A Rustic or Western Style Picture Frame

My wife simply isn’t into woodworking. That’s fine. Everyone has their own hobby. But sometimes when all of the stars align and the moon is full my wife actually want’s to make something out of wood. Well, the stars and moon part was a bit of a stretch but this past weekend my wife did surprise me with a project request for the two of us. She wanted to take a childhood picture out of a boring, beat up frame and give it new life by making a new rustic/western style frame. Sure! I’m down for that.

The original picture has a bit of sentimental value to my wife from her childhood. It’s of two horses on a white background. My wife is a huge horse and western fan by the way. Most everything in our house has either a rustic or western charm to it. Anyway, the original frame doesn’t match anything we have and just feels out of place. Here’s the original.

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And the goal was to somewhat duplicate this particular frame and add our own touch to it.

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The material I chose is red oak. I’ve got a bunch of smaller offcuts that need to be used and this is a perfect situation. These two boards were more than enough for the profile material.

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And here’s the profile. This pic already has one of the miters cut on it but basically it’s a 3/4” thick board that is 1-5/8” wide. There is a 3/8” x 3/8” rabbet cut on the inside back edge to accept the image. On the top side there is a 3/8” wide by about 3/16” deep dado that starts 7/16” in from the outside edge. Finally a 45 degree chamfer is cut on the inside top edge. If none of this makes sense you can just download the SketchUp file I made for it here.

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Once assembled the frame will need an exterior band of 1/4” thick material. These strips are 1/4” thick and 1-1/8” wide. I cut extra in case I screwed something up and also because I wanted to use up a scrap board.

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Assembly is pretty simple. With glue in the joints I used a band clamp to hold everything together. Because I wanted to get to work on the exterior trim immediately I shot a couple staples in each joint from the back side so I could remove it from the band clamp.

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While I was doing that my wife figured out the inlay options. The original had a barbed wire inlay which looked great. However, we don’t have any barbed wire laying around. So my wife though of using twine instead. And then though of braiding it to give it a thicker, more substantial look. Sounds good to me!

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While she was braiding the twine I cut and fit the exterior mitered trim. These are attached with glue and a few pin nails to hold them in place while the glue dries. You can see that the joints of the frame opened up a bit here. I accidentally stressed the joints while moving it around. It’s not a big deal though as there will be corner bracing added on top of these joints later.

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Using the same material as the exterior band I cut four matching 45 degree braces to fit on top of the mitered joints. No installation of these just yet though.

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The stain we used was Minwax Dark Walnut. I think it turned out great. After staining it and letting the stain dry for a while she hot glued the braided twine into the inlay area. Hot glue was only used in the corners.

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Finally, a little more hot glue and some pin nails will hold the braces in place and cover up the glue used to secure the twine.

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While my wife didn’t do much of the building as she still isn’t comfortable using the power tools yet she was still absolutely thrilled with our progress.

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The last step was to add the sawtooth hanger and secure the glass and picture in place with a few small brad nails.

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And here’s the final result. While it was a super simple project to knock out it was also a ton of fun hanging out with my wife in the shop. That’s something that rarely happens so I try to make the most of those situations. My wife got the upgrade she wanted and I got more shop time with her. Win-Win situation. Here’s a link to the SketchUp file containing the exact frame we made for those who are interested. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

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11 Comments

  1. Tom

    Different Tom, same comment: Classy.
    We use a similar rustic frame (from H**** L***) to hold presentation certificates for visiting lecturers. It is well received.

  2. Mike

    Looks good Jay. I’ve made similar “rustic” frames before with barb wire and the metal ends of spent shotgun shells in the corners. I didn’t put the barb wire in a dado. Probably would have worked better. Just didn’t think of it at the time. Keep up the good work.

  3. John Harris

    How do you like that Harbor Freight pin nailer? I’ve been thinking about adding one to my collection of other sized HF nailers/staplers.

    1. Woodhog

      I have the same nailer and love it. My neighbor across the street builds rabbit cages and he uses one as well and gives it well lets just say it would enjoy a warm climate for eternity. It has held up through everything and is the reason I bought one. And I have never really had much trouble from any of my HF equipment and when I did, they replaced it without grumbling or arguing. Including one of their mini lathes my boss bought and it went bonkers. One day before the warranty expired and they replaced it without any argument.

    2. Richard Rodgers

      I have the same HF pin nailer and have put several hundred thru it without a jam or misfire yet. Hope I don’t Jinx myself on it now.

  4. Caleb

    Love it. Working on a picture frame project myself using oak pallet wood. Saw the band clamp in your picture, immediately went to Amazon to buy one myself.

    1. Frank Griffin

      You will love the mechanism that tightens the band! With practice you will be able to position the corners on the strap to be in the right place when you tighten. I bought the Bessey strap clamp. Say goodbye to those pathetically crude ratchet clamps!

  5. Jeff

    I have that same Pin nailer from Harbour Freight, If it is a 23 gauge.
    I like it a lot. It leaves no mark in the wood.
    Jeff

  6. Richard Rodgers

    I really like the way that turned out as well , nothing like the stuff you find in a store unless you pay a ton of $$ for them.
    But I have to ask one question , Are those your Normal Shop Scissors ( the Pink ones ) or are those your Wife’s ?

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