DIY Photo Frame Prop

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This DIY Photo Frame Prop is an easy to make project, and is fun to use in a photo booth at a party. It is large enough for two or three people, and is very light weight.

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diy-photo-frame-propThe nice thing about this frame is it can be decorated to match the theme of the party. Once another occasion comes up, the decorations can be replaced, and the frame can be used over and over again.

Making a frame like this is pretty easy with a few tools, and the wood cost is very low. I used Pine for this project, because it is light weight. Most store bought frames are made from heavier woods, and can be a pain to hold up.

Look for Pine in a hardware store, and find pieces that have a low number of knots. There are completely clear pieces available, but they will be more expensive. If you search through the common Pine boards, you will find plenty that are nearly knot free.

How to make my DIY Photo Frame Prop

diy-photo-frame-propYou will need two pieces of six foot long, three inch wide and 3/4″ thick Pine. The width does not matter as much, so just get it close to three, or you can trim it down in the shop.

Cut two pieces to 32″, and then two more to 22″ each. Then, miter the ends at 45 degrees, so they can be assembled into a square.

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Depending on your saw, you may need to make a few test cuts to get the angle right. Do a small test with four short pieces with mitered ends, and make sure they assemble tightly. If they do not, adjust your miter saw angle to close the gaps as much as possible.

diy-photo-frame-propAfter pieces are cut, a small decoration on the edges helps make it look more like a photo frame.

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Use a chamfer bit in the router table to put a 1/4″ bevel on the inside and outside edges. Run the piece through so that the top faces are down, which will put the chamfer on the correct side.

Be careful when chamfering the pieces, because the router will like to come around the ends of the board, and this can alter the look. Go nice and slow when starting and stopping the cut, and the chamfer will be nice and even. If you are new to the router table, make the chamfers before you cut the miters. This will be a little easier.

diy-photo-frame-propThe easiest way to assemble the frame pieces is with a Kreg Jig. If you do not own one of these, it is a great tool to have. Once you own a Kreg Jig, you will find dozens and dozens of uses for the tool.

The Kreg Jig uses pocket holes and screws that connect pieces of wood together while flat. Since this is a flat project, the pocket holes work very well. Pick up the jig, some plugs for the screw heads, and a face frame clamp. This small system makes it very easy to assemble projects like picture frames, cabinet face frames, and almost any other flat wooden project with butt joints.

diy-photo-frame-propBegin with the smaller pieces for the frame, which will be used for the sides. On the bottom face, place the pocket hole jig as seen in the picture.

Drilling and screwing the frame together near the inside will give the screws more to bite into, and the frame will be stronger.

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Clamp the jig in place, and drill following the directions for two holes. The jig has instructions for how deep to drill, and how to adjust and place the jig. It all works very easily, and the jig instructions explain everything.

diy-photo-frame-propOnce the pocket holes are drilled into the small sides of the photo frame prop, begin assembling the pieces. Arrange and clamp one of the smaller boards and one of the longer boards as you see in the picture. Then, apply some glue in the joint and screw them together.

The Kreg Clamp is a great piece to have, because it automatically adjusts to the thickness of the piece. It also keeps the faces nice and even when screwing them together. You can use a bar clamp for this part of the process, but the Kreg clamp works really well too.

diy-photo-frame-propCovering the holes is an optional step. They will be on the back side of the photo frame, so they will not be extremely visible.

If you want to fill them, Kreg makes small dowel plugs that are already shaped to fit. Simply add some glue to the hole, and drive the plug into place.

Most of the time, the plugs will hold without any clamping. In this time you can work on other parts of the project while you are waiting for the plugs to dry.

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diy-photo-frame-propNo matter how much time you put into the miters on the ends, inevitably there will be some gaps that need to be filled. Even the best woodworkers struggle getting perfect miters that have no gaps all the way around.

If you have some gaps, do not worry. Fill them with wood putty, and they will go away. I have a complete set of instructions for using wood filler that make the process very easy. Once you are done, the gaps will be invisible.

diy-photo-frame-propHere is a picture of a corner that I filled with wood epoxy. There was a small gap between the pieces, and it was very easy to see.

After filling and sanding flush, the gap between the pieces is gone. If you spend a little time on your gaps or dents/dings, and apply wood filler, the look will be far better in the end.

If you are painting the photo frame afterwards, you can really get away with murder on your wood fills. Use wood putty on any defects, and sand them nice and level. Once a couple coats of paint are applied, you will never be able to see them.

diy-photo-frame-propIf you filled the pocket holes with dowels, you will need to sand the plugs level. Use a hand plane to shave them close to flush. Then, use sandpaper and a block to get them perfectly level.

Next, final sand the piece. Use 220 grit paper to go all around the photo frame prop. Break all sharp corners and edges, and make sure that it feels nice and smooth. Run your fingers carefully around all edges and surfaces to ensure that the job is done. After sanding, wipe down the piece with a cloth to remove all the sanding residue. Now, you are ready for finishing.

Finishing my DIY Photo Frame Prop

diy-photo-frame-propFinally, finish the piece any way you choose. In this case, my wife wanted a clear finish. She plans on decorating this frame differently for each occasion, so she wanted a neutral look. It can always be changed later, but for now I did a clear lacquer finish.

If you are finishing the frame, and you don’t know where to start, my Wood Finishing Guide is a free PDF that details hand applied finishes for the beginner. You can also paint the frame with aerosols or with a brush, and it will last a very long time. The nice thing about painting the piece is that it can always be painted again. If you decide you want a differrent look, simply paint the frame again.

If you have any questions about my DIY Photo Frame Prop, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Share this article on Pinterest too! Happy building.

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