How to Make Picture Frames From Old Barn Wood

Wood salvaged from old barns or other wood structures can be recycled into picture frames to create a charming focal point for any room. Use old barn wood to frame landscape paintings or family photos to give a rustic look to your home. If your décor is French country, you can whitewash the wood and use it to frame a toile fabric. Or coat the wood with a high-gloss paint for a modern-fusion look.

Things You'll Need

  • Salvaged wood planks
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Miter box
  • Saw
  • Wood glue
  • Corner or belt clamp
  • V-nails
  • Hammer
  • Sandpaper
  • Staple gun

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Measure your artwork. Use a tape measure or ruler to find the height and width of the artwork you wish to frame.

Determine the inside measurements of your frame. Subtract approximately 1 inch from both the length and width of your artwork. For example, if your artwork measures 12-by-16 inches, the inside of your frame will measure 11-by-15 inches. The frame opening will be smaller than your piece of art, giving you a 1/2-inch overlap on each side of the artwork where you can attach it to the back of the frame.

Select your wood pieces. Pick pieces with knotholes or nail marks to add character to your frame. Or select smoother pieces with consistent color if you prefer a sleeker look. Choose pieces with a uniform width.

Determine the outside measurements of your frame. Start by measuring the width of your wood pieces. Double the width and add that to the inside measurement of your frame. For example, if your wood pieces are 2 inches wide and your inside measurements are 11-by-15 inches, your outside measurements will be 15-by-19 inches.

Mark your measurements on the wood pieces. Measure off your outside measurements and mark them on your selected pieces of wood. You need two lengthwise pieces and two width-wise pieces.

Cut the wood pieces that will make the four sides of the frame. Using a miter box, start at your marking for the outside measurements and cut a 45-degree angle so that you have an angle cut where you'll be attaching the pieces together to form the corners of the frame.

Lay out your picture frame. On a flat surface, lay the wood pieces down to form your frame.

Glue the corners of your frame. Apply a liberal amount of wood glue to each of the 45-degree angles and press them together. Do this to all four corners. Then secure them with corner clamps or a belt clamp around the entire frame.

Nail the frame joints for added strength. Hammer v-nails into the back of the frame at each corner, joining the glued seams.

Allow the frame to dry. Then sand it lightly to remove any splinters.

Attach your artwork. Using a heavy-duty stapler or staple gun, staple the edges of your artwork to the inner edges of the back of your frame.

Tips & Warnings

  • Choose your v-nails based on the thickness of your wood pieces. V-nails are commonly available in 1/4-, 1/2-, 3/8- and 5/8-inch depths. Make sure the v-nails won't hammer all the way through to the front of your frame.
  • When nailing in the v-nails, the corner of the nails should be exactly at the seam, with the open side of the "v" facing the inside of the frame.
  • Once your frame is complete, you can finish it with a stain and polyurethane, paint or whitewash, or just leave the natural finish.
  • Add a hook for hanging the frame, or prop it up on a mantle or bookshelf.
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