I made a rustic picture frame for my wife a while ago, and decided to try a few more. These were all made from 2X4’s, that were ripped down to 1/2″ thick. I first cut off the rounded edges of the 2X4 with the table saw, then ripped half inch thick strips.
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After that, I cut them to 8″ long, and lined up a bunch of them to look like a pallet. A couple of them become cross members behind the pieces hold them together. This was done with glue and short brad nails. The fun part is designing the rustic look of the finishes that are applied to each of these pieces. A good finish can have a huge effect on a piece. All of these looked exactly the same before they were finished, and now they have three distinct looks.
The piece on the left was treated with a Dark Walnut dye stain. Then, it was given a vignette with a black aerosol toner. This is perfect for a small picture in the center. The middle frame was sprayed white, then dusted with black from a distance so that only black speckles landed on the surface. The right hand side piece was burned with a torch, sanded, then clear coated.
Of all of these rustic finishes, the burning method is by far my favorite. This comes from a Japanese technique called Shou Sugi Ban. This is where wood is burned, the surface washed and cleaned, then a finish is applied. Traditionally, this type of wood was used for exterior siding. After the treatment, the wood becomes rot and bug resistant.
Burn the surface of the rustic picture frame with a propane torch, and then sand the surface slightly. Then, wipe down the burned area with a wet rag, and lightly sand again with fine paper once dry. Next, wipe off the sanding residue with a dry cloth, and apply a clear finish. Traditional Shou Sugi Ban requires a wipe on oil finish. However, you can use anything you like. These were sprayed with a furniture grade satin lacquer.
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The pictures can be tack glued directly to the rustic picture frame, or a small clip can be used. Find a small spring clip from a craft store, glue it to the wood, and clip the picture in place.
My wife has several of these up around the house with pictures of our family on them. They look great, and have a warm rustic feel. Making these was inexpensive, and a single 2X4 can yield enough wood to make several. With the price of a 2X4 at less than $4, these can make serious profit at a place that deals in handmade crafts.
For a great introduction to finishing, take a look at my Finishing With Tru-Oil Video. This explains the process well, and can be a perfect go-to finish for anyone into woodworking or making crafts. There is no fancy equipment needed, and you can get an excellent finish applied quickly.
For another great project that has an older, more rustic feel, my book Wooden Rings: How To Make Wooden Rings By Hand details how to make beautiful wooden rings from the scraps in your shop. These are far more appealing to me than any metal ring, and in fact My Wedding Ring is made from Briar.
Do you like rustic woodworking and crafting? Leave a comment about your favorite rustic craft or technique, and we can all learn more about making rustic pieces.
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