DIY Photo Frame

How to make a barn board DIY photo frame that is perfectly, imperfect. It can be a worthwhile challenge for a perfectionist, a breeze for the more carefree crafter. 

Age: Adult

Difficult: Easy to Difficult, you decide.... read on. 

Time scale: 2 out of 5 



  • Barn board with grooved edges (shiplap)
  • Miter saw
  • Clamps
  • Square
  • Measuring tape 
  • Stapler 
  • 3/8ths inch staples 
  • Scissors
  • Blue jean or canvas material 
  • Hot glue gun
  • Gorilla wood glue 
  • Varathane clear varnish matte finish 
  • Paint brush 
  • Scrub brush
  • Dish soap or liquid detergent.

Want to know how to drive a perfectionist crazy? Give them a crooked board and tell them to make something. Do you know what can be crooked, AND to top it all off, have holes and cracks? BARN BOARD.

Put aside any obsessive, perfectionist tendencies, when building with barn board. Exact and precise is not going to happen, but that adds to the rustic charm. Deal with the quirks and you will have a one of a kind creation.

I still used a square; couldn't help myself. If it was going to be really crooked, I just wouldn't have (couldn't have) done it. The rustic look is great, but I can only take it so far. 


Wash the barn board using a scrub brush and warm soapy water. Rinse and let dry. 

The lazy way to clean dirty barn boards? Use a pressure washer if you have one. It requires a lot less elbow grease. Be careful though, you can remove a lot of the gray weathered look, that you may want to keep.

With a DIY photo frame you can make your picture any size you want. It is best to choose a standard size for the inside measurement, if you want to put glass in it.

*Standard measurements are: 5x7, 8x10, 11x14, 16x20.  Adjust the frame accordingly. 

This diy photo frame has a custom mat, for an odd ball sized picture.  The photo was printed with a large printer. 

There are few variations on how to put the picture in this diy photo frame. With glass or without, mat or no mat. Store bought matting or handmade. I made a photo mat from cardboard and did not use glass.

How to make DIY photo frame

Start with a piece of barn board with a shiplap edge. No edge on your board? You can make a 1/2 inch wide rabbet using a router. This of course will take a very simple project and complicate it a bit.

Measure the picture and subtract twice the width of the rabbet edge in the barn board. If you want a mat around the picture, without glass, plan to have the matting sit on the groove in the back. In this case, size to the mat.


Cut the barn boards at a 45 degree angle so the groove is to the inside on the back and the outside edge on the front.

Measurements for the diy photo frame should be from the inside corner. Cut at a 45 degree angle from the short side to the outside edge. (The long side.) Avoid confusion with your cuts by always using the short side of the angle for your measurements.


Attach pieces together using wood glue. 

Clamp together until dry. Four long clamps work best, with two each direction.

See the square? Before putting on the other two clamps, I just had to check it! NO, it isn't as crooked as it looks. Having the square lying there like that doesn't make it look very straight, does it? An optical illusion. HA! That reminds me of a story from a long time ago.... We were getting kitchen cabinets put in and they were crooked. When I complained to the company doing the install, I was told "It is an optical illusion." I guess the tape measure was lying AND when my stove wouldn't fit in the opening, that was an optical illusion too! How mad was I? Quite.


Staple together on the back, using 3/8 inch staples on the 45 degree seam.

Cover entire surface with two coats of matte finish varathane.

Let Dry.

Attach picture to the mat, if you are using one. Cut a piece of cardboard and glue to the back of the picture. 

Put into the frame from the back with the mat sitting on the grooved edge. 


Cut four pieces of blue jean material into strips about 1 1/2 inches wide by 4 inches long. 

Hot glue the strips so the are half on the back of the frame and half on the cardboard. This will hold the cardboard in place. If you want to change the picture later, this will make it easier to remove.


Since barn board can be a bit fragile, nailing on a saw tooth hanger might crack the wood. Instead, I chose to make a simple hanger, using a seam from blue jeans. 

Cut an 8 inch long piece from the seam of a pair of blue jeans.

Center on the back of the frame, about 2 inches down from the top.

Hot glue and staple the blue jean piece, at each end.

Job done! Time to hang it up.

I have learned to work with the flaws in salvaged barn boards and embrace the rustic charm. I'm happy with what I have created. Next time, will be even easier.

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