Introduction: Faux Wood Foamcore Frame
Well, I've been a serious instructables lurker for a while now, but my lack of tools and space has kept me from being able to really tackle any of the major woodworking projects floating around in my brain.
Luckily, this project is perfect for that situation. I needed a large art piece to go on the wall behind my bed, but art is expensive. So I thought I would use rasterbator.net to enlarge a picture to tape up there. My girlfriend wasn't too fond of the idea of taping up sheets of paper to our wall, though. So from there I started trying to come up with a lightweight (renters) and relatively classy solution to our dilemma. That is how the faux wood foam core frame was born.
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
Now, you may not want to make a frame as large as I did, so that's the subjective part of your materials list. Just be sure to draw out your frame and include measurements so you know what size foam core you'll need. For this frame, I used a tri-fold because it was the only thing big enough.
Tri-fold (or other size foam core board)
Bottle of brown paint
Wood graining tool (can be found at big box hardware stores or online)
Ruler or measuring tape
Cup of water
Hot glue gun (and sticks)
Step 2: Remove the Sides
This step only applies if you're using a trifold for your board.
First, unfold the sides of the board. Then get out your x-acto knife (I know, I'm using a utility knife. It's only because I couldn't find my x-acto knives though. The whole process would've gone easier if I had them) and cut along the fold lines until you're left with a large rectangle and two smaller half sized ones.
Step 3: Make Your Marks
Now, the larger section is ready to become the main part of the frame.
Take your ruler or measuring tape and mark out two inches from the edge of the board. Then mark two inches from the bottom, and connect them to form a little plus sign. This will help you line up the edges.
Repeat this step until all four corners are marked. Then, take one of the extra pieces you cut off from the sides and use it as a straightedge to draw lines connecting the marks.
Now you should have a penciled rectangle.
Step 4: Cut It Out!
Now, take your x-acto knife (or you know, utility knife) and cut along the lines you've drawn. You can use the other piece as straightedge here too, if you want.
The foam core is surprisingly difficult to cut through cleanly, so this was the step I was dreading the most. My lines weren't perfectly straight, but in the end it gave the project a more organic feel, so I wouldn't worry about it too much.
Step 5: Cut It Out! (pt. 2)
Now that the main part is cut, it's time to mark and cut the pieces that will make up the sides of the frame. Using one of the spare pieces, mark one inch from the bottom (of the long side) and repeat on the other end.
Then use the straightedge to connect the marks.
Repeat until you have four long strips marked, and then cut them out.
Step 6: Test Paint!
Now it's time to do a test run with your wood graining tool. If you've used one of these before, you can probably skip this step, but you might want to do it just to test out the colors.
I mixed my brown paint with water kind of haphazardly, just until it was kind of runny. Then with a medium brush, I coated the paper in a few strokes and quickly rocked the wood graining tool along it.
It took a few tries to get used to how the tool worked, but once it figured it out I was amazed at how realistic it looked.
Step 7: Base Coat
With the water paint mixture, I took the medium brush, (which happened to be the exact size of the frame) and painted, making sure that my strokes were all going in the same direction, which is important to get realistic grain. Be sure to paint going long ways down each "board".
Next, paint the inside and outside foam edges. These dry darker than the top does, and it gives it a cool effect.
Then, set it aside to let it dry. This is going to be the base coat, so no wood graining tool yet.
Paint the thin side strips, using the same long strokes and then set them aside to dry.
Step 8: Grain Coat
Now that the frame is fairly dry, it's time to make it look like real wood!
Make a new water and paint mixture, this time less runny, so it will end up a little darker. Paint it on the same way you painted the first coat (only do one side at a time, because acrylic paint dries pretty quickly, even with water added) and then take your graining tool down over the wet paint in a rocking motion.
Now you have a wood grain texture! If it doesn't come out exactly how you want, just brush some more paint over it and try again.
Repeat for the other sides of the frame and set it aside to dry. The thin strips actually look pretty realistic on their own, so we'll leave them alone.
Step 9: Assembly!
After everything is dry you can move on to assembly!
I made the mistake of standing mine up to dry overnight, and it bowed out more than it would've if I had it flat, so don't repeat my mistakes.
The rest is pretty straight forward, attach the long strips to the edge of the frame on the back with hot glue. It took some time for me to get them on straight because the board was so bent, so I used a heavy sketchbook to hold the frame down while I glued it together.
For the shorter sides, I just took the pieces, sized them up between the long ones, and cut where the boards met. Then I glued them on, using a little extra along the corners.
Because my cuts weren't perfectly straight, I used some of the hot glue to fill in the gaps.
Step 10: Finishing
Now you have a pretty realistic "wood" frame! All that's left to do is touch up any gaps/white spots around the sides with some brown paint and it's ready to be hung wherever!