Customizable Picture Frame-wall Lamp

Introduction: Customizable Picture Frame-wall Lamp

In this "How to" I will show you what it takes to make a creative and useful Valentines gift, a customizable picture frame-wall lamp!

My Fiancé loves pictures so instead of simply buying/making another regular, boring picture frame, I decided to make her a functional piece of furniture that will not only captivate her eyes but also light up her world! Or room to be more specific :)

Step 1: Here Are the Basic Materials You Will Need to Re-create This Project

*Throughout this Instructable there will be many ways you could customize this project to fit your desire but I will show the tools and steps needed to re-create the idea as I did for my special valentine.*

• For the lamp
   o Wood (I used pine): 48" x 12" x 1"
   o Primer (Spray or brush)
   o Black Paint and paint brush
   o 1- Short Light bulb (I used 40w and wouldn't recommend any higher)
   o 4 - 1 3/4" wood screws
   o 2 - 3/4" wood screws
   o 4 - 3/8"-1/2" Plastic Toggle drywall anchors
   o 1 - Lamp cord switch
   o 1 - Cleat Socket
   o 1 - 12' lamp cord

For the customizable picture cover
   o I used  to design my own 1 yard of fabric (will explain in a later step)
   o 5’ of sew on Velcro
   o E6000 super glue
   o Matching cotton thread

Tools: Drill, circular saw, screw driver, wood glue, sewing machine (or needle for the ambitious ones), sand paper, small hand saw, and Photoshop or any photo program that lets you lay out real dimensions

Step 2: Priming and Cutting the Wood

Measure twice and cut once!

I primed my wood prior to cutting because I find it easier to paint one big piece, but it can be done before or after and should not make a difference.  Make sure to get a good primer coat laid down so that your paint will stick later on.

Measure (2) 12" x 12" squares followed by (2) 12" x 6" rectangles on your wood and cut those pieces using your circular saw, so that your one long piece of wood now looks like image #2.

We can now get a good idea of how this box is going to look when finished by standing the pieces together as seen in the 3rd image.

Step 3: Putting the Box Together

Be sure to sand all of your cuts so that the box fits flush before screwing them together.

Assemble your box as it will sit and pre-drill 4 holes, one in each corner (through the top piece and into a side piece.)  Pre-drilling your holes is a great way to save yourself from splitting the wood or drilling your screw in at an angle so I highly recommend this once your pieces fit as you would like.

After lining up your wood in the box shape and pre-drilling, apply a thin line of wood glue (for added strength) along one of the edges and then drillin two screws, one in each corner.  Repeat this process on the other side of the wood so that you have 3 side connected like image #1.  Be sure to wipe off any excess wood glue that has leaked out the seams of the wood and then let dry.

After the wood glue has dried, repeat the process on the other side so that you now have a complete box like image #2.

Step 4: Cut Out the Center of the Box

Once you have a solid and complete box you now want to cut out the center so that your main picture with really light up!

Measure in 2" from the outside edge all the way around your box and create a smaller square within the square.  This is the piece you will need to cut out.

This step would be easily done with a good hand saw, router, or jig saw but if you only have a circular saw like me, we can still make it work!  *Be sure to measure the size of the saw blade so that you can start your cut without the back end of the blade going outside of your measured square.*  With the combination of the circular saw and hand saw, cut out the center of your box as seen in the picture.  You can use sand paper as necessary to perfect the lines as you wish. 

Step 5: Turning the Box Into a Lamp

Now you are ready to turn that ordinary box into an awesome wall lamp!

Begin by measuring to find the dead center inside your box.  Once you have the center, place your cleat socket there and mark/pre-drill the two holes where you will have to attach the socket to the wood.  Make sure you do not go all the way through, or too deep, when pre-drilling these holes because we want the screws to hold the socket firmly inside.  Then 1" below the bottom of the socket, drill a hole just big enough for your lamp cord to fit through (all shown in image #1.)

Repeat the center measuring process on the backside of the wood and starting at the hole for your cord, use your circular saw to cut a 1/4" wide and 1/4" deep channel down the back.  The hole along with the channel will allow your cord to sit behind the box while letting the box still mount flush on the wall (image #2.)

Sand the entire box so that you have smooth edges/corners and the lamp looks professional (you can reapply primer if needed.)  Then paint the entire box black (or whatever you see fit) so that it has a clean finish that won't take away or distract from the pictures.

Step 6: Making the Customizable Picture Covers

First you must create your fabric. I used photoshop so that I could start with a layout the exact same size (42" x 36") given by the fabric design company (  for a yard of fabric.  Since the wrap only needs to be 28" x 12" you can make 3 different wraps that way your Valentine will have the ability to customize their lamp depending on their mood.  I created one with 2 of our engagement photos along with a wordle ( of a song we both love, another with 3 of our engagement photos, and a final one with 3 pictures of her pets.

Be sure to size each picture according to the size of the lamp and make sure to give yourself at least an inch on both the top and bottom so that it can fold over the edges.  You can see in the first image how I laid out the pictures.

After you upload your design and have your fabric printed, you need to sew-on velcro so that it will attach to and remove from the lamp box.  Fit your fabric on your box and then sew a seam across all the edges of the box and on the corners where the fabric overlaps (Image #2).  Then measure out strips of fabric that are aligned with the two side and front of your box and attach those to both the top and bottom as seen in Image #3. 

Using the E6000 super glue, attach the other side of the velcro to the top and bottom of your box (Image #4.)  Now your Valentine  can switch out their "pictures" whenever they feel like it!

Step 7: Lighting Up the Room!

Finally we have reached the main event!  Lets get this thing lit up already!

Attach your cleat socket where you have already pre-drilled the holes.  Feed enough of the lamp cord through the hole and attached each end according to the instructions on the cord package and then tighten down the screws (Image #1)

Connect the lamp cord switch per the instructions on the package so that the lamp can be easily turned on and off (image #2.)

Finally, attach the box to the wall with the drywall anchors, insert the light bulb in the socket, wrap the lamp with your most favorite pictures, plug in the cord, and flip the switch!!

You have now created both a customizable picture frame and a great wall lamp for your Valentine!!

If you need any guidance or clarification feel free to send me a message and I would be glad to help you out!

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