How to Frame a Canvas

how to frame a canvas

Brooke had been saying she wanted something new for the foyer. Feeling a bit inspired, I thought, “Why not paint something myself?” You know I love a good challenge. So I got to work and whipped up an abstract landscape painting. She was ecstatic with the way it turned out and it gave our entryway that personal touch she was looking for.

Painting it was only part of the project. I also built a white oak floater frame for it. So in this tutorial, I’m going to teach you how to frame a canvas.

Material and Tools

  • White oak boards (1/2″ thick) for the frame’s outer part
  • 1×3 pine boards for the frame’s inner support
  • Wood glue
  • Tape Measure
  • Miter saw
  • Table saw
  • Pencil
  • Painter’s tape
  • Black spray paint (for the pine boards)
  • Sandpaper (rough and fine-grit)
  • Nails or screws (ensure they’re short enough to not protrude through the front)
  • 1/4″ spacers
  • Hanging hardware (like a wire or hook)
  • Clamps (to hold the frame pieces together while the glue dries)

Getting Started

First things first, measure your canvas. You’ll want to add a 1/2 inch to both its height and width. This extra space will create a 1/4″ gap all the way around your canvas, making it appear as though it’s “floating” within the frame.

Also measure the thickness of your canvas, and add on 3/4″. This is how wide you will need to cut your white oak boards.

For the frame’s outer part, you’ll be using white oak boards. Inside, for the support and the ledge for your canvas, you’ll need 1×3 pine boards.

Paint the Pine Boards

Before making any cuts, go ahead and give the pine boards a coat of black paint. This will provide a nice contrast and make the floating effect of your canvas even more pronounced. Ensure you cover them evenly and set them aside to dry completely.

I made the mistake of painting them after the frame was built, which created a little more work for myself.

Make the Cuts

Using your table saw, cut the white oak boards the width you calculated above.

Then with your miter saw, cut the white oak boards to the lengths you came up with above and at a 45-degree angle on all of the ends. This ensures the corners fit together just right.

Once that’s done, sand down any rough spots on the oak boards. Start with medium grit sandpaper and finish up with a finer one for a smooth touch.

For the inner part of the frame, measure and cut the pine boards so they’ll fit inside the oak frame, creating an inner ledge.

Build the Frame for the Canvas

Lay out the oak boards in a straight line. Use painter’s tape to stick them together end-to-end.

Then, spread some glue on the angled (mitered) ends. With the tape acting like a hinge, fold the boards to form a rectangle and tape the last corner to hold it

With your oak boards glued and shaped into a rectangle, it’s time to add the now-dry, black-painted pine boards. Apply wood glue to three of the sides of the first piece and place it into the frame so that the back edges are flush. Secure it in place with clamps. Repeat this for the other three pieces.

Mount the Canvas

Lay your canvas in the frame. Then place several spacers on all four sides between the canvas and the frame. This will ensure there’s a consistent gap all the way around.

From the back, secure the canvas by screwing it into the pine boards.

Hanging Your Art

To finish up, add a hanging mechanism, like a wire or a hook, to the back. Make sure it’s sturdy enough for your canvas’s weight.

There you have it! Now you know how to frame a canvas.

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