10 Essential Tools for Making a Picture Frame

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10 Essential Tools for Making a Picture Frame

For individuals who enjoy working with wood, the ability to craft picture frames is an enjoyable way to create personalised items and save money in the process. For those who really enjoy the process, making picture frames can go from a hobby into a lucrative business if the proper equipment is utilised. But for beginners and those who merely would like to create personalised frames as a hobby or to save money, there are some essential tools that are needed in order to get started. Having access to power tools can make building picture frames much easier, but they are expensive and not necessary in order to get started.

Individuals who want to get started with the process of creating their own picture frames can do so by purchasing 10 essential tools. By purchasing these tools through eBay, one can create personalised picture frames as a hobby or even as a start to a new business.

Picture Frame Tool 1: Measuring Tools

Picture frames require detailed measurements in order to achieve the precise angles that are necessary to creating frames that are completely square. In order to properly measure the lengths of wood, a metal ruler and a tape measure are essential. A metal ruler is used for more detailed measurements on a smaller scale, and the tape measure is used for longer pieces of wood.

Picture Frame Tool 2: Hand Saw

While an electric table saw can make quick work of the cutting tasks required to get the pieces ready for crafting into a picture frame, the use of a simple hand saw can serve the same purpose at a lower cost. A hand saw can take longer to accomplish the cutting, but when used along with a mitre box, the hand saw can produce the same cuts at the same angles and with greater safety than a powered table saw.

Picture Frame Tool 3: Mitre Box

A mitre box has two sides that are connected by a bottom piece, forming a combination similar to a tunnel with an open top. The sides of the mitre box have angled slots in which a hand saw can cut through wood while being guided by the mitre box slots. The slots are angled at 45 degrees at each end of the box and 90 degrees in the centre, allowing angles to be cut in the picture frame wood in both directions. The opening on both sides of the mitre box allows the wood to be slid into position to be cut regardless of the length of the wood. Mitre boxes are constructed from various materials such as wood, metal, aluminium, and plastic, and they can be very basic with fixed sides or they can have adjustable sides and angles. Some mitre boxes come with clamps to hold the wood in place while it is being cut, while others require the user to hold it in place.

Picture Frame Tool 4. Clamps

Clamps are useful during several steps of the picture framing process. Clamps come in different forms, from spring-loaded versions that look like pliers to triggered mechanisms that slide back and forth on a long centre rail that holds the two sides of the clamps and allows them to be adjusted. The trigger is pulled to unlock the mechanism and allow one side of the clamp to slide on the centre rail. When the trigger is released, it locks the clamp in place.

Additionally, "C" clamps are also available, and they basically look like the letter "C" with a screw mechanism that adjusts across the open section of the "C" by screwing the mechanism down. Clamps can be used to hold the wood in place while cutting in the mitre box, and they are also used to hold the frame pieces together while gluing or nailing them together.

Picture Frame Tool 5: Hammer

A hammer is essential when connecting various sections of a picture frame together as well as adding hardware to the frame pieces. The hammer is used to drive brad nails into the wood to secure the sides together after the glue has dried. The hammer is also used to attach holding tabs to the back of the frame that help hold the picture in place. Any hardware that is used to hang the picture frame is also attached to the back of the frame using the hammer.

Picture Frame Tool 6: Sander

A handheld sander and sheets of sandpaper are essential to achieving a smooth surface to the wood prior to staining or varnishing the completed frame. Handheld sanders are useful for sanding flat sections and larger amounts of wood because they are electric, but detail sanders or simple sheets of sandpaper are crucial to finishing hard-to-reach sections of the framing or uneven surfaces.

Picture Frame Tool 7: Paintbrush

A paintbrush is used to apply stain or varnish to a frame after it has been sanded. Paintbrushes are always handy to have around because they can be used to brush away sawdust and debris after the sections have been cut. Paintbrushes come in different sizes and are made from different materials. The basic brushes are made from synthetic bristles and are adequate for applying stain to wood. Horsehair bristles have a more refined texture and are better for applying finishing varnish to wood. Brushes made from foam are less expensive and work well for applying both stain and varnish to wood. However, attention must be paid with foam brushes because they tend to leave bubbles in the varnish if not used properly.

Picture Frame Tool 8: Marking Pencil

A marking pencil is required in order to mark measurement points in the wood prior to cutting. Pencils are helpful for marking the position of mounting and fastening hardware on the back of the frame and outlining the back of the matting that is cut to fit into the frame behind the picture.

Picture Frame Tool 9: Drafting Triangle

A drafting triangle aids in verifying joint angles prior to cutting and checking the frame for square prior to gluing and nailing the sides together. Drafting triangles have measurement marks on the edges, so they can also be used in place of rulers for smaller measuring tasks.

Picture Frame Tool 10: Miscellaneous Items

Different miscellaneous items are used in the final stages of the picture framing process. These items are inexpensive, and therefore it is a good idea to have them in larger quantities if making picture frames is to be something other than an occasional hobby.




Used to join various sections of frame together

Glue is placed on wood joints prior to them being clamped together


Also referred to as brad nails, these are small nails with tiny heads used to permanently join various sections together

Also used to attach backing tabs that hold the matting in the frame; used to attach mounting hardware

Wood Filler

 A glue-like substance used to fill cracks or holes in wood

When poured into affected area, dries and takes on the appearance of normal wood

Excellent for correcting accidents


Comes in many colours and is applied to wood with a paint brush

Stains change the appearance of the wood

Different colours can be used on different areas of the wood


Clear fluid that is applied to wood with paintbrush

When varnish dries, it hardens into a clear protective coating

Generally applied over stained wood


A cardboard type of material cut to fit into the back of frame

Holds the picture in place inside of frame

The items listed above are necessary to complete a picture frame properly. For individuals who plan on making picture frames on a continual basis, having a number of stains and varnishes on hand can add variety to frames. Nails and glue should be purchased in larger quantities so they are always on hand.


Building picture frames from scratch is both fun and rewarding, and it also saves a great deal of money. The cost of store-bought picture frames can be astronomical, so by purchasing a few essential tools, a consumer can craft picture frames for a fraction of the retail costs. While power tools are helpful in getting the job done quickly, they are not necessary in order to get started. For those who do not plan on making a living building their own picture frames, low cost hand tools are adequate to get started.

Consumers have the option of visiting framing shops to purchase the specialised tools necessary to make picture frames. However, this can be an expensive process because frame shops generally charge more to make up for their overhead costs. By educating themselves about the process and visiting online websites such as eBay, consumers can find the tools they need to create picture frames on their own.

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