how to build a DIY wood frame for photos and printables

I love text art. Subway art, chalkboard art, calligraphy, awesome quotes in cool fonts, etc. There are so many free printables available now that it would be easy to find one that’s perfect for every single room is your house. What’s a little more difficult is finding cool frames that don’t cost much, especially for a large print. I figured it couldn’t be too hard to make my own using a $5 pine board from Home Depot. Turns out it’s not! Keep reading for instructions on how to make a simple wood frame.

Learn how to build a large mitered photo frame for under 10 dollars in about half an hour. DIY wood photo frame tutorial.


(If you’d like to find even more tutorials for building photo frames, check out 20 best DIY frame tutorials.)

I used a 4 inch wide pine board from Home Depot (which is actually about 3.5 inches wide). I got the 8 ft length for a frame for a 16×20 print. I used a miter saw set at 45 degrees to miter the corners. When cutting your pieces, remember that the short side (inside) of each board should be about an inch shorter than the height or width of your print. For a 16×20 print, I had pieces that looked like this:

The exact dimensions are not that important; however, it IS important that both long pieces are exactly the same lenght, and both shorter pieces are exactly the same length. This will ensure that your mitered corners line up perfectly. I accomplished this by sawing through both pieces at once on the miter saw.

If you don’t have a miter saw, don’t worry. You can just make a frame without mitered corners. If you do that, you’ll want to cut your pieces like this:

To put your frame together, you’ll need wood glue and some sort of joiner. I’ve seen v-nails recommended, but I couldn’t find them at Home Depot. You could also use a metal brace that you screw into the pieces you’re attaching together. I was looking for something inexpensive and convenient, so I found these wood joiners for a buck fifty:

I used a lot of wood glue, pushed my pieces as close together as possible, and asked one of my boys to hammer in a couple of joiners across the seam.

I put heavy books on it to make sure the corners all laid flat and left it to dry for a couple of hours. Here’s what it looked like finished:

I stained it, then hated how it looked, so I sanded most of the stain off and just painted it instead. I picked a robin’s egg blue because I knew that would like nice against a chalkboard printable. I used 50 cent acrylic craft paint from Walmart and mixed in a few drops of water to thin it out a bit so the wood grain would show through:

I also sanded it slightly to distress. I really want to make another one and pick a better stain, though, because I think that could be gorgeous.

I found that the easiest way to attach a print or photo was to tape it to a piece of stiff foam board (found at the dollar store) that I trimmed to slightly smaller than frame size:

Then I just flipped the foam board over, center the print in the frame, and stapled the foam board right to the frame. When I want to change the print, it’s easy to pop the staple out, take the print off the foam board, and tape a new one in, with no damage to the print or frame. If you want to hang the frame, simply hammer in a sawtooth hanger (or two) along the top.

Here’s what my new Halloween chalkboard printable looks like in the DIY wood frame:

If you like the printable, you can find it over at eighteen25 today!

Be sure to check out some of my other printables (click on the photos below):

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  1. 3

    Misty @ Meet the Cottons says

    This would be so much easier than trying to find a frame! Love that color! Any chance you’ll share the brand and color name?

    • 4

      Aliatra says

      “I used 50 cent acrylic craft paint from Walmart and mixed in a few drops of water to thin it out a bit so the wood grain would show through”

  2. 6

    Brooke says

    I’m totally in need of this tutorial. I’m constantly pinning or making printables, and I need ways to display them. Thanks so much for sharing! I love all the printables you’ve created!!! Have a great weekend.

  3. 7

    Rachel says

    Love this post, but a little confused how you got the measurements for the frame without mitered corners. Help please?

    • 8

      autumn says

      For a 16×20 print, you want the inside opening of the frame to be 15×19. So the side frame pieces are easy: 19 inches long each. The top and bottom pieces need to be long enough to go across the width of both side pieces (3.5+3.5) and the 15 inch opening, so that’s 3.5 + 3.5 + 15 = 22. I hope that makes sense!

  4. 9

    Jose says

    I need help, do you know where I can find wood already ready to make frames. I need wood about 1/2 to maybe 1 inch wide with a back where the glass can be inserted so glass will not come out, I need to wood to cut in different sizes to make several frames. The reason I need this wood is to make glass boxes to put dolls, art figures inside.

  5. 10

    Mary says

    Instead of stapling the foam board to the back you could use Velcro dots for easy changing! I’ve been wanting to make some frames to use interchangeably with calendar prints I’ve saved. Your plan is perfect for my project!
    Mat boards could also be velcroed in and out!

  6. 12


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    Use it will a nicotine patch to fight the addiction head on. They are
    DSE-084, DSE-097, DSE-201, Janty Mini Fogger,
    JOYE 306, KR-808, RN-4082, and also RN-4088.

  7. 16


    This is a great idea! I need frames for these gorgeous pictures I have for my bathroom and I don’t want to spend a crazy ton of money. Your idea will allow me to make unique, original frames and it’ll be extremely cost effective. Thank you for sharing!

    • 17

      autumn says

      Yep, I love how cheap this ends up being, especially if you’re making multiple frames. Good luck – I hope they turn out great!

  8. 18


    That’s great. I usually picture frame decord in my home. I use miter saw that cut wood. I have problem with cutting board 90 degree. Do you have tip for me?

  9. 20


    Thanks for your sharing. I am going to buy miter saw cut metal and wood. I wonder two brand Hitachi with Dewalt from this site. You have many experience, give me your advice

  10. 21


    Looks great. I like this wooden project very much. It is really great idea to make our home furnished with woods. I love furniture. I made some picture frames for my family and friends last year. But I didn’t use the miter saw, I often use the wood router for my DIY projects.

  11. 25

    simon mason says

    could you give me a quote for 1 picture light wood(real wood)frame with glass/mount 3″, size 120cmx60cm and also price for 10 of the same, also include delivery if .
    there is a charge.
    Simon Mason

  12. 26


    These frames are so beautiful! I am redecorating my home right now and I want to try making these for the remodel! I love having family photos up around the house. Thanks for sharing!

  13. 27

    Debbie hayes says

    What shall we do tomorrow? My 10 year old’s reply – woodwork! I am doing a surprise photo booth. Result! We’ll have a go at both joints – thanks for the inspiration from a grateful mum x


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