Do it yourself: Making picture frames out of left-over flooring

It’s difficult to believe that this decorative multi-picture frame with stunning landscape photos was once a piece of flooring!

The sixth instalment in our series of DIY projects contains a step-by-step guide on how to craft stylish multi-picture frames out of surplus flooring planks. The idea for this project came from Marina Mayr, an industrial business management trainee in the second year of her apprenticeship at Hamberger.

The idea

“I’m not blessed with an over-abundance of DIY skills, so I wanted to come up with something that anyone can build”, says Marina about the project she completed as part of her course work. And she is amusingly frank about her own proficiency: “I’m happy every time I hit the nail that I’m aiming for.” The idea of building a multi-picture frame out of parquet flooring came to her while she was visiting a neighbour whose flat is decorated with a large number of photos. She was convinced that a frame featuring a selection of favourite photographic memories would make an attractive and extremely personal item of décor. Her neighbour’s husband, a carpenter by trade, was able to confirm that making a picture frame of this kind out of parquet flooring strips would not be too difficult. With expert advice from the carpenter at hand, Marina got down to work and ended up constructing two different versions (a two-plank version and a single-plank version). And Marina is certain that the project is a feasible proposition for others as well: “I admit that making the pieces wasn’t quite as easy as I anticipated, but once the individual construction steps have been explained, it’s something anyone can replicate.” This is how it works:

You will need the following:

  • 3 parquet planks
  • 4 photos measuring 10 x 15 cm, 5 photos measuring 12 x 9.5 cm (can be trimmed to size)
  • Wooden letters
  • Cardboard as backing for the photos
  • Construction materials: adhesive tape, wood glue, tape measure, protractor or set square, pencil, scissors or craft knife, some cooking oil, pastry brush, superglue
  • Tools: jigsaw, electric drill with wood bit, clamp for holding the work piece, router, chisel, plane

Step 1: Mounting the planks

To make the larger version, first fit two planks loosely together.

Step 2: Marking the picture frames

Now mark the positions where you want to mount the photos to the right and left of the connecting line located in the middle. To do this, designate these areas by attaching adhesive tape in the approximate shape and size as the photos you wish to insert later on. Use the pencil and protractor/set square to draw the exact shape(s) you want to cut out. The cut-outs must be a little smaller than the photos to prevent them falling out. If you’re using photos measuring 10 x 15 cm, Marina recommends drawing cut-outs that measure 9 x 13.5 cm.

Step 3: Sawing out the cut-outs in the two-plank version

Take the two planks apart again and use a jigsaw to cut out the four rectangles you drew earlier. A useful tip is to first cut out triangular sections on the right and left of the rectangle and then remove the remaining plank material.

Step 4: Gluing the planks together

Now firmly attach the two planks together using wood glue and let it dry for at least one day.

Step 5: Marking the picture frames on the other version

In the meantime, Marina starts on the single-plank version by using adhesive tape to mark out the positions where the photos are to be mounted. Draw the shapes for the cut-outs in the same way as in step 2. When using photos measuring 12 x 9.5 cm, draw cut-outs that measure 10 x 7.5 cm.

Step 6: Sawing out the cut-outs in the single-plank version

When using only one plank, you can’t start sawing out the cut-outs from the edge. So you have to take a slightly different approach to the one described in step 3. Use an electric drill to make holes at opposite corners of the rectangle. Make sure the holes lie completely within the area you want to cut out. Now insert the jigsaw blade into the holes and cut along the outline you marked with your pencil.

Step 7: Cutting recesses for the photos

Now, on the reverse side, use a pencil to draw a rectangle around the cut-outs. This rectangle should be 1 cm larger than the cut-outs themselves. Take a router and cut recesses along the pencil lines. Then, trim away any excess wood from the recesses using a chisel. Also use the chisel to slightly round off the edges of the cut-outs. This creates recesses that will hold your photos firmly in place.

Step 8: Smoothing the edges

Now you can move on to making your multi-picture frame look even more stylish by rounding off all the edges of the plank(s) with a plane.

Step 9: Attaching hanging hardware

To make sure you can hang up the multi-picture frames, use an electric drill to make a slot in the centre around 3 to 4 cm from the top edge on the reverse side of the plank. When you are doing this, angle the drill slightly upwards. Marina recommends you take extra care during this step. Rather than trying to do it at a single attempt, it’s better to have several tries at slowly deepening the slot until you get to the required depth. After all, you don’t want to drill completely through to the front side of the plank.

Step 10: Oiling the edges

Once you have completed steps 7 to 9 for the wider version as well, you can tidy up the planed edges. All you need to do is spread a little cooking coil on these edges using a pastry brush, giving them back their natural colour.

Step 11: Attaching wooden letters

If you wish, you can follow Marina’s example by adding some lettering to your multi-picture frames. You can purchase suitable wooden letters from hobby shops or online stores. Simply attach them to the front side of the plank(s) with superglue.

Step 12: Inserting and securing the photos

Now insert the photos into the cut-outs. Marina chose to use attractive snapshots taken by Magdalena Bachleitner, a fellow trainee at Hamberger and talented amateur photographer. For the cut-outs in the single-plank version, she had to trim the photos to the required size. To prevent the photos from falling out, cut pieces of cardboard to fit tightly behind them in the recesses of the cut-outs. Press these pieces of cardboard firmly into place.

Step 13: Hanging up the multi-picture frame

All you now need to do is find a suitable space for your creation. Then, hammer a nail into the wall and hang up your unique piece of décor.
Marina’s multi-picture frames are currently on display in the Hamberger office. One will remain there permanently while the other will eventually relocate to Marina’s living room, as a pleasant reminder of her days as a trainee, and an eye-catcher in its own right.

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