Wood picture framing kits make it easy for you to frame your own paintings. The frames that I recommend can be used to frame canvas panels or even a standard 3/4″ canvas.
These framing kits are much more affordable than taking it to a picture framer. The end result looks professional and you’ll probably be able to get it done faster than a frame shop!
These sectional frames are available in pairs in a variety of lengths. This will allow you to create a frame of almost any size.
You don’t need to cut the wood or miter the corners, that’s already done. All you have to do is glue the wood strips together and pound in the plastic thumbnails into each corner. Attach a picture hanging wire and you’re done.
Before you begin, you’ll need some supplies which I’ve listed below.
I also made a YouTube video that demonstrates how to assemble a frame (see below).
*Please wear safety glasses to protect your eyes when you use tools.
Table of Contents
Tools and Materials
Below is a list of the tools and supplies that you’ll need to assemble your wood frame so you can frame your own paintings. You probably already have some of the tools such as a hammer, wood glue, etc.
The only tool that’s not very common is a point driver. And it’s only for securing the painting into the frame.
The point driver that I list is what I use in the YouTube video. It’s somewhat expensive but I think it’s a good investment.
I bought it around 10 to 15 years ago and it still works like new. It has saved me a lot of money because I don’t have to pay for custom framing.
If you’re looking for something more affordable, you may want to check out my post 3 Ways to Frame a Canvas Panel. It has a table that compares the different types of point drivers, including the manual options.
*The links in this article lead to Amazon and Blick Art Materials are affiliate links. This means if you click on a link (including photo links) and make a purchase, I earn a commission at no cost to you.
Wood Picture Frames for Paintings
There’s a wide range of frames available for framing paintings. I’ve been using the Ayous wood frame kits from Nielsen Bainbridge. They’re affordable, lightweight, and easy to assemble.
They’re made from Italian woods. I bought the natural finish but they also come in black if that’s what you prefer.
As for the lengths, the shortest is 8″ and they go up to 40″. The shorter lengths come in 1″ increments.
At about 18″ the increment increases to 2″ and the last few sizes increase by 4″.
Nielsen Bainbridge Ayous Wood Frame Kit – 8” x 1-1/8”,
from: Blick Art Materials
Remember, these are pre cut frame pieces. They’re already cut to length and the corners are mitered at 45 degrees.
Upon closer inspection you’ll notice that they have slots routed in the corners. These slots are for the plastic thumbnails that come with the frame.
What Are Picture Framing Thumbnails?
Thumbnails are plastic inserts that you push into the grooves in the corner of the frame. They help to make the frame stronger than if you were to just use glue to hold the wood strips together. Thumbnails also help to align the corners when you’re assembling the frame.
The name “thumbnail” comes from the idea that you can just push them into the frame with your thumbs. However, I find that it takes too much force to be able to use your thumbs to push them in.
For this reason, I suggest that you use a hammer to tap them in. You can use a regular house hold claw hammer, but in this video I used a smaller tack hammer. I’ve also used a rubber mallet in the past.
Different manufacturers have slightly different thumbnails but the concept is basically the same. The ones from Nielsen Bainbridge have one end that’s flat and the other end is round.
You want to have the flat end facing up so that it will be flush when you’re done assembling it.
How to Assemble the Wood Frame
Putting this wood frame together is rather easy to do. It only takes a few minutes but you should allow time for the glue to dry. I usually let it dry over night before I put the painting in the frame and hang it on the wall.
Glue the Corners and Pound in the Thumbnails
I like to protect my desk and the frame by laying a piece of chipboard down on my work surface. In the video, I use the backing board from a sketch book because it’s thick.
Corrugated cardboard probably wouldn’t work too well because the corrugated part will get crushed when you hammer the thumbnails into the frame.
Lay out the sections of the frame so that they match. If it’s a square frame then all of the sides will be the same so that wouldn’t matter. In my case, I have two 8″ strips and two 10″ strips so you have to put the longer ones across from each other.
The basic steps for assembling the frame are outlined below, with pictures.
These are the basic steps to assembling a wood picture frame kit. If any part of it doesn’t make sense, it may be helpful to watch the video at the top of the post.
The next step is to secure the painting inside of the frame and to add hardware.
How to Secure a Painting in a Frame
If you have a point driver, it’s very simple to secure the painting in the frame. Just place the painting in the frame. Then you can drive a point or two on along the edges to hold the painting in place.
How many points that you use depends upon how big the painting is. On a small painting you can get away with one point per side.
