Wood Pallet Projects: Make Your Own Picture Frame

Use these step-by-step instructions to make your own picture frame from recycled pallets.

| August 2013

  • Finished wood pallet picture frame.
    Photo Courtesy Fox Chapel Publishing
  • Get inspired to build with pallet wood using the ideas in “Wood Pallet Projects."
    Cover Courtesy Fox Chapel Publishing
  • Frame Diagram
    Illustration Courtesy Fox Chapel Publishing
  • Step 1: Select the wood.
    Photo Courtesy Fox Chapel Publishing
  • Step 2: Cut the materials to size.
    Photo Courtesy Fox Chapel Publishing
  • Step 3: Understand the layering.
    Photo Courtesy Fox Chapel Publishing
  • Step 4: Choose the molding style.
    Photo Courtesy Fox Chapel Publishing
  • Step 5: Assemble the frame sides.
    Photo Courtesy Fox Chapel Publishing
  • Step 6: Miter one end.
    Photo Courtesy Fox Chapel Publishing
  • Step 7: Measure and mark the other end of one board.
    Photo Courtesy Fox Chapel Publishing
  • Step 8: Cut the marked frame board and use it to cut a second board to size.
    Photo Courtesy Fox Chapel Publishing
  • Step 9: Check the fit.
    Photo Courtesy Fox Chapel Publishing
  • Step 10: Add shellac.
    Photo Courtesy Fox Chapel Publishing
  • Step 11: Assemble the frame.
    Photo Courtesy Fox Chapel Publishing
  • Step 12: Secure the mirror.
    Photo Courtesy Fox Chapel Publishing
  • Use plastic fasteners for a cleaner look.
    Photo Courtesy Fox Chapel Publishing
  • Step 13: Attach a hanger.
    Photo Courtesy Fox Chapel Publishing

In Wood Pallet Projects (Fox Chapel Publishing, 2013), author Chris Gleason offers up projects for rescuing and repurposing wood pallets, from indoor and outdoor furniture to useful items such as a birdhouse, toolbox and more. In this excerpt from  the section“Easy Home Accessories,” learn how to make your own picture frame.

You can purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: Wood Pallet Projects.

Making your own mirror or picture frames can save you a lot of money; the 13" x 13" (330 x 330mm) mirror I used for the project was cut from a scrap piece at my local home center, and it cost just $2. Factor in the free pallet materials and light labor, and I ended up with a one-of-a-kind piece for an unbeatable price. As you’ve probably realized, because the process for making picture frames is the same for making mirror frames, the instructions that follow can easily be used to make both. Professional picture framing is usually pretty expensive, so this is another great way to save money on home decor or gift items. Everybody likes a handmade frame.

There are many ways to make your own picture frame, and this section won’t even try to detail them all—that could easily fill a whole book on its own! What I will do is detail the construction of a couple of types of frames and present some good starting points for making them yourself.



1. Select the wood. The process begins by harvesting a whole bunch of pallet wood. You’ll want to make sure you have enough—it never hurts to err on the side of having extra—and that the pieces are all long enough to be of use.

2. Cut the materials to size. My next step was to rip the wood into the three different widths specified on the materials list (1", 1 1/4", and 2 1/4" [25mm, 32mm, and 57mm]). Then, I sent the wood through my planer to be skip-planed. Skip-planing will result in boards that do not have an entirely uniform thickness or surface. The process should get all of the frame pieces close enough to the proper size to work with—any discrepancies in thickness can quickly be removed by sanding. My boards for this project were about 3/4" (19mm) thick.



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