Books Advises

Making pictures
frames in wood

Manly Bannister


Create all kinds of picture frames from simple wood mouldings to elaborate carved types.

Clear instructions on matting, texturing, finishing....


Wood finishing...
Bob Flexner


I have bought a number of books on woodworking, as well as a few on wood finishing.

This is by far the best book on finishing that I have come across.

The book takes all the mystery out of all the different types of finishing materials and finishing processes...

How to make
picture frames

With a dozen featured projects and ideas for dozens more... Get the right "frame"...


DIY a picture wood frame...

The rabbet can make delicate the making of a frame for painting canvas by a handyman having no power tools. We will see further how to circumvent this difficulty with just a some basic tools.

But this rabbet is not essential and you can perfectly build a simple picture-frame , without rabbet, and which will give you whole satisfaction!

Here a very simple frame which will be used to you as a basis for the construction of frames more elaborate.

You have only to adapt the technique to your own needs!

The wood used for this frame

The frame will be built with wood strips with rectangular section. You can find these strips in your do-it-yourself stores … mine, it is Bricodépôt ! (free ad !).

Look at this extract of catalog below and try to find same wood near you live :

(You can click the image to increase it)

These North pine tree strips in are planed… i.e. ready with employment to build our picture frame. For this first frame, we will use strips of 0.5"x2"

You have a painting to frame… first, measure it with precision. Mine measures 16.4"x10.8", it is a standardized canvas frame #6 landscape format…

Withdraw 0.5" with each dimension to obtain interior dimensions of your frame...

We obtain : 15.9"x10.3"


In the example, my pic frame will have 15.90"x10.30" on internal opening. Thus, we can pose on it the canvas frame and fix it by the back. And the edges of the painting wil be hidden when the canvas will be in the frame.


2m of lath 0.5"x2" in planed fir tree.
2m of moulding (for framing doors, windows...)
Picture framer saw
Woodworking glue PATTEX.
Clamps for framing, strap clamp.
Acrylic painting

The cutting of the elements

To make the cuts, you need one picture framer saw (see material for wood page). Carry out a first cut with 45° angle at one end of your 0.5"x2" strip … measure 15.9" starting from the interior side, draw a mark with a pencil on the edge… then cut out with 45° angle the second end. You obtain the 1st part of the frame.

Repeat for the second piece, the same you have just cut. Use the first part as a gauge : pose it exactly above the second part and with a very fine pencil, draw where to make the second cut.

limp miters

It is the critical moment and you must pay great attention because any shift at this level would be catastrophic during the final assembly!

When you are ready, saw with the picture framer saw to obtain the second piece. For more precision, it's better to work with the stop block !

Turn over the strip again, measure 10.3" starting from the interior edge… and repeat again as indicated above. You thus obtain the 4 elements of your frame. Dry fit the frame and check that all works fine.

The joining of the bars

Paste the interior bevels of the bars with a good woodworking glue (fast wood PATTEX or PATTEX polyurethane), and, on a plane surface, approach and assemble the frame members.


It is now necessary to tighten the assembly during the drying of the adhesive : you can pose large weights on the frame to avoid a shift… or better, use a strap clamp ($15 only... Amazon Link Here).

If you have evil to make hold the corners of the press, raise your assembly on small positionning blocks before tightening.

Let dry 4 or 5 H … with the modern glues, the drying is fast and excellent the resistance .


Take again your assembly and start by sandpapering it slightly, to eliminate the traces of glue and to mask possible small shifts. Possibly, mask the defects of wood or assembly with plasterMix. Give a last sandpapering.

Give two coats of white ordinary acrylic paint while sandpapering slightly before applying the second layer. To finish, pass a fine layer of the color desired for this framework.

Usually, for this finishing coat, I try not to use the dominant color of the picture - here, it is blue (the bue of the sea in Cyclads Islands !) so I chose ther for this frame a very clearly gray with an “old pink” interior edge. This color will match well with the color of the house in the background.

Most of the time, a “broken” white or a black chechmate is appropriate… There are no rules, each one make according to its taste. On my side, I like when the last layer of color lets foresee, as in filigree, the preceding layer of white…

 How to fix the canvas on the frame

This frame has no rabbet… it is not very practical to fix the frame at it… but it is not critical ! (see how to fix a canvas within its frame)

So, on the 2 large sides of the canvas stretchers, screw 2 small eyelet-screw.

Pose the canvas on the back of the frame and now screw two small screws, through the holes of the eyelets, within the frame.

towards 1
(Click to enlarge)

Your canvas is now firmly fixed on its frame.

For more important canvas, envisage 4 eyelets and 4 screws, one by side of the frame.


You have now to hang your framed painting… fix again two eyelets screw, tighten a wire between these two pitons and hang to the wall !

Improvements of this frame

You think that this frame is “too simple”… Here some ideas to improve it and vary the forms from them:

a) false rabbet…

You will stick, with Pattex wood glue, a small lath 0.4"x0.4" under the strip 0.5"x2". For that, trace with the fine pencil a line with 0.25" of the edge, paste the small laths and fix them with small some small nails half-inserted.

How to make a false rabbet in a moulding

Cut out then your frame members and assemble the frame… you will thus have a rabbet to embed your frame and to thus facilitate its fixing with the framework.

b) lists…

If you prefer that the frame has thicker apparent edges… Take again lath 0.4"x0.4" and stick to it this time on the external edge of the lath 0.5"x2"… let's dry, sandpaper and paint…

Increase frame thickness

c) false moulding…

Always in the same catalog (definitely a gold mine for the handymen) we can find lengths of “traditional” casing and moulding “of framing”…


You can perfectly stick a moulding on your strip 0.5"x2" before cutting out the members of your frame. With a little care in cuttings and the completion, you will then obtain for a low coast a frame which can compete with bought in stores frames .

To make the moulding on the picture below, with same dimensions as the precedent (15.9"x10.3" interior), I combined the techniques of false moulding and false rabbet: it is a little more delicate for the cutting of the members but, with some positionning blocks, it's works fine!

Start by sticking a lath 0.4"x0.4" under the strip and glue a moulding on the strip 0.5"x2":


With the picture framer saw , fix your moulding with positionning blocks so that it is quite horizontal. And output then your 4 members (interior dimensions 15.9"x10.3").


Then paste and assemble!



Don't forget to slightly sandpaper, to paint with a fast drying acrylic painting before to fix your canvasinside.

Other way : It is possible to stain the wood and, after drying pass furniture wax... drying again and shining.





The other shapes for mouldings :

Visit this page on which you will find new assemblies of strips to build yourself other mouldings for your frames..

With 2 wood strips O,5"x2" you can create a modern moulding by gluing them with a 0,3" shift...


New moulding out of wood strips