Making Picture Frames - IKEA Picture Hack

Introduction: Making Picture Frames - IKEA Picture Hack

We bought some pictures from IKEA, and they are kind of small for the room we want them to be in, plus the color will blend into the wall color as well, but our daughter really likes that pictures, so we decided to create some addition frame work to make them pop in color and meanwhile, make them close to the appropriate size.

Step 1: Design Thought and Measurement

The idea is to create an illusion that the picture is floating inside of the frame work.

The pictures are about 9 3/4" square, it looks OK to have 4" at each side of the picture, so the frame work ends up about 18" square.

The pictures are light gray in the background, with the color of the wall (silver gray) in mind, the finish of the frame should be somewhat darker color.

Step 2: Back Boards and Frame Pieces

We have some 3/4" birch plywood leftover from our daughter's headboards project, one piece is about 17" wide, that's perfect for this.

The panel was cut into exact 17" x 17" square, then get sanded with 150 grid paper.

From local home center, we picked up a piece 1x8 common board that was 8' long. The tricky part here is to go through the store stock and try to find the board that is straight and have very few defect - split or knot. We were very lucky to find one like that. Check out the picture! It's almost to the quality of "selected pine board".

After ripping them into 2" wide strips and some hand planing with small box plane along the edges to get rid of the saw marks, the final sanding was almost not necessary. The sharp plane cutting through pine board and making full width of shaving was quite a pleasant experience...

Step 3: Assembly

The best way to cut the frame banding to the correct length is not to measure them, and I learned this from a master carpenter.

The procedure is to cut one end of the banding material at 45°, then take it to the back board, align the end to one side, mark the inner corner of the other end, and miter cut that corner, continue the same step to go around all 4 sides.

Tips here are:
  • Cut about 1/8" longer than the mark and sneak up on it to get the best fit.
  • Lightly put marks on each side to indicate the corresponding banding.
  • Dry fit all the parts before the glue up start.
  • Apply glue on edges as well as on each miter corner.

During the assembly process, use glue and nail gun to put them in place. Use a piece of 1/2" plywood spacer under the back board during the assembly process to ensure the proper spacing behind the pictures, it also provide a space for nails or cleat to hang them on the wall. Assemblies were then clamped together after glue and nail, dry over night.

Even with extra careful at assembly process, I still end up with some gap at miter corner. I learned a trick from William Ng in one of his Youtube video on how to make it perfect again. Use a screw driver or a burnishing tool, roll the tool at 45° toward the gap at each side of the banding and slowly close the gap by rooling material into the gap. Make sure do it slowly so you don't break the wood fiber.

Step 4: Finishing

Before the final sanding, I found the edge banding of the picture frame were not flush at the front face. So a few passes with a small block plane made them almost perfectly even, and after sanding with 150 and 220 grid sand paper, all corners looked very nice and clean.

Primer was applied to the frame, and sanded lightly after it dried.

We have some left over oil base door paint that was a rich deep red color we liked, so I painted the picture frames with it. Boy! What a stong smell that oil base paint was! My final suggestion, don't do this indoor, I had to open the windows for an hour with a fan running to get rid of that smell...

I cut two pieces of plywood at a little over 3 1/2" and used them as picture mounting jig.
  • Set them at the back side along two sides of the frame as pictured
  • Trace the picture to show the location for nailing reference
  • Use the same jig to position the picture at the front center
  • Filp over and nail the picture at inside of the reference lines from the back side.

Go get the level out and hang them up...

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