Minimalist Framing

Introduction: Minimalist Framing

About: Smith|Allen is a design firm based in Oakland California. Our work is interdisciplinary in focus bringing design, innovation, and novel concepts to bear on a wide range of projects. Smith|Allen brings togeth…

Do you like the idea of framing works on paper but don't like traditional, clunky frames? I am usually not a big fan of framing, so I set out to make a clean and minimal frame.

Say, perhaps, you've just created a work on paper (a drawing, print, etc), and you want some way to frame it that won't compete with the piece itself. This particular frame is light weight, minimal, simply made of two sheets of acrylic and some standing posts. It's a clean way to show off, not distract, from your new work on paper. To top it off, it's incredibly easy to make!

Step 1: Materials

Components for frame:

  • Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw
  • (36 x 24") Acrylic - frosted - 1/8" / Non glare acrylic at ePlastics
  • (36 x 24") Acrylic - clear - 1/8" / Available at Tap Plastics
  • Laser cutter (Epilog used here)
  • Cap for Female Threaded Round Standoffs, Aluminum, 1/4" Cap Diameter, 4-40 Screw / 93558A715 on McMaster Carr
  • Aluminum Female Threaded Round Standoff, 1/4" OD, 1/4" Length, 4-40 Screw / 93330A340 on McMaster Carr
  • Type 316 Stainless Steel Button-Head Socket Cap Screw, 4-40 Thread, 1/8" Long / 98164A428 on McMaster Carr
  • Screw driver (4-40)

Hanging Parts:

  • Sawtooth Picture Hangers 2-3/4"
  • Super glue

Cleaning materials:

Step 2: Design + Laser Your Frame


I wanted to have an inch border around my work on paper, but this is completely up to your own preferences and vision. I opted for a smaller frame because I wanted the viewer to have an intimate experience with the work.

  • My frames are 10 x 10 " with .16" diameter circles on each corner.
  • I separated my files into colors and layers since I was using two kinds of acrylic, one for the face, and one for the backing.
  • PRO TIP: On the backside, I laser etched a registration square to ensure even placement of the print (especially since I was framing 21 prints). I recommend doing this no matter how many works you are framing.

Laser settings:

  • My settings for vector cut: 30 (power) x 100 (speed) x 5000 (frequency)
  • My settings for the engraving: 100 (power) x 70 (speed)


  • Place material in the bed. I used 36 x 24" material, which fits at the max in the Epilog bed at Pier 9.
  • Do your engraving first, then complete the rastering. You can do this by either color mapping the settings, or you can put each type of cut on a different layer and send them as different jobs.

Step 3: Assemble


    • Using your cleaning solution, gloves, and paper towel, clean the acrylic well before assembling the frames.
    • With your gloves still on, take your super glue and adhere the hanging tabs with the U-shaped tabs.
      • If you have done the engraving step, line up your hanging device in the center, top aligned with the top border.
      • Wait a minute or two for the glue to set before moving it


    • Place the paper within the back frame. Align it within the engraved area (if you did this).
    • Place the top piece over the bottom one and work on paper. The holes should align perfectly.
    • Then, put your standing post in through the holes, then put the cap on tightly. Following, add the screw, using your screwdriver for a tight fit.
    • And you're done!

    Step 4: Hang and Admire!

    Now that your work on paper is framed, hang it on your wall!

    Do (a little) math

    • Figure out the perfect spot for you piece.
    • Then, decide on a hanging height (usually between 58-60 inches on a wall) and measure down from the top of your frame to the bottom of your hanging device (mine was 2 1/4 inches down).
      • I hung my prints at 58 inches, so the height where my nail went was 55 3/4 inches.

    Put a hole in the wall

    • You can use a drill or a hammer/nail to secure your piece to the wall. If your piece is small and lightweight, like mine, you can hang off one. For heavier pieces, or more awkward shapes, use two.
    • Place the work securely on top of the nail (or nails). Use a level and adjust as necessary (but, since you did your calculations, you are probably good to go!).
    • And there you go! Admire your work.

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