DIY Floating Frame

Floater Frame, baby!
14.5″ x 32.5″ frame. 13″ x 31″ painting.

Yoyoyoyoyoyoyoyo, hiiiii.  So this post is all about a do-it-yourself floating frame for paintings… a tutorial!  Going to a frame store is a very expensive ordeal.  You can make a painting look way more profesh & substantial by adding a custom frame yourself!  This frame would work best on a 0.75″ deep canvas.  Any deeper, I feel like the painting won’t need a floating frame, for it is already substantial.  Those thicker canvasses are called Gallery Wrapped Canvas, after all.  After googling how-to’s, I thought I’d share, hopefully a concise, fairly easy, power-tool-free way of making these frames at home.  Oh yeah, & very inexpensively.  

You’ll need:

  • A Strap Clamp! Mine is from Bessey, found at Home Depot.  (aka Pony Clamp, Band Clamp) Seen below, obviously, the tool with the straps & red handle.  $20
  • Various $0.99 clamps, Home Depot (they’re like, $2.98 at Lowe’s).  I bought six, more would probably be helpful.
  • Hammer
  • Nails, >1.00″ & 1.25″, preferably finishing nails.
  • oh! Mitre Box with Back Saw, muy importanté! Only $12, comes in a box.  This allows you to cut perfect 45 degree angles in your wood.  Inside the boxed package you’ll find a yellow, boxy cutting guide & a saw.  You just lay the wood flush along the inside of this yellow, boxy guide & slide the saw into the slots that are perfectly angled to 45 degrees, & start sawing away.  There is also a straight-on, 90 degree option.
  • Wood Glue!
  • corner bracing hardware, pictured below, with the hammer driving into the nail next to it.
  • paper towels (for spacers)
  • The Wood!  Square dowels, 0.75″.  Then more wood, 0.50″ on it’s face, 1.50″ depth.  I bought some that already had white primer-paint applied.  You can cut these to a more manageable size right in Home Depot for free.
  • Paint, or Stain, optional.
  • Your painting.  For this DIY, I used a 0.75″ deep painting, which is important in the measurements of this specific tutorial.  If you have a deeper canvas, you’d have to buy deeper wood, than the 1.50″ deep wood listed above.  The square dowels would have to be bigger too, in order for the painting to sit flush with the finished frame.
  • Pencil & ruler, yada, yada, yada.
  • Felt pads, small, circular, peel & stick.
  • This Formula!  My canvas measures 13″ x 31″ x 0.75″ deep. I want my gap (between the edge of my painting & the frame, for that floating effect), to be 0.25″.  Sooo, therefooore, you take that gap measurement of 0.25″, times that by two, which equals 0.50″.  

   The width of the face of the frame is 0.50″ remember.  So also times that by two, & you’ll get 1.00″.

   Sooo, your finished frame will be an 1.5″ bigger than you’re painting (measuring from the outside of the floating frame).  Hopefully, this makes sense, it is the key to    making the frame.  Double the gap size, double the frame’s front size, add those figures up & then add that to the size of your painting.  So              adding that 1.5″ measurement onto this particular painting, & my frame will be 14.5″ x 32.5″.

The Steps:

  • Bust out that ole’ mitre box with saw!  Cut that 1.5″ x 0.5″, pre-primed wood!  At the 45 degree angle, of course.  From that cut, measuring from the outside of the frame (as opposed to measuring from the inside edge), measure & mark 14.5″ (or 32.5″, depending on which side of the frame you want to start first).  Put that in that mitre box & saw baby, saw!  Aaaand repeat three more times.  
  • Now take your square dowel.  Cut a 45 degree angle in that one!  So check this out, very, very, very important as well: the square dowels are going to be an inch shorter than the floating frame that everyone will see!!!  So take your final frame measurement which is listed lastingly above, in the stuff You’ll Need section, and minus an inch, that’ll give you your square-dowel measurements!!!  So, either measure & mark off 13.5″ or 31.5″ & cut that stuff baby, just cut it!!!  Repeat three more times until you have all the cut wood for all sized of your frame.
  • Next bust out that ole’ wood glue!  Glue the dowel to the inside of the 1.5″ piece of wood, making sure it is flush with the backside of the frame.  Clamp all that down (I used three clamps).  Wipe away excess glue that gets squeezed out!  Dry for the allotted time the wood glue directions say to let dry, my brand said three hours.  Guess what, repeat three more times.  
  • After that, unclamp & hammer appx three short finishing nails through for added strength.  Be very careful that the nails aren’t long enough to go through the other side (the finished side that people will see) of the floating frame!!! (So it should be less than an inch)   Repeat x3.  
The gluing & the clamping.
The wood appearing immediately above this caption, illustrates one side of the frame, where the glue has fully dried & reinforced with finishing nails.
  • Next, I actually painted the frame an Ultramarine Blue, & the square dowels black before I proceeded.  Next time, especially for a straight black, or stained frame, I’d do this step after assembling all four sides.  I also used acrylic paint out of a tube.  Next time, I’d use spray paint.  It’ll have a much smoother, more even finish that way.
  • Okay, now for the tricky part (now, for the tricky part?!  Yes, now for the tricky part).  Bust out that ole’ Pony Clamp/Band Clamp/Strap Clamp!  Glue the edges of your wood! Fit them together in a rectangluar formation, strap down those… strapy straps from the clamp, & tighten!  Wipe down excess glue squishing out.  Let dry.  
Getting it... squared away! Yuk, yuk, yuk.
Getting it… squared away! Yuk, yuk, yuk.
  • After drying time, I installed the little corner braces for added strength.  Pretty key, I’m paranoid that some day, the frame might just fall apart hanging on the wall.  All the nails & corner braces will bring added strength to the piece.
  • Your floating frame is complete!!! Hurray!!! Now to actually place the painting in the thing.  As the picture below illustrates, I took paper towels, folded them up, stuck them between the painting & the frame.  I turned the whole thing over & hammered 1.25″ finishing nails from the backside.  These size nails will ensure they won’t poke through to the front of the painting, since the depth is now 1.5″.  

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  • Now to install the hardware to hang the thing up!  Also, I forgot to mention which is optional, you can apply protective varnish over the frame, if you’ve painted it like I have.  
  • Now you have a substantial, professional-looking piece of art that will be able to make any meh painting look bad-ass, or have an awesome painting just look even more professional!  Hang & enjoy!  
  • PS! Peel & stick circular felt pads for the backside.  This allows the frame & wall to breath, & protects the wall as well! 😉

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Hi!