This DIY picture frame is an easy-to-make project with a high-end look. No fancy tools are required for this one but, of course, you can use them if you have them.
The picture frame has the print suspended between two acrylic sheets. Dowels hold the acrylic sheets in place to extend the print out from the frame. This makes the print look as if it is floating in mid air.
You can watch me make these (I made two frames) on YouTube by clicking here.
If you like this project, please vote! (Upper right corner on a PC; down at the bottom on a mobile device)
Step 1: Tools and Materials
You will need the following materials:
- Wood for the picture frame: dimensional 1 x 2 lumber would work well. This will have an actual width of 1 1/2". The overall length and width of the frame should be 3" longer/wider than the dimensions of the print that you will be framing. This is to allow for the 1 1/2" width of the wood for the frame around each side of the print. I used sapele wood for my frame, but any type of wood will work fine.
- Acrylic sheets. You will need enough acrylic material so that you'll have two layers that are exactly the same size as the picture frame.
- 5/8" Wooden dowel
- 3" x 8-32 screws and nuts
- Sand paper
- Glue sticks for hot glue gun
- Masking tape or blue painter's tape
- #0 biscuits (optional)
- Wood glue
- Danish oil (or whatever finish you prefer)
You will need the following tools (some are optional):
- To cut the wood for the frame: Table saw or some kind of miter saw
- To cut the acrylic sheets: Table saw or sharp knife with a straight edge
- To cut the dowels: band saw or miter saw (any kind of hand saw should be fine)
- Random orbit sander (optional -- hand sanding is fine too)
- Drill press (or Power drill)
Step 2: Cut the Miters
Cut the wood to length with 45 degree mitered corners. The wood should be 3" longer than the length/width of the print that you are framing.
Step 3: Mark the Joints and Assemble
I decided to use biscuit joints to give the frame added strength. This is optional. Just gluing them up without the biscuit joints will be fine.
Step 4: (Optional) - Cut the Slots for the Biscuits
Step 5: Glue and Clamp the Frame
Use wood glue on all of the joints and then clamp for several hours. Be sure that the frame is square as you clamp it up. You can use optional corner squares to help with this.
Step 6: Sand and Finish the Frame
Use a random orbit sander and then finish up with hand sanding. Use whatever finish suits you. I used a wipe-on Danish oil.
Step 7: Mark the Dowel Positions
Using a tape measure, mark the position of the dowels. There will be one in each corner and one at each midpoint between the corner dowels.
Step 8: Drill the Recesses for the Nuts
For each dowel position, drill a 5/8" wide recess for the nut using a 5/8" Forstner bit. These need to go only about 1/4" deep.
Then drill through to the other side using a 1/8" (or smaller) drill bit.
Step 9: Drill Recesses for the Dowels
On the front of the frame, use a 5/8" Forstner bit to drill recesses for the dowels. Drill about 1/4" deep into the wood (be sure not to drill all the way through). These recesses should line up with the recesses on the back of the frame.
Then use a 1/4" drill bit to drill holes all the way through so that the screws can be inserted.
Step 10: Cut the Dowels
The dowels will need to be cut to be roughly 2" long. You'll need to measure to be sure. It needs to be long enough so that it covers the length of the screw, less the thickness of two sheets of acrylic, less the thickness of the wooden frame, but keeping in mind that you have drilled recesses. It might require a bit of trial and error to get it right so that you have enough screw length left to thread on the nut, but not so much that the end of the screw extends beyond the back of the frame.
Step 11: Drill 1/4" Holes Through the Dowels
The screws are about 3/16" in diameter, so drill 1/4" holes to make them a little easier to line up. Apply masking tape or blue tape to the bottom end of the dowel so that it doesn't split when drilling.
Step 12: Cut the Acrylic Sheets
Cut two sheets of acrylic to be the same size as the frame (3" longer and 3" wider than the size of the print). You can do this either with a table saw or with a sharp knife and a straight edge. A table saw will give a cleaner cut. If you use a knife, you might have to sand the edges to remove any bumps.
Step 13: Drill Holes Into the Acrylic Sheets
Tape the acrylic sheets to the picture frame so they do not move around while you are drilling the holes. Everything needs to remain perfectly aligned. Drill carefully with a 1/4" drill bit so that you do not crack or melt the acrylic. (A sharp bit always helps!)
Step 14: Position the Print and the Acrylic Sheets
Add the first acrylic sheet. Spray a small amount of adhesive spray onto the back of the print to help hold it in place and then position on top of the acrylic. Position the top layer of acrylic and then screw in place.
Step 15: Cut Caps for the Screw Heads
Cut short pieces of dowel (about 1/2" long) to serve as caps to cover the screw heads.
Step 16: Drill Recesses Into the Screw Caps
Using a 1/2" Forstner bit, drill recesses into the screw caps, going down just enough to fit the screw head inside (maybe 3/6").
Step 17: Sand the Screw Caps
Sand the top and bottom of the screw caps and then round over the top edges to give it a nice look.
Step 18: Attach the Screw Caps
Use a glue gun to put a little bit of hot glue into the screw cap and then fasten onto the screw head.