Inside: Easy DIY wood canvas frame made from two 1 x 2s. No brackets required.
“Ugh $500!!” I gasped.
A neighboring customer glared at me over her thin pink-framed glasses.
My heart sank along with my vision of the beautiful framed watercolor autumn tree-lined sidewalk that would greet me every morning in our new master bathroom remodel.
Can Large Canvas Art Be Affordable?
I am by no means an art professional but I want a beautiful home on a budget. A home like fine champagne on a PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon) happy hour budget. I will sacrifice blood, sweat and my firstborn child to find affordable solutions for my home (don’t worry I don’t have kids). So when it came to finding affordable large canvas art I did my homework.
Large canvas art can be affordable and building the wood frame yourself is a big part of that savings. A large framed canvas can set you back $100 – $700+ depending on the store. I paid less than $60 for this 40 x 30 inch framed canvas art. To show you how to save money lets break the framed canvas art into three parts; image, canvas and frame.
- Image – There are millions of free and cheap ($10 or less) high-quality images online that you can download and print. You can also use your own image or photo.
- Canvas – There are several canvas companies. I used Groupon and searched through their options. At the time of this writing when I enter “canvas” in Groupon 600 results come up. I chose a Groupon from Canvas On Sale. Using the Groupon saved me over $200 than the online prices. Bottom line do not pay the full prices listed online.
- Frame – Even if the photo and canvas are inexpensive custom framing is expensive. I will show you how to make an easy wood frame that cost two 1 x 2s…$2.50.
How to Build the Large Canvas Frame
This easy canvas frame involves two 1 x 2s. You will create a frame that attaches to a cradle. The cradle holds the back of the canvas in place and lines up the edges of the canvas with the front of the frame.
The image I used is from a personal photo that I shot at a Regent’s Park in London. The picture has meaning to me of the memories of my trip to Portugal and London with my girlfriends. A personal photo that also functions as art is priceless. I added a watercolor effect in Photoshop Elements.
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*Before you get started make sure you have your Safety Gear. For this project I recommend safety goggles, ear protection, and a P100 mask.
Tools for DIY Canvas Frame
- Measuring tape
- Drill – I use this drill
- Countersink bit
- Impact driver – I use this driver
- Nail gun – I use this one
- Sander – I use this one
- Speed square and a combination square
- Old t-shirt (something to apply stain)
This tutorial is for a canvas that measures 40 x 30 inches. Adjust your supplies and cuts as needed. Also if you prefer the look of a floating frame make longer cuts to adjust for the floated space between the canvas and the frame. My canvas is 3/4 inch thick and the 1 x 2s measure 3/4 inches thick which made the frame and canvas flush. If your canvas depth is thicker adjust the width of the frame or the depth of the cradle.
Supplies for DIY Canvas Frame
- 2 – 1 x 2 x 8
- Wood glue
- 1 inch scews
- 1 1/2 inch 18G brad nails
- Wood filler
- Stain – I used Special Walnut, Weathered Gray and Dark Walnut
- White latex paint
- Sawtooth hangers – I used these sawtooth hangers
Cuts for DIY Canvas Frame
*Double check your measurements. Due to minor errors in cuts and being slightly off square your cuts may be different then what I have here. Measure twice cut once. I used one 1 x 2 to cut one side and a top frame and another 1 x 2 to cut a side and a bottom frame. This left me with app two 24 inch pieces of scrap that I used for the side cradles. I used scrap wood I had laying around to make the top and bottom cradles. If you don’t have any scrap wood around depending on the size of your canvas you can use the scrap left over from making the frame to make the cradle.
Top and Bottom Frame
- 2 – 1 x 2 at 31 1/2 inches
- 2 – 1 x 2 at 40 inches
Top and Bottom Back Supports (Cradle)
- 2 – 1 x 2 app 5 1/2 inches (I used some scrap I had around. You can use the left over scrap from the side cuts as well)
Side Back Supports (Cradle)
- 2 – 1 x 2 app 24 inches (I used scrap left over from the frame cuts)
After your cuts, dry fit the canvas in the frame and cradle to double check your measurements.
Steps to Make DIY Canvas Frame
Step 1) Align the cradle with the frame. Mark center of the top, bottom and side cradles and the center of the top, bottom and side frames. On the back of the cradle pieces drill pilot holes and drill countersink holes. This is where you will attach the canvas to the cradle. The reason for the countersink is so the screws will not scratch the wall on the backside of the frame.
Line up center with the corresponding pieces (side frame to side cradle, bottom frame to bottom cradle, etc.) then glue and nail in place. This is what the cradle pieces look like before nailing together. Step 2) Sand all four pieces of the frame. Glue and nail together at all four corners using a square to keep 90 degrees.Step 3) Apply wood filler to fill in any nail holes and cracks. Then I layered a few different stains. I applied Special Walnut and Weathered Gray and then lightly sanded. Then I applied Dark Walnut. To add a rustic look I dry brushed white paint over the stain and lightly sanded. I finished it off with a matte sealer.
Step 4) Once the sealer dries attach the hanging hardware. I used these sawtooth hangers. Insert the canvas into the cradle. Screw the cradle to the back of the canvas frame using 1-inch screws (where the countersink holes are). Hang it on the wall in its new home. I love how it turned out and I didn’t have to deal with any dirty looks behind pink glasses.
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