  16. Hang finished frame on the wall Float-mount frame

Things You Will Need

  • Picture
  • Measuring Tape
  • Frame Moulding (Wood)
  • Cardboard
  • Handsaw
  • Wood Glue
  • Miter Clamp/Box
  • Corner Clamps
  • Dowel Plugs (Staples or Small Nails)
  • Paint or Stain
  • Clear Wood Finish
  • Sand Paper
  • Paint Brush
  • Picture Hanger
  • Matte Glass (or Pexi-Glass) (Optional)
  • Mat Board (Optional)

About the Author

Jennifer Bridgman is a blogger, furniture maker, decorator and general jill-of-all-trades for everything "home." She lives near Boston with her husband and two young daughters and shares inspiration and tutorials on her blog, The Chronicles of Home. Classic contemporary style and colorful accents are her go-tos.