Introduction: Tool Box or Junk Drawer Picture Frame

The old adage, “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure”, holds true when making this very simple picture frame.

The best part about this picture frame is that it helps you repurpose and create art from those random items found in around the house and in the bottom of your toolbox or desk drawer.

This picture frame construction is suitable for ages 3+ years (with adult supervision) and older!

Items needed:

1. art work to frame (any paper picture you create will be fine)

2. piece of cardboard (example: back of an old spiral notebook or calendar insert)

3. a ruler with holes in it. (holes can be optional)

4. debris from the bottom of a toolbox (demonstrated in this tutorial) or desk drawer

5. hot glue gun (requires adult supervision)

6. pencil

7. masking tape

8. scissors (requires adult supervision)

9. sharp knife (requires adult supervision)

10. news paper

Step 1: Collect Items for Gluing

Locate your toolbox and remove all the larger items until only the loose items remain.

Step 2: Create a Picture on a Piece of Paper

You may use your child’s “refrigerator” or school art for this purpose.

Step 3: Locate a Piece of Cardboard

  • Make sure the cardboard size is compatible with the size of your artwork that you have selected.
  • However, because the artwork is created on paper, you can always cut the artwork to a smaller size to better fit the frame if necessary.

Step 4: Establish the Width of the Picture Frame

  • Begin at the corner edges of the piece of cardboard and measure approximately 2 inches in from both sides.
  • Repeat measurement in each of the 4 corners.
  • This will result in creating 4 reference points in each corner.

Note: You can use any measurement you would like to create the width of the frame. Fewer number of inches means a smaller frame width. A grearter number of inches means a larger frame width. But remember, the smaller the width of the frame, the less space you will have to glue your “treasures”!

Step 5: Create the Internal Dimensions of Your Picture Frame

  • With a pencil and your ruler, draw a straight line, running parallel to the edge, connecting the dots you made.
  • This will create a square (or rectangle- depending upon the shape of your cardboard piece) drawn in the center of your cardboard piece.

Step 6: Cut Out the Center of Your Frame.

For adults only!

  • Using a sharp knife, cut out the center of the piece of cardboard.
  • Discard center piece or save for another, smaller picture frame!

Step 7: ​Plug in Hot Glue Gun.

For adults only!

Remember to have plenty of replacement glue sticks so you don’t run out before your project is done!

Step 8: Glue Items Onto Frame

Adult help required!

Lay cardboard frame on newspaper and once glue gun has heated appropriately, begin gluing “treasures” onto your frame any way you choose.

Note: the adult may put a drop of glue on the cardboard frame and the child may press the item of choice into position.

Careful, the glue can be hot!

Step 9: Use Ruler to Create Frame Hanger

  • Once you have glued all desired items to your frame, use the ruler (with holes) previously used for connecting the dots ,and glue it to the top of your frame.
  • Run a strip of glue horizontally along the length of your ruler and then press the edge of the back of your frame onto the ruler.
  • To ensure a good adherence, turn the frame over and lay an additional strip of glue along the edge of the ruler on the back of the frame.

The holes in the ruler will be used you to hang your framed picture.

Step 10: Attach Your Paper Art Work to the Frame

  • Once the items on the front of your frame, as well as the ruler hanger, have cooled and dried, turn the picture frame over and place the piece of paper artwork over the hole in the center.
  • Make sure the art covers the hole entirely.
  • Use masking tape to adhere the paper to the back of picture frame.

Step 11: Hang Your Framed Art Work!