Home Inspiration

DIY – Cutting & Re-Sizing Thrifted Frames in Less Than 15 Minutes.

If you want to know the “why’s” for using Thrifted Frames for DIY Custom Picture Framing . . . go back and check out the previous posts here and here.

Otherwise, let’s just get to it.

One you’ve picked out your frames (see here for more on what to choose). The actual construction part goes pretty darn fast.

Measure, Measure Some More & Then Measure Again

Once you cut you can’t take it back. You know the old saying “measure twice, cut once.’ I say measure a FEW times, get it right the first time.

In my case I wanted the frame to come right up against the art prints with no boarder or matting. I want the frame to feel like it’s essentially a part of the art itself.

This requires some precision in measuring and cutting. I don’t want to conceal any of the art, but I also don’t want to have any of the outside edge beyond the art sneaking into the view.

I measured the art from edge to edge, both horizontally and vertically. I then reduced the measurement of each width by 1/4′. This way the frame will come in on the art just an 1/8 of an inch all way around. Ensuring it’s all covered, but without losing much.

Mark It

Using a thin marker or pencil, Measure the inside edge of the frame very precisely to the size of your print, then minus 1/4″ to determine your cut size.

This can be a little tricky, Be sure to mark your cuts from opposite corners. You’ll cut away two opposing corners and keep two opposing corners. Does the make sense? Be sure you mark it that way.

I add a little note to myself by marking which way the cut should go on the 45 angle. This is just because I’m easily confused and have been known to cut my corners the wrong direction . . . more than once . . or twice. . . If you’re not as easily confused as I am just skip this.

Cut It

Set-up your Miiter saw to 45 degree angles.

Place your frame on the saw. Be extra sure it’s pushedALL THE WAY up against the back gate of the saw and laying flat and square on the cutting/table surface.

With the blade not turning, pull the saw down to the cut mark and adjust as needed.

IMPORTANT TIP: The cut will be the width of the blade. While this seems like just a minisucal amount, it will actually make a difference and will effect wether the finished frame is square – or not. Be extra sure the blade lines up on the outside of the measurement line you marked. You want to cut away outside of the measurement, not inside. the measurement. Meaning, be sure you cut away the part you DON”T want to use.


Slightly sand the cut ends smooth if needed.

Be sure to clean away all dust with a soft cloth and some rubbing alcohol. Let it dry for a minute before you glue.

Squeeze and spread a glue formulated for wood (I personally like E6000) on the ends. Use enough for good adhesion but not so much you get lots of glue oozing out when you attach the pieces together.

Set all the pieces and then clamp them tightly together with a squaring device. I really like the way a squaring strap works for this.

Thourghly clean away any glue that is oozing out of the seams.

Let the glue dry and set for several hours before adding the security of the V-Nails.

Using a Squaring Strap

Adjust the corner blocks on the strap so that each of the four corners of the frame fit snuggly into each of the four blocks. Turn the screw on the strap to tighten the corners snuggly.

Install V-Nails

I experienced a massively frustrating trial and error learning curve here. Let’s just say this was a growing experience for me. There may have been some ‘inappropriate” words used. . . maybe something mechanical got chucked . . . I may have had to take a little time out to pull myself together.

I bought an expensive power V-Nailer. I figured I was doing enough of these to justify the cost of making it “easier” for myself. Ummm . . . should have done my homework.

I could not get the darn thing to work. It jammed over and over and over. The v-nails wouldn’t penetrate the wood frames. Of course it came with NO instructions – ZERO. I looked online, still no instructions- except in Chinese. I took the whole thing apart to see how it worked so I could asses what the problem was.

Finally I looked online at the reviews. Horrible reviews – for all the same issues I was having. I wasn’t doing it wrong, it was just a piece of crap equipment to start with.

I looked online to see if there was another, better brand of V-Nailer. All the reviews I read for every brand concluded the same thing, they ALL suck and don’t work. Several blogs I looked at recommended that a good old fashioned hammer and simple magnetic setting tool work fantasticly.

Ordered a magnetic setting tool from Amazon and valla! It was SO eazy-pezzy!

Just goes to show, sometimes Old School is still the best school!

How to Set V-Nails

It’s pretty straight forward. You really DO need the magnetic nail setter. It’s worth the $16 – save yourself the heartache and just get one before you start this project.

I set the v-nails with the Corner/ Squaring Straps still secured to the frame to keep the impact of the hammer hitting the nails from splitting the frame apart.

V-Nails come on a strip of fabric mesh and look like a little snake. Carefully peel off one nail at a time. Take note which side is attached to the fabric, this is the sharp side. Both top and bottom of the v-nails look the same to the naked eye, but the side that was attached to the fabric is the sharp side, the other side won’t go into the frame easily.

Snap the top of the v-nail (not fabric side) to the magnetic nail setter and set in place on the frame.

The v-shape of the nails should match the v-shape of the frames corner joint.

I used 2-4 nails in each corner depending on the thickness/width of the frame.

Release the frame from the Corner/Squaring Strap. Your Done – Good Job!!!!

How long did it take you to do a frame? I’m curious to know. Not more than a 15 minutes – excluding glue drying time – right?

No Comments

    Leave a Reply