Wednesday, February 29, 2012

DIY: How to Make Frames from Moldings

Overview:  The frame is made by making a rectangle out of moldings or casings and then making a smaller rectangle out of square dowels that fits inside of the larger rectangle to hold the glass. 

- Molding/Casing/Boards  (must have one flat edge that is atleast 5/8" thick - I used casing so its flat )
- 3/8” Square Dowels
- Glass - Cut to size of picture you would like to frame
- Particle Board/ Cardboard  (for backing of frame) - Maximum thickness for board or paneling -1/4"
- V  Shaped Nails/Double Point staples
- Wood Glue
- Wood Putty
- Sand Paper
- Paint
- Turn Buttons (Optional)
- Stand (Optional)
- Stand Hinge (Optional)
- Hand Saw or Miter Saw
- Miter Box
- Hammer
- Silicone Glue or Glue Gun 

Determine the frame opening size that you want.  You can use a standard photograph size or a custom size.  Just keep in mind that if you choose a custom size, you will have to get custom cut glass.  Certain Lowes locations will do this for you.  If you choose a standard photograph size, you can buy glass that is pre-cut at Hobby Lobby, Michaels and other craft stores.

Once you have determined the frame size, add 5/8” to the length and width to determine the interior measurements of the moldings.  Miter each molding piece so that the interior/short side of the piece matches the needed measurement.  For example, if you would like a frame for an 8”x10” photograph, you’ll cut two molding pieces that are 8 5/8”  (interior/short side measurement) and two molding pieces that are 11 5/8” (interior/short side measurement). 

Lay out the moldings in a rectangle and check to make sure the pieces line up properly.  Don’t worry if there is a little gap, you can fix that with wood putty.   Glue the molding pieces together with wood glue.  Allow to dry.

Moldings have been glued and are drying
Miter the dowels so that the outer edge of the dowel is the same size as the inner measurement of the moldings.  The goal is to build a dowel rectangle that fits snugly inside the molding.

Dowels should fit inside molding - this is the top view
Flip the molding frame over so that the front side rests on a flat surface.  Glue the outer edge of the dowels to the interior of the molding frame.  The dowels should be flush with the top of the molding frame. 

After Gluing Dowels - Dowels should be flush with top edge of casing -Glass will fit under dowel
Allow to dry.  Use v-nails to nail together the molding pieces to reinforce the wood glue.  See Diagram. Use more nails if you're building a larger frame or use metal brackets to reinforce. 

Caulk or putty any gaps in the joints on the front of the frame. Sand the joints and paint.

Now you’re ready to insert the glass. Turn frame over so that the back of the frame is up. Apply glue to the top of the dowels. Insert the glass – it should rest on top of the glue.   If you're using a hot glue gun, apply a thin bead on the inside edge then insert the glass and press down firmly on top of the glue to flatten out the glue. 

Allow to dry.

To make the backing, cut cardboard or thin paneling to match the size of the glass. Insert into the back of the frame. Use turn screws, staples or tape to hold the backing in place.   If you're using staples or tape, but sure to insert picture before backing. 
Turn Button - I had no idea that's what these things were called until this project

Backing in place
If you plan to hang the frame, attach a hanger and your frame is complete.
I used sawtooth hangers.  You could also use wire and eye hooks.
 I think that's the perferred method for large or heavy frames. 
If you don't want to hang the frame, cut a stand from heavy cardboard or thin particle board or paneling.  Use the template on the diagram above as a rough guide.  Make sure that the stand is not visible from the front of the frame in case you decide you want to hang the frame.

Frame stand with hinge attached

Attach the stand to the back of with a hinge.  I found special picture frame hinges that you can just hammer directly into the frame and stand - no screws or nails are necessary. 
Special hinges with teeth you hammer directly into frame
Your frame is complete!


  1. Hi I love this idea! Where did you find all the hardware? Like the frame stand hinge and sawtooth hangers?

  2. I actually found the sawtooth hanges and the stand hinges on E-Bay. But they're also available on Amazon. Unfortunately, I could only find the stand hinges in large quantities.