Fletcher MultiMaster Framer’s Point Driver – $150.49
from: Blick Art Materials
The Final Step-Add Hardware to the Frame
You’re almost done and it’s time for the last few steps. You’ll need some way of hanging the picture on the wall.
The best way to hang a framed painting on a wall is to use picture hanging wire. There are saw tooth hangers (link to Blick) that you can nail into the top of the frame but I don’t think they’re as secure as a wire. I’ve found that many galleries won’t accept saw tooth hangers for that reason.
What Is the Best Picture Hanging Wire?
I like the stainless steel picture hanging wire that has a plastic coating on it. The plastic coating makes is easier to handle. Without the coating the wire can unravel. That might not seem like a problem but the individual wires tend to poke into your skin when tying the wire or even when you’re trying to hang it on the wall. It works better than nylon wire too.
OOK Framer’s Pro Wire – 30 lb – $3.65
from: Blick Art Materials
I’ve also tried the invisible wire (link to Amazon) which I believe is made from clear nylon. Plastic wire doesn’t seem like it would be able to hold much weight, but here’s a link to a roll of it on Amazon that’s rated for 50 pounds.
The advantage to nylon wire is that it’s easy to cut, all you need is a pair of scissors. The disadvantage is that it tends to hold its original shape so it wants to coil around itself. Tying a knot in it seems to be difficult too. I prefer the plastic coated wire.
How to Install Eye Hooks in the Frame
You need something on the frame you can tie the wire to. Eye hooks will work and they also have D rings. I tend to use D rings for larger paintings and I use small eye hooks for the small paintings.
A common suggestion is to drill the holes about one third of the way down from the top of the frame. In the video I put a vertical painting into the frame so I would divide 10 inches by 3 which is 3.33″. That’s kind of difficult to measure on a ruler that’s in fractions, so I just round it up to 3.5″.
I made a mistake in the video where I measure from the top out side edge for the right side. Then on the other side I measure from the inside edge of the frame. That was easy to fix but it was a waste of time, so learn from my mistake and pay attention to where you’re measuring from.
Another tip is to mark how far you need to drill by putting a small piece of masking tape on the drill bit. You don’t want to drill all the way through the frame and this is a simple trick that will help you to avoid that.
Tying a Knot in the Picture Hanging Wire
There are multiple ways to tie a knot in picture hanging wire but this is the knot that I’ve been using. I first found it years ago on the back of the packaging for the wire.
You can watch me tie it in the video which has a nice close up that you can follow.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to make the wire too taught. You need to leave some slack in the wire.
If you don’t leave some slack in the wire then it can be hard to hang the picture on the wall because the wire is too tight.
When I hang a picture I find that I use my free hand to guide the wire onto the hook. If the wire is too tight you wouldn’t be able to do that.
Another reason for not making the wire too tight is that you don’t want to add any extra tension to the frame. Really large and heavy paintings may require two hooks and that needs some slack in the wire too.
Use wire cutters (Amazon link) to cut the wire. The wire is thick enough to damage scissors.
You want to wrap the extra wire around itself instead of cutting it close to the knot.
Use Rubber Bumpers to Protect Your Walls
I like to add those small rubber pads to the back corners of the frame. They serve a couple of purposes.
For one, they protect the wall. Picture frames can leave scuffs on the wall specially if it’s been hanging in the same spot for a long time.
3M Bumper Pads Pack – Clear, Pkg of 18 – $4.85
from: Blick Art Materials
They also help prevent the painting stay in place which may help prevent it from going crooked over time.
If your wall is uneven, these may also help keep the painting from wobbling on the wall since there are only four small points of contact with the wall.
Adding these finishing touches can also help create a good impression when you sell or exhibit your work.
Switching out the painting for a new one is very easy if you use flexible points. To remove the painting, all you have to do is bend the points back and lift the painting out of the frame. Then put the new painting in and bend the points back down.
This only works if you have a point driver that works with flexible points. If you use rigid points then you’ll have to remove them in order to be able to remove the painting.
In the video I change a painting in the frame in under 20 seconds. This is really handy when you do a lot of art shows and want to reuse frames.
These wood frame kits are for canvas too. They will fit a canvas that’s 3/4″ thick. You would use the point driver to secure it in the frame just like you would a panel.
The points that I use have a hole in the middle that you can drive a screw through for extra security.
Aside from using traditional frames like these, you can also use floater frames or frames made especially for panels. I cover these framing options in my post 3 Ways to Frame a Canvas Panel which includes a video too.