We recently needed three 18×24 poster frames for some LEGO wall art in our oldest son’s bedroom. We were surprised to find that they can be a little on the spendy side, coming in at around $12-20 a piece. That’s pretty steep, considering that we only had about $7 into the 3 posters we were trying to frame! Fortunately, we were looking for something that wasn’t very ornate, so I decided to make some from plain old 1×2 pre-primed MDF boards.
Less than $4/frame
Time to Build:
Less than an hour for three frames
- 1×2 MDF Board, 8 ft long (makes one 18×24 frame)
- Paint (I used some flat black in a spray can that was sitting around)
- Poster board
- Picture frame hooks
- Masking Tape
- Miter Saw
- Staple Gun
One of the biggest problems with building frames is trying to get the miters to match up perfectly. The source of the issue is that the sides end up being slightly different lengths when you cut them individually on a miter saw. The easiest way around that is to make sure that you cut the pairs of boards that make up opposite sides at the same time to ensure identical pieces. I used painter’s tape to hold two boards together so that each piece would be cut to the exact same length. I also made use of the clamp on my miter saw to firmly hold the boards in place. Sometimes, when cutting miters, the saw tries to pull the material towards the saw, slightly changing the angle. I wanted to ensure tight-fitting miters, hence the clamp.
Another trick that I use when I am cutting angles on the miter saw is to make a quick mark on the work piece to indicate the angle of the cut. Maybe it seems strange, but I can’t tell you how many times I have marked the length of a piece and hurriedly cut it on the miter saw only to discover that I cut the angle in the wrong direction. Marking the direction before I go to the miter saw always helps me remember which way to cut the angle.
The posters were 18×24 and I wanted the frame to overlap the edges of the posters by just 1/4″, so I cut the sides at 20-1/2″ and 26-1/2″.
Once everything was cut to length, I did a quick dry-fit on the workbench to make sure everything would fit together properly. Then I glued the miters and used a ratcheting strap to clamp everything together. I left the clamp on for at least half an hour to allow the glue time to set. I only removed the clamp after the frames were setting on a flat surface for painting so that the joints would not be stressed.
The frames were painted with a can of flat black spray paint I had laying around. After 24 hours of drying time, I attached a hook to each frame. Then the posters were taped to poster board for increased stiffness and the poster board was stapled to the back of the frames. As a final touch, I put a small piece of tape over each staple to prevent them from scratching up the wall.
I’ve never built any picture frames before, but I am pretty happy with the way these turned out – the miters are nice and tight and the joints are strong.
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