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How to Make Wooden Picture Frames

For my Reddit Secret Santa this year I wanted to make something from the shop so I decided on a picture frame! It’s a relatively simple build that gives you the flexibility and freedom to DIY your wall photography to your heart’s desire!

And they make perfect gifts for friends and family!

Check out the instructions below and start your framing adventure today!

Materials Needed

  • Enough lumber or moulding to make the frame (math below)
  • Wood glue
  • Painters Tape
  • Glass or Acrylic
  • Points, staples or finish nails

Tools Needed

  • Miter Saw
  • Table Saw (Optional)
  • Strap Clamp
  • Spline Jig (Optional but highly recommended)
  • Flush Cut Saw (If you use splines)
  • Point Driver (Optional, you can use staples or finish nails for this step)


Step 1

Calculate the amount of moulding you’ll need for this project, here’s the math you’ll need to solve:

Moulding Length

(Height  x 2) + (Width x 2) + (Width of Moulding x 8) + 10 = Total Length of Moulding Needed

The plus 10 at the end is to give some “slack” to make it easier to cut.


For a 4 x 6 picture frame, using a 1×2 pine (actual width is 1.5”)

(6 x 2) + (4 x 2) = 20

(1.5 x 8) = 12

20 + 12 + 10 = 42”

So you’ll need 42” inches of 1×2 pine to make your 4 x 6 frame.

Okay, math lesson is over.

Step 2

Once you have your wood, create a rabbit on one edge of the stick. I used a router with a ¼” straight bit, sit to a depth of ¼”. You can use a table saw for this, or even a hand router as well.

Step 3

Now it’s time to cut your sides. To calculate the actual length of each side, you need to do some more math to account for the miter, and the width of your rabbit.

(Width of Moulding – Rabbit) x 2

+ Height or Width of a single side.


To cut one 6” side of your picture frame, this assumes that your rabbit is ¼”.

(1.5 – .25) x 2 = 2.5

2.5 + 6 = 8.5

So your 6” sides of the frame are actually 8.5” inclusive of the miter.

Okay, math lesson is really over now.

You should also add about 1/8 of an inch to this equation to give your photo and glass some wiggle room in the frame. This will help prevent the photo from buckling.

Step 4

Cut your pieces out. If possible, try stacking your sticks and cutting them at the same time to get the best matching cuts possible.

Step 5

Lay out your cut pieces on your table in the correct order (long, short, long, short – or short, long, short, long). Take some painters tape and place on the end of each piece, connecting them at their miter tips (see picture).

Step 6

Take your wood glue, and spread it nice and evenly over the ends.

Step 7

Gentle start folding the frame together. Using the tape to help hold it all in place.

Step 8

Use your strap clamp to get it all nice and tight. Let this sit for a few hours to cure.

Step 9

Once dry, take the frame to your spline jig, and cut out your splines. I’ll be making a whole video on the spline jig, so stay tuned for that.

If you don’t have a spline jig, you can use corrugated joint fasteners to help hold everything together.

You’ll want something though to help keep the frame together as wood can contract and expand due to humidity and temperature shifts throughout the year.

Step 10

Insert your splines with a generous amount of glue and let dry.

Step 11

Use a flush cut saw to take off the excess splines.

Step 12

Sand everything nice and smooth.

Step 13

Finish with an oil, stain, or paint. Whatever you want. It’s your frame!

Step 14

Add your hanging hardware.

Finally, display proudly. Well done! Now you can upgrade your cheap craft store frames with custom, homemade ones that you pounded out in a weekend.

I’m so proud of you.


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