Shop Etsy

DIY: Make a Perfect Picture Frame from Pallet Wood

Mar 10, 2016

by daydreemin handmade and vintage goods

Steve is a carpenter turned developer turned back to maker from a town in Hawkesbury NSW. After starting his career as a tradesman (carpenter) then moving into creative fields like advertising, design and web development, Steve never lost his true love for using tools and building. He now lives with his wife, 2 daughters, 2 dogs, a horse and some chickens while running his custom timber object and furniture business Roar Timberworks. Using reclaimed timber, Steve works full time on making custom handmade furniture and running his DIY blog – and of course the occasional bit of web development on the side.

We’re delighted that Steve is sharing a tutorial on the blog today on how to make your own timber photo frame from reclaimed wooden pallets.

Picture frames are one of those items that every home has, and it’s also an item that can be quite costly when you pay a professional to do. With the frame timber, the mounting, glass and the time required. Here’s a simple DIY solution that requires free timber and only a few other materials and tools.

I had some off cuts of pallet wood lying around. As you can see in it’s raw state it just looks like scrap wood that you would be inclined to throw away. But this material really is the essence of rustic and recycled. You will see by the end of this article that using a simple process of sanding and a bit of stain, the finished product turns out very appealing.


  1. Saw 
  2. Drill 
  3. Screwdriver 
  4. String 
  5. Nails 
  6. Wood Glue 
  7. Sandpaper 
  8. Cut off pieces of pallet wood
  9. A little bit of stain / varnish



  • The first step is cut all the main pieces of wood to size
    – Cut the 4 main frames pieces first –  2 sides plus top and bottom. If you are making this frame for a particular image make sure the work out the width and height plus adding at least 10mm each way for some clearance around the image.

I wasn’t working to any particular image, but I knew I wanted a square area for the pictures to fit into:

cut pallet wood

Dimensions: 2 sides 310mm long, and the top and bottom 185mm long.

The backs need to be cut long enough to go half way across each side piece so you have plenty of room to add glue and nails. I cut the back pieces 250mm long.

  • After cutting the pallet wood, give each piece a good sand so you don’t get splinters.
    Make sure you do this outside (and wear a protective breathing mask) as it does create a bit of dust that will be hard to clean up inside.

sand pallet wood

Once all the pieces are cut and sanded you immediately see and big improvement in the look of the recycled timber:

sanded pallet wood


Nailing the back pieces on to the sides, top and bottom pieces is where we start.

  • Make sure you have chosen which side is the front of each piece of timber.
  • Now flip all the pieces over because you will be nailing all the pieces together from the back.
  • First work out how far the back pieces will overlap the side piece and mark a line on the back. Also mark how far down the back pieces need to start from the end of the side piece.
  • See the image (2nd one down) where the back pieces are nailed on to get a better idea of how everything fits together.

mark side frame

  • Use some PVA wood glue and 2 nails on each end to fix the back pieces to the side. Make sure the nails you use are not too long so they stick through the wood after nailing.
  • Next do the top piece, making sure the edge of the back piece is parallel to the top. Then the bottom, then the other side.

nailed back piece

Wipe of any seeping glue with a wet rag, then turn it over and this is what you should have:

pallet picture frame front

Making the Back Support Leg

Making the back frame support piece is as simple as cutting 2 pieces of timber.

  • Cut the support leg at 215mm long. Make sure the back leg doesn’t stick out longer than the height of you picture frame when it is completed.
  • Cut the hinge block 100mm long.
  • Drill a small hole 50mm up from the bottom of the leg the string that will hold the leg apart from the frame.

picture frame leg

I found a nice antique hinge at the hardware store that works perfectly for this rustic style.

  • Screw the hinge to the support leg and hinge block. Then nail the hinge block to the back of the picture frame.

picture frame support leg

  • Add some string and you’re almost done
  • On the bottom back piece of the frame hammer in a small nail. This is for the string to get tied to.

nail string

  • Now get some string and tie it around the nail.

picture frame string 2

  • Keep the string quite long and keep it doubled up. Now take the 2 ends of the string and pass them through the hole in the support leg. Tie a knot big enough so it can’t slip back through the hole.

picture frame string

  • Trim the string to get rid of any long overhanging bit.

You’re done!

pallet picture frame front

pallet picture frame back

Now the frame is done, it’s up to you how you choose to to finish it. I finished my frame using a Teak stain. You can stain it, or varnish or even paint it. It’s up you and your own style.

How to add a Picture to the Frame

In order to make this frame as simple as possible, I knew I didn’t want to use any mounting or glass.

My original idea was to use a wooden peg or bulldog clip (or something similar) to hold a picture in place, and also make it very easy to swap pictures.

pegs clip

The idea I ended up using was a small magnet disk from my daughters craft box. I just glued the disk in place at the top of the frame, and now I can use any steel object to hold my pictures in place.

magnet disc

I decided to use an old steel nut that I found in my workshop.

picture frame nut

The Finished Pallet Wood Picture Frame

pallet wood picture frame finished

There it is. One DIY Picture Frame made from Pallet Wood, made, stained and with an illustration my wife did being held in place by an old nut.

When it comes to making your own picture frame it doesn’t really get any easier than this. There are no mitres to cut and no glass to have to order and buy. The timber is free and the rest of the material are cheap. Also once you buy the glue, nails and stain, you then have plenty leftover to make a lot more frames or DIY other projects.

If you enjoyed this project, you can see more how-to’s on our blog here.


  • daydreemin

    Steve Sagovac from RoarTimberworks said 3 years ago

    Thank you for posting my article. I hope everyone gives this project a go. Hopefully this shows that making stuff out of wood isn't as scary and difficult as it sometimes looks. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask. BTW, the truck illustration is by my wife who also has an etsy store "Kazart Galley" :

  • teestrend

    teestrend from Trend2Tees said 3 years ago

    Thanks, cool article!

  • melwhite1976

    Mel White from ArtAndSoulByMel said 3 years ago

    Great idea! Thanks for sharing :-)

  • Sponndesign

    Renata Sponn Design from Sponndesign said 3 years ago

    Truly inspiring! Thanks for sharing.

  • doughertr

    Doug White said 3 years ago

    Awesome job Steve! i love the wood frame. I've seen a similar wood type finish here, but its not the same and handmade like yours. Thanks for sharing! Cant wait to see more!

Sign in to add your own