I needed a custom-sized frame for a poster I wanted to put up in our family room, so I bought some wood molding and made my own frame. It’s a pretty simple project that looks great.A DIY tutorial showing how to make a simple picture frame that is light weight and easy to hang

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A few years ago my husband bought me a set of 4 vintage Book Week poster reproductions because I love children’s books. I especially liked poster by Jan Balet because it looks very mid-century modern. I knew it would fit perfectly in our mid-century family room.1953_childrens_book_week_poster

Unfortunately, it’s not a standard size, so that meant either buying a custom frame, which can be a pretty pricey, or making my own. Building my own frame also meant that I could make it look exactly how I wanted it.

As a side note, in the pictures below you get to be up close and personal with my vintage 1950’s shag carpet. Original to the house, which means it’s old, faded, and well used, but also 100% wool and high enough quality to last more than 60 years. I debate whether or not we should replace it, but more on that in some future post.

Frame Supplies

1 strip of 8 foot molding (cut in half at the store so it would fit into the car)
4 flat corner braces and 8 small screws
wood glue
sand paper
gold spray paint
a cheap poster frame for the clear acrylic and backing
2 pop tabs

Cutting the Poster Frame

I found the molding at Lowe’s. Wow, there are a lot of styles of molding. I chose this one because the square geometric pattern on it fit with our mid-century modern style. I had to be careful when I measured and cut so that the pattern on the corners lined up.

measuring the wood for the DIY frame

I measured the inside width and length of the frame, then made quick diagonal marks so I would know which way to cut the angle

My poster is 16 3/4” X 21 1/2”, so the inside of the frame needed to be slightly smaller. To measure the wood molding, I placed my ruler about an inch from the end and made a mark at 0” and at 16 1/2”. Then I moved the ruler a few inches beyond the second mark and measured again, marking at 0” and 21 3/4”. At each mark, I drew a quick diagonal line to help me remember which angle the wood had to be cut. These are the inside measurements, so each cut had to angle 45 degrees out, which is why I left a few inches between.

I used my band saw to make the 45 degree cuts. You don’t need a power saw though. In the past, I’ve used a hand saw and a miter box. It cut well; it’s just a lot more work.

Finished front of the DIY wood frame

The four cut pieces fit together to make a frame

Building the Frame

I used wood glue to put the frame together, then screwed the braces on each corner. The screws had to be really short, about 1/4 of an inch, so they wouldn’t come through the front. With the braces attached, the frame was very sturdy.

back of the DIY frame

corner braces and screws hold the frame together

a brace holds together the DIY frame

close-up of the corner brace attached to the wood

I wanted the wood grain to show through, so I spray painted the frame gold without using any primer. It has great texture and it matches my sunburst perfectly (every mid-century modern room needs a sunburst!)

sunburst and matching gold frame

the painted wood frame with my sunburst

Since this is a light-weight frame for a poster, I didn’t want to use heavy glass. I looked all over to find clear acrylic or plastic, but I was surprised how much a small sheet of acrylic costs by itself, so instead I bought a (larger size) poster frame for just a few dollars at IKEA. I took out the clear acrylic and cut it to the size of my poster with a utility knife. I also cut down the cardboard backing and used that too.

acrylic from another poster frame

the acrylic and cardboard backing from a cheap poster frame

I put the clear acrylic, the poster, and the cardboard backing inside the brackets on the back of the frame, then used masking tape to secure them all inside. The tape doesn’t touch the poster, only the backing, so if I ever need to take the poster out, it won’t be damaged.

pieces of the DIY frame

all the layers for my picture frame

DIY poster frame with all the parts taped in

masking tape on the back of the frame holds everything together

Hanging the Poster Frame

I used pop tabs from soda cans for hanging the frame (a great up-cycle). At first, I was going to nail them onto the frame like I usually do, but I realized I already had screws on the frame that I could use instead. I drilled little holes in the pop tabs and pushed the screws through the holes then screwed them back through the braces.

DIY frame with pop tab hangers

pop tabs from soda cans are a great way to hang picture frames

I like to use 2 pop tabs because with only one hanger on a frame, I am constantly straightening the frame on the wall. Two hooks hold the picture level and in place. The only tricky part is getting two nails even and exactly the right distant apart on the wall. I used blue painters’ tape to measure the distance between the pop tabs, then stuck the tape on the wall and used a level to be sure it was straight. I then hammered nails on the ends of the tape, and hung the picture.

painter's tape to make the frame hang level

painters tape shows exactly where my nails need to go, and I used a level on the tape so the frame will be straight

I’m really happy with how the frame turned out. It fits nicely with that corner of the room and the bookshelves, and it covers a sun-bleached spot on the wall. Practical and beautiful. And pretty simple to make too.

DIY frame with bookcase

the finished frame hanging in our book corner

More Info About the Poster

Each year since 1919, the non-profit group Every Child a Reader celebrates Children’s Book Week to encourage reading, and they ask a children’s book illustrator to create a poster to commemorate the event. There are almost 100 of these beautiful works of art, each done in the style of the illustrator (usually an award-winning illustrator). If you are interested in buying one, Cafe Press sells reproductions of the posters on their website: http://www.cafepress.com/bookweek.