Monday, February 26, 2018

Making picture frames from reclaimed barn wood

Reclaimed wood is such a great resource for so many of us; from old fences, to industrial palettes, and in my case old barns! But what can we do that really makes the best of this upcycling gold? Well today, I'm turning some of my favorite barn wood slats into gorgeous picture frames!

Who doesn't love to keep their favorite photos and art on display? But picture frames can be expensive... especially if they are custom made for special sizes. So if you have access to a few tools and supplies, why not make them up yourself? Here's what I used:

  • miter saw (power or manual)
  • router
  • frame clamp
  • wood glue
  • sand paper
  • v nails
  • creme wax
  • glass or plexi
  • cardboard for backing
  • framing points

Let's get started!
First you will want to measure the art area of the piece you want to frame. I prefer to mat my photos, so for a 5x7 photo I'll need an 8x10 frame. But if you ever take a close look at a frame, you'll notice that the actual art area of an 8x10 frame is about 7.5x9.5. That's because the inner channel (or rabbet) on the back of the frame, where you inset the glass and art, is about .25 inches deep. So we will miter cut 4 pieces of my 1.5 inch wide barn wood: 2 pieces with and inner length of 9.5 in. , and 2 pieces with an inner length of 7.5 in.

NOTE: I prefer to cut my pieces first and then use the router to cut the rabbet, but you can do this first if you prefer...

So next up, the routing! This is one tool that you may not have if you're not a power tool person. I know there are other ways to do this using a planer or chisel... but those are just too slow for me ;D
I love my router, and it makes quick work of this step! I'll route a .25 in. rabbet along the inner length of each piece. Make this only as deep as you need it; I'll be making mine 3/8 in deep to hold the depth of the glass, mat, and backing I plan to frame. Now a quick sanding on all the cut edges and we are ready to put this frame together!

Get out the glue, and the clamp!
Arrange the frame pieces together and make sure that everything fits... because this is really your last opportunity to make any real changes. If everything is right, then your are ready to assemble. The first step is to glue the corners together, and set the frame in a clamp until the glue is set. Once set, remove the clamp and use your v nails to reinforce the frame. Some people like to use only glue, however I have found that hanging on the wall over time really puts pressure on those seams. I would much rather add the nails than have the glass fall out of my frame ( even if it's a few years down the road)...

Last step is to finish the frame with any type of paint, stain, or varnish you like! I love the color and look of the wood I'm using, so I'm simply giving it one coat of creme wax. This gives the wood a soft matte finish that protects both the wood and my fingers (from splinters) when handling. While that dries, find your glass (I have mine cut for me, hardware stores are great for this) and cut your card board backing to the same size as the glass. When ready, place the glass, matted photo, and backing into the frame. With the content inside the frame, secure them using framing points... one or two per side should be enough for an 8x10 frame. And... done!

OK, that's all for now; on to the next project! Want to know what it is? Follow me on twitter for sneak peeks and updates! If you're just looking for DIY inspiration, stayed tuned @ for more on my DIY projects through the year! And if you're looking to get some of the items you've seen here on my blog, on twitter, or on my boards, just head over to my etsy shop!


  1. I enjoyed reading your article. Please make more interesting topics like this on.
    I'll come back for more :)

    From Japs a researcher from Kings Great Buys

  2. Hi there,

    Very nice post and blog, I found it very explanatory and informative, thank you very much for sharing your knowledge and wisdom with us, we know how important is experience in our lives.

    take care and stay positive

    Your follower,

    Lisa from Concessionárias