Picture of DIY Custom Picture Frames
Avoid the high prices of buying custom frames by making your own. Its easier than you think.
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Step 1: Introduction

Nothing helps improve the appearance of a photograph, drawing, print or other artwork than a good picture frame. Frames are available in some standard sizes, however often what one wants to frame does not fit in a standard frame. Many would have you believe that creating a custom frame requires arcane skills that only a select few can do, and they charge accordingly.

This tutorial shows how one can create their own custom frames to show off your works of art, and save a good deal of money in the process.

Some of the pictures in this tutorial are way out of focus but they still get across the meaning. I'll update them next time I make a picture frame.
ArtLover196 years ago
Another alternative that may turn out to be most cost efficient is to purchase a custom frame online. A site like offer near wholesale prices on solid wood custom frames (i.e. starting at $0.29 an inch). Cost varies by moulding style and width. They chop, route, and wedge your custom sized frame and FedEx it free the next day. Make you own frames if you enjoy doing it, not if your sole purpose is to save money. Once you factor the cost of materials, storage, tools, waste, your time, and the occasional goof up; the cost is actually quite high.
Bannef ArtLover1910 months ago

I am trying to frame a very large and odd shaped item, so I'm looking at $100 minimum for the frame alone. Even if I have to buy some of the tools I bet this is the economical choice for me.

That said, if I do go through with this I will probably get a mat professionally cut. Many places that sell mats will cut them for very little (six dollars maybe), and I have shaky hands. A homemade frame that's simple and has an imperfection or two is something to be proud of, but a crooked mat will drive me crazy.

paperrhino (author)  ArtLover196 years ago is indeed a good source for the frame. However that is all you get. You still need to get and cut the matt board, get and cut the glass/plexiglass, get and cut a backing, mount the artwork to a backing and mount glass, artwork, and backing into the frame itself. In other words it saves you from having to do steps 10 through 13. The materials for the frame was the cheapest of the materials used in this Instructable. The cost of the wood was about $8, another $1 for the hardware to put the frame together and $8 for a couple cans of paint for a total of $17. At $0.29 an inch a frame of this same size would cost $31.32 according to's calculator. Of course the variety of frame types available at far exceeds what I have available at my local hardware store which is a factor. Fancier molding is also more expensive for the DIY projects. However, if you are making a simple frame for a large artwork with a matt and don't have to buy a lot of the tools I still maintain that it is still cheaper to DIY.
peter19451 year ago
This post goes back a while, but I still think it is relevant. If considering purchasing custom picture frames online, there are in fact many online options available. Three of the best (my opinion) online custom frame shops are:
1. The Picture Frame Guys ( | Located in Washington State
2. American Frame ( | Located in Ohio
3. Graphik Dimentions ( | Located in South Carolina.

Graphik Dimentions has been around the longest. American Frame has the best selection I thing. And the Picture Frame Guys has a killer website; the easiest of the 3 to use.
mvoelker2 years ago
Framing is the perfect occasion to GO METRIC. Millimeters rule. Don't believe it? Try reading fractions of an inch off of a ruler. Good luck. I've seen clerks in a framing shop get it wrong. Inches are completely unsuited for precision measurements.
Cool frame work! At this point in the process I like to glue a sheet of paper across the back of the frame to help prevent dust from finding it's way in.
nancyamy4 years ago
Please--the term is "rabbet." You'd normally do this with a dado cutter. 
tmsmalley5 years ago
You can help keep the metal straight edge from moving around (and messing up your cut!) by fastening squares of coarse emory cloth (cloth sandpaper) to the straightedge's bottom with some double stick or 3M ATG tape. If it's a long straightedge, tape it and the matt board to be cut to the work surface with some blue masking tape. It takes a couple of extra minutes, but saves messing up a $10 piece of matting with a croked cut.

And believe me you WILL notice that goof every time you look at the picture.
StoryAddict5 years ago
I concur with longouyang. I'm going to try and copy/paste to notepad and clean it up to read. sad day :/
heybeachnik5 years ago
"Rabbit" is a small furry animal. When you're writing instructions like this, it's important to spell words like 'rabbet' correctly.
redgren8 years ago
How'd you do this rabbit cut? Router? Table saw?
paperrhino (author)  redgren7 years ago
I used a table saw but use what ever you are most comfortable using.
You've given very clear directions, and it's nice to see the awknowledgement that something should be done to protect the image from the acid in the framing materials -- but the acid free paper used is hardly going to do anything against the high acidity materials used here. A fully protected image should have a 100% acid free mat, tape and backing (both the backing paper and the backing board), plus a metal acid free tape lining along the frame interior to prevent the acid in the wood from seeping into the image. I know you didn't claim it would last forever, I'm just pointing it out so people are aware. (if you did want it to last forever, you'd have to add uv protective glass). I also think it's pertinant to mention that anyone with a work of value shouldn't use this method b/c there's glue used on the picture. Acid-free or not, the moment any adhesive touches an image (with the possible exception of archival quality linen tape, which is fully removable) you've decreased the image's value. You don't mention how much the materials cost -- but if it's anything over $130, you've paid more than you could have custom framed the image shown for -- with better materials and higher quality (I say that b/c personally, I'd have to buy a lot of the tools to complete the project as instructed).
paperrhino (author)  3sidedorchid7 years ago
My thought is if you really have something that needs to last forever or of value, you should have it professionally framed anyway. The acid free materials I used here are just to keep the picture looking nicer for longer. In this case, I still have the original digital version of the pictures so I can make another print should I need to. I'm also not selling these prints, just hanging them on my wall. I recommend professional framing if you plan on selling the works.

I'll update the introduction to reflect that this method for framing is primarily for works that are nice enough to hang, doesn't fit in an off the shelf frame and not necessarily nice or valuable enough to justify a professional framing. If your work does not meet these criteria you are better off going another route.

As for cost, here is a summary (I'll update the materials list later when I'm not as swamped and have time to research the costs, it has been a very long time) .

NOTE: I have made many frames (and plan on making many more) so the cost of the tools is amortize. I also had everything except the matt cutter already so for me the tool cost is negligible. The cost of the tools pay for themselves after making two to three frames (less if you already have a lot of the tools like I did).

In total I estimate the tools cost me around $80.

Total cost for the materials is around $50 with the plexiglass being the largest overall cost. However, this $50 provided enough to make 2 frames.

If you are only planning on making one frame, it is more cost effective to have something professionally framed. If you plan on making 3 or more frames and the other criteria mentioned above have been met it is better to DIY.

My daughter's 14, and draws and paints beautifully. I have had her drawings framed when I could, but it's very expensive. Your directions are very clear, and I'm going to attempt to do this. I'll keep you posted. Thanks so much!
i've been thinking about making my own frames for a while - now i don't have any excuse. thanks!