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How I Make Floater Frames

WANNA TAKE YOUR PAINTING ON CANVAS TO THE NEXT LEVEL?

BEEN WONDERING HOW TO MAKE THAT PAINTING YOU DID ON WOOD LOOK A LITTLE BETTER?

Greetings All! I figured out how to make frames that worked with my paintings by watching videos on youtube and making lots of mistakes. I have been painting on 3/4" birch plywood so this frame is sized for that, but you can use the exact same technique on any substrate of any size (stretched canvases are lovely framed this way) by adjusting the measurements. You'll see...Just follow along and feel free to comment below if you have any questions.

1) USE THREE PIECES OF WOOD 

 For this demonstration I am using: (two) 2" x 3/4" x 8' and (one) 3/4" x 1/4"x 8' pieces of wood. I purchased mine at Home Depot. 

2) USE WOOD GLUE AND CLAMPS

I like Elmer's Wood Glue. I go about it by squeezing out a long line of glue and then using a piece of cardboard to spread it out like bread and butter. If you let the glue sit in the open air for a minute or two it seems to work best. Let it it get tacky. Then, place the pieces together and clamp them in place. 

Start out by pairing the two same sized ones like this:

Then add the third smaller piece (we've been calling this one "the fantom"...you'll see why later). Simply glue and clamp and let it sit overnight. Drying time depends greatly on temperature and climate. 

3) MEASURE YOUR PAINTING 

My painting was 24" length x 24" width. So I needed to cut four mitered pieces all the same. Obviously, if you are working with a painting that is perhaps 18" x 24", you would need to cut two sides measuring 18"each and two other sides measuring 24" each, right? 

4) USE A MITER SAW SET AT A 45 DEGREE ANGLE 

Trim off the first piece. Pay attention to which way you are aiming the blade. You always want to be pointing in the direction of the painting. No math or measuring going on yet...just get a nice clean cut.

5) MEASURE OFF YOUR FIRST PIECE AND CUT IT

Remember, the painting will be sitting on that inside ledge, so you want to measure and cut accordingly. Think about where the corners of the painting will be when resting in the frame. Use a measuring tape and mark your spot with a sharp pen or pencil. Take your time...measure twice, cut once :) 

The red dot on the image below shows you where the corner of the painting will be. That is where you do your measuring from. 

The piece in the photo below measures 24" from one red dot to the other. Now, we just need 3 more exactly like that one! 

6) MEASURE AND CUT THE OTHER PIECES

Again, I am framing a square here, so I need four equal pieces. You may need to work on two sets of equal pieces for your length and width. Regardless, it's important to measure carefully. I encourage you to continue using your measuring tape, but another way to go about it is to line up the first piece and use it as a template of sorts to mark off the the next one. Like this: 

Finally after several cuts (you will find there's more than four because you will need to be changing the direction of your 45 degree angle), you will have four lovely sides ready to glue together!

7) GLUE THE FOUR PIECES TOGETHER

Using wood glue once again, spread a generous amount in eac corner and then line the frame up and press it all together. There are other ways to secure the frame for drying. I do not claim to be a wood-worker...but I have found using a strap sufficient. This strap actually came with some kind of crank for tightening and nice metal corners that could be used for bracing, but I got frustrated with the crank and lost the corners. So, now I just wrap the frame tightly with the srtap and then use a pinchy clamp to secure it.

You'll want to make sure that the surface that your frame is drying on is level. Once it is glued and secure in the strap, adjust the corners to make sure everything is flush with the surface below and looking even on top. Let it dry over-night again. 

8) REINFORCE THE CORNERS WITH STAPLES

I just used a staple gun with quarter inch staples. 

9) PAINT THE FRAME

This part is totally up to you. You could sand it and stain it for a natural wood look. Or you could do what I do, which is use a primer spray paint for a flat black, kind of aged look. Or go glossy! Whatever best compliments your art. Just one thing to keep in mind...Beware of paint on the backside that might rub off on walls. You may want to apply a sealer or add some of those little soft circle pads to the corners. 

I have been enjoying giving the frames a distressed look. I like the flat black primer and I even sand the edges to rough them up a bit. 

10) INSTALL THE PAINTING

This is the fun part (imo)! Drop your painting in and have a look! Assuming all is well, it's time to install the painting. If by chance things did not turn out just right or the painting is not fitting, message me and I may be able to help. There are a few things you can do to troubleshoot. Still, I have had to scrap a few myself.

To secure the painting to the frame, I like to add several dots of glue to the ledge that the painting sits on and then position the painting just where I want it. This way if there is wiggle-room, you can center the piece prior to screwing it in place. While drying, protect the painting with a lint-free fabric (like a pillowcase or other linens) and then put some weight on it. After it sets, flip it over and attach it to the frame with a few wood screws. Lastly, attach a wire for hanging and you're finished!

I hope you found this helpful. Please feel free to ask questions below. And if you happen to use this lesson to frame one of your painting, please share a photo too!

Happy Arting To You, 

Gritty Jane

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Comments

  • Well I've been working on making my first frame today and so far so good!! I'll post a picture after I've painted it. Thank you so so much!!! Your photos and process were perfect Jane. Thank you!!❤️
    • Neato Rose! It's a bit of work but so rewarding :) 

  • Hi Jane, Love the frame plans but it looks like your photo's of wood sizes don't match your measurements. I want to use your plans and want to be sure I understand the measurements.  Wood pieces needed are (two) 2" x 3/4" x 8' and (one) 3/4" x 1/4"x 8' pieces of wood. If you check the picture in step number 5, it looks like you used   One 2" x 3/4" x 8' and one  3/4" x 1/4" x 8' and  One 1" x 1" x 8'.  Could you check that for me please?  Thank you.

    • But even if it was the way you saw it, it would still work, actually. It would just look a little chunkier :)

    • Nope. That just looks odd from that angle. Its 2 of one kind and one of the other. I can see how you'd think that side piece looks different. It's just the angle.  

  • I like these way better then the ones I get from Jerry's or Blick and way cheaper too.  I am not great at woodworking but think I could do this.

    Can I ask you about the birch plywood you are painting on?  I am thinking that you use the kind that has the furniture grade finished wood on the outsides?  I didn't know you could use this as a substrate and it seems like it would be economical substitute for people who go through canvas and cradled boards like I seem to.  I guess you haven't had issues with it warping if you are using 3/4"?  

    • The birch I use is smooth. I chose it for several reasons. I have painted on many kinds of wood and so far birch is my favorite. The things I like about it is:  it is hard (doesn't bow easily), it's relatively light, and it is smooth. I get it from Home Depot. Usually I just ask them to chop it up into random pieces with that big wall saw :) 

      About frames: I have purchased some online and they kept on chipping! Making them is hard though. It is time consuming and takes space and the proper tools but it's not that bad. Especially if you set aside a day and make several at a time. 

      • Yes, it is called 3/4" I think. I hate that measuring system because it's not what they really measure! But yeah...I think it's called 3/4" :) 

        • One more thing. I'm not sure about what you mean by furniture grade...but if you have anything with varnish on it, I suggest you hit it with a sander first and then prime it :) 

This reply was deleted.

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