Barnwood Frames - $1 and 10 minutes

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 12/02/2009 - 13:14
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For those of you not needing toys and kids stuff, don’t give up on me! Here is a cheap and easy, but sure to be cherished gift idea for adults.

Shopping for some fabric, I noticed an empty frame retailing for $99 for a 24”x36”. Labeled as the “Barnwood” Frame, I was shocked at the markup. It seems the more simple something is, the more we are willing to pay for it.

Now I know what a couple of rustic 1x2s cost – $1.50 to be exact. I’m not certain what 16 nails cost, or the tiny bit of weathered wood stain, but it doesn’t total up to $99. So the next morning, in my bathrobe with my daughter still sleeping, in 10 minutes, I used exactly one 1×2 (75 cents) to build this frame – a 12”x12” size:

I am going to encourage you to use my frame as an example, and recommend that you build your frames to your specific size. That’s why you are a carpenter – you get EXACTLY what you want!


Shopping List


Common Materials
2 inch finish nails
120 grit sandpaper
paint brush
Cut List

4 – 1x2s @ 12, 1 1/2″ flat side mitered so the shortest length is 9″
4 – 1x2s @ 13 1/2″, edge side mitered so the shortest length is 12″

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Circular Saw
Miter Saw
Brad Nailer
Power Sander


Step 1

Start by mitering the 12″ pieces, as shown above, at a 45 degree angle.

Step 2

Then do your 13 1/2″ pieces.

Step 3

Mark your 13 1/2″ pieces as shown above.

Step 4

Back to the 12″ pieces. Nail through the corners into the perpendicular