Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

March 21, 2012

DIY Picture Frame + How to "Fix" a Warped Canvas

How to build a frame for canvas art

I have accidentally become a source for all things related to art (see my answer for choosing a store-bought frame for art by clicking the link).  Well, I'm up for the challenge!  I love all thing art-related.  This post is going to answer two questions frequently asked by my readers:
  1. How can I make my own frame for paintings?
  2. How can I fix a warped canvas stretcher?
You might have noticed in my post about the stairwell makeover that my most recent DIY abstract is now in a bold black frame.  After painting the piece, I noticed the canvas stretcher (the wooden frame the canvas is wrapped around and stapled to) was warped, which must have happened while it was being stored.  When I tried to hang it with wire, it pulled away from the wall on one corner.  Short of taking it apart and rebuilding it, I have yet to find the perfect solution. 

But then I had a light-bulb moment and decided Hubby & I should make a frame that could enable the painting to be screwed to the wall, holding down all four corners and forcing the warp to lie flat.  Success!  So that's why we whipped up a frame this weekend. 

Here's how to make a frame for a painting - and fix a warped canvas at the same time!

  1. Chop saw
  2. 1-1/4" nails & hammer (or a brad nailer, if you have it)
  3. Three 8 foot lengths of 1/2" x 1-1/4" pine (Lowe's calls it "rectangular doweling")
  4. Tape measure
  5. Wood filler
  6. Primer and paint
  7. Painter's tape
 DIY frame for art


Measure the sides of your canvas.  Hubby measured the outside dimensions of the painting and added 1" (two times the dowel thickness). Using the chop saw the wood was cut to length with 45 degree mitered ends. Picture this shape: \----/
    How to use a chop saw

    To attached the frame to the canvas, Hubby used a 2" 18 gauge brad nailer with 1-1/4" nails.  He fastened the frame to the stretcher as well as the other frame pieces (at the corners).  A good old fashioned hammer and finishing nails would work, too.

    DIY frame for art
    Save money framing art and build your own frame
    If your mitered corners aren't perfect, don't fret.  A little wood filler will hide that and after priming and painting, no one will be the wiser.

    Fix mismatched mitered corners with wood filler

    Of course, you could leave the wood natural.  But I opted to paint it black.  

    Now, this is important: if your art is valuable, prime and paint the frame prior to assembling and then just do a bit of touch up after to hide any nail holes, etc.  You do not want to get any paint on a valuable work of art.  But, if this is a DIY project like my painting, it is much easier to assemble, fill holes, and then tape off the frame to prime and paint:

    Build a diy canvas frame

    Screwing Your Painting into the Wall:

    Once the paint was thoroughly dry (I waited a day) I gently scored the tape, removed it and then we screwed the painting to the wall.  If your canvas is NOT warped, just use some screw eyes and picture hanging wire.  But if you want your art really pinned to the wall (a good idea in places it might get bumped into a lot, or if it is warped like mine) follow these instructions:

    For normal drywall walls, use four screws and wall anchors.  However, if you are screwing into a concrete wall (like we were - it is a shared walls between us and the neighbours) use 2-1/2" Tapco concrete screws.  No matter what screws you use: drill four holes through the newly built frame that are larger than the threads of the screws.  This will make sure the frame will be pulled tightly to the wall.  We held up the frame to the wall, positioned it and leveled it.  While Hubby held the painting, I used a hammer and nail to mark where the screws would go (just tap lightly to make a little dent in the wall).  We put down the painting for a moment and Hubby drilled holes into the concrete with a concrete bit (again, no need for this bit if the wall is not concrete).  Then, using a driver bit, Hubs screwed the painting to the wall.  Add a touch of paint on the screws to disguise them, and that's it (I have yet to do that).

     Fix a warped canvas frame
    DIY art frame for painting

    Ta da!

    How to frame your own art


    We actually made the frame a little narrower than the painting, so you can still see where I wrapped the painting around but you can create a frame flush with the edge of your canvas instead.  You can also attach a piece of wood between the frame and the canvas, indented a bit and painted black or a bright colour, like Hubby's grandpa does.  Here's our tutorial for building a DIY float frame.

    Float frame
    Framed art
    How to frame art
    Wood art frame

    You can also wrap the frame around the front of the canvas as well, to totally cover the edge, like Hubby did for this painting I made ages ago:

    Options for framing art

    And, if you prefer, you can skip creating a mitered corner, like Hubby's grandpa has also done:

    Different ways to frame art
    Easy tutorial to build art frame


    1. wow! i want a chop saw now!!! you are so creative, tanya! you inspire me :)

      1. Awww, thanks! Hmmmm - could be done with a hand saw, but that would be a little trickier. Also, some home improvement stores will make cuts for you. So this could be totally doable!

    2. This is a fantastic tutorial and is my answer to all of my warped canvasses! I am so going to do this. BTW- love your art- you are very talented.

      1. Thanks! I promise everything I do is really simple. I don't feel I have talent, I'm just gutsy. I go for it and splash paint around. Sometimes it looks nice, but I also have basement full of rejects that speak to my lack of any real skill. But thanks, I appreciate the compliment.

        I'm also glad I can help!! The canvas will still be warped when removed from the wall (if you ever do), but installed this way keeps it nice and tight and it lies super flat against the wall. A bit of a band-aid solution, but the best I can come up with ;)

    3. This is ingenious! Same look and appeal as floater frame but I bet it cost a lot less! I also love love all the paintings your husband's grandpa gave you. Does he still take any commissioned work? I'd be interested.

      1. Hubby's grandpa would be happy to hear such a kind compliment. I'm not sure he takes commissions, I don't think so. But he does have many, many paintings available for sale. It takes us a day to decide on one - he has been very prolific.

        He works and lives in Parry Sound. Here is his contact info:

        Bert Weir
        (705) 389-2489

        If you do contact him to view his work, just let him know you're a friend of mine ;)

      2. Thanks Tanya. I guess I will need to make a trip up to Parry Sound. :-)

      3. If you contact him, he might be able to let you know if his work is in any other galleries right now. I haven't visited in so long, I'm out of the loop!

    4. I was wondering where the black frame came from - it really makes the art pop. I love discovering that something that looks so awesome is actually simple to do!

      1. Thanks! I'm happy you think it turned out "awesome".

    5. An alternative to a chop saw that costs very little (less than $20)is a miter box and hand saw. I don't do enough DIY projects to warrant a shop full of power tools (but I do love my air stapler!!!). This inexpensive tool will make a decent mitered corner for projects like this. Here's a link to it at Lowe's:

      1. Too funny! Tanya & I were just talking about the blog and I mentioned this. I came to leave a comment and saw you had just left yours!! Great minds . . .

        The Hubby

      2. I was just thinking the same thing! I've got a handy little mitre box that has helped me out with some baseboard trim. It would be perfect for this project. Love these frames! Thanks for this tutorial!

    6. Love your painting, and it looks great in the stairwell :-) Thanks for sharing the framing tutorial and tips. I love the look of frames that are spaced slightly away from the painting - I'm going to get hubby to help me make some frames like that for my paintings :-)


    7. THat is awesome. I love the way it looks so professionally finished now.

    8. fantastic two make one super handy team! LOVE IT!

    9. love this post.
      loving the blog.
      new here - *waves hi* - look forward to following along!
      cheryl xox.

      1. Thanks! Nice to meet you. Thanks for saying "hello"!

    10. Hello from cold Canada!

      I'm so happy I found your post! I've been researching and finally found an easy way to frame all my canvases. Thank you!



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