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Ikea sells several really inexpensive shadow-box picture frames that look good, but which are "preloaded" with images suitable for a very calm, beige-colored life in a zen world. But what if you like the frame, but your tastes don't  mesh so well with the with the day-spa sensibilities of the Ikea photographers?

Well it only takes a few moments to take the frames apart and swap in your own images.



Step 1: Step 1: Make and Trim Replacement Prints

These frames take images that are 6.85 x 6.85 inches, but you don't want to trim your replacement images to that dimension because it is pretty darned hard to adhere your image with perfect registration when the back is covered with glue.

The trick is sizing your prints to that dimension, and then adding white canvas space around the images, turning the digital image file into a 6.85" square image, with a white border extending to 8x8 inches.  Then add more space on the sides of your digitial image (say with photoshop?), turning it into an 8x10 standard print size. * Then send your images to the local online photo printer as 8x10 prints.

When you are ready to hack your Ikea frame, simply trim the prints to the 8x8 inch size.

*I usually add the extra width space in the last step as pure black, to balance the white border around the print. That way the photo printers wont darken my photo if they auto adjust the printing to mid-tone grey.

Step 2: Step 2: Remove the Frame Backing

The staples holding the frame together are pretty easy to lift with a screwdriver. You might need a pair of pliers to yank out any staples that pop up on only one side.

Step 3: Step3: Separate the Image Backing From the Frame

At this point, run your hands along the edges to get rid of the cruft of particle board dust that inevitably ends up dropping in when you open the frame.  The glass in these cheep frames is usually dirty on the inside, so I also give it a wipe with some glass cleaner

Step 4: Step 4: Apply Roller Glue to the Photos

This stuff is available at any dollar store,  or you can get it for $5 at an office supply store. But you get what you pay for - the cheep ones tend to gum up alot and sometimes ruin the photos.

The key part of this step is to put the image down on a hard smooth surface before applying the glue. if the surface that the image is on has any "give" to it, then the roller mechanism will create long divot lines across the image, ruining it. Do not press hard on the photo with the roller if you can avoid it.

I usually cover about 50% of the photo's back surface with glue, as I am not going to be able to go back and fix the image if it falls off later.

An alternative method would be to apply the glue directly to the surface of the original images that came with the frames. This would avoid putting divot grooves in the images, but you run the risk of placing the adhesive outside of the replacement photos.

Step 5: Step 5: Carefully Lay Down the Images

Ok, the back of the image is now covered with glue so you have only one shot at this, I usually line the image up by eye, and then bend the photo into a "U" shape, letting the bottom of the U touch the center of the image I am replacing.

Then simply roll out the rest of the image so that it is in contact.

Step 6: Step 6: Press the Images to Set the Glue

Have a blank piece of paper ready, so that you can press down firmly on the images to set the glue.

There is a metal hanger piece on the backboard, which you will have to hang off the edge of a table so that you can really press firmly on the images.

Step 7: Step 7: Glue Backboard Into Place With Hot Glue

Once all the images are replaced, flip the back board over and put the image backing into the frame

BUT  BEFORE YOU APPLY THE GLUE...

---->> turn the frame over carefully  (holding it together)  and check that no dust, or particle board cruft, has crept inside your frame when you put the back in place. This happens about 50% of the time.

If its all clean, simply run a bead of hot glue around the back edge to re-seal the frame. 

In this instructable, I changed the photos in an Erikslund frame, but the same basic steps apply to almost all of the preloaded picture frames at Ikea, including the cool "shadow box" style pictures.


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