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You are currently viewing Build a Picture Frame without a Table Saw

I’ve been searching the web for some direction on how to make some picture frames, but the results so far have been underwhelming. I’m finding that either the how-to articles call for tools I don’t own yet (TABLESAW!), or the tutorials have no pictures and terrible directions (like the books I read, I require the tutorials I follow to include pictures).

With consistently demoralizing results, I decided to make my own.

Here’s what we need:


  • 1/8″ x 1-1/4″ x 8′ Pine Lattice
  • 1″ x 2″ x 8′ Pine or Whitewood
  • Finishing Nails
  • Wood Screws
  • Wood Glue
  • Wood Filler
  • Paint/Stain/Polyurethane
  • Sandpaper
  • Wall Mounting & Frame Hardware
  • Glass cut to size
  • Mat, if desired
  • Cardboard or some sort of backing material


  • Miter Saw or Miter Box
  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Countersink Drillbit
  • Clamps
  • Power sander or Block sander
  • Wet Rag
  • Paintbrush
  • Measuring Tape
  • Photos or Artwork

While this seems like a ton of stuff, most of these materials and supplies you may already own or have lying around. Re-use paint or stain from an older project, for example. Re-purpose some wood or steal your grandmother’s frames and pretend you made them, be creative!

1″x2″s and 1/8″x1-1/4″s

Here’s the deal. We’re going to cut these bad boys down to our desired outside dimensions (“OD”) and then glue them together. The 1/8×1-1/4″ers will secure the glass, photos and backing. In theory.

In order to get a standard 8″x10″ frame, we’ll calculate the outside dimension by adding the frame width (1-1/2″) to the desired inside dimension (“ID”).

Because our frame is going to be 1-1/2″ and there are 2 sides to each frame, we’ll double 1-1/2″ to get 3″. We’ll add that to our desired inside dimension (8″x10″) to get an 11″x13″ outside dimension. Ya still with me?

Set the miter angle to 45 degrees.

Like so!

And make the cut!

Grab your tape measure, Bob Vila.

Measure the outside dimension.

And then the inside dimension.

We’ll use that first piece as a template. Place the 1/8″ piece on top and cut them together, to ensure you have the exact same cut on both pieces. Do this for the opposite side’s pieces as well.

If your measurements are off by even 1/10″, the frame will be off by the time you try to line the last piece up. The first one two three freaking times I did this, the last piece ended up with between a 1″-1-1/2″ gap! You’ll never live up to your brother, Rick.

Get out the glue!

My left hand gluing while photographing needs some work

I take my finger across the line of glue to spread the wealth.

Clamp your piece down and hammer in some brads to hold them together. Don’t hammer the nails in the whole way, we’re going to remove them after the glue dries. If you have more than one clamp (i’m on a tight budget), you’ll get a tighter bond if you keep the pieces clamped until the glue dries.

Wipe down the excess wood glue with a damp rag. Stain/paint doesn’t always agree with the glue.

There we go! I’m going to let the pieces dry and finish up by putting wood filler in any gaps. After that i’ll be countersinking and screwing the pieces together. Later on i’ll get into sanding, painting and all the rest of the good stuff.

The weather went from amazing to  FREEZING almost overnight, what’s the deal!

Use a piece of scrap wood to give you some leverage while pulling out the brads. This also keeps your frame from getting damaged in the process.

Clamp down the two pieces and mark out where you want to screw them together. I went about 1/2″ in or so and only pre-drilled through the first piece. I used a countersink drill-bit to make sure the screws are hidden.

Because there were some small gaps in my miter joints, I went ahead and filled those in with…you guessed it, wood filler! I just used my fingers. I filled in the counter-sunk screw holes as well.

Wood filler is sand-able and paintable.

So I took advantage of that feature and sanded it, along with the rest of the frame. I used 220 grit finishing sandpaper and my hands. No need for the big guns.

With the speed of a baby jaguar, I painted and proceeded to distress the painted frame. Distressed is just a fancy word for sanding random parts of the paint off.

This is a piece of junk frame I stole the glass from for use in a nicer frame. Now i’m going to steal the backing, so it will have nothing left in this world. You could use cardboard, mat-board or whatever.

Marking out the rough opening.

Using my framing square to make sure it’s…square.

Cutting it down to size!

It fits!

In the next update I’ll be getting this glass’d up and hung up. Stay tuned!

Well that took longer than expected! So get this:

After going to Home Depot, who referred me to Menards, who sent me to Lowes, who had no clue what I was talking about…Rachel googled “cut glass in our area” and BOOM! Ace hardware. Next time I’ll be looking this stuff up FIRST!

At long last…custom cut glass. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the meantime I messed around with a few different finishes. I re-distressed the white frame…but this time with my power sander to get some deeper grooves. It adds texture to the frames and looks pretty cool. I re-painted it white and took some fine sandpaper to give it that barnyard look.

On the smaller frame I used the same stain that I used on the desk refinish “jacobean”. I distressed it with sandpaper, wiped it down and threw on a satin clearcoat polycrylic (3 coats).

Glazier points are going to keep our backing, photo and glass secure. Thanks for reminding about these Ryan!

Some photo paper I had lying around.

Look who it is! Honey herself.

These things are great. Very professional.

Just press down your backing firmly and use a screwdriver to push in the points. I did two on the top & bottom, one on the sides.


Photo from our recent trip to the Philippines.

So that ends my journey to create some picture frames without the use of a table saw! I’m happy to report that after this project my miter sawing at an angle skills have improved ten-fold!


One stay at home dad (to be) conquers DIY and Diapers

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Paige Knight

    I love your frames. What if my main frame is a 1×6, what size would I need for the other board?

    1. Rick

      Thanks Paige! You know what, I’m really not sure…hmmm. I don’t know if big box stores sell a 1/8″ thick pine that’s 6″ wide. You could always cut some thin plywood to size? If I can figure out another option I’ll let you know!

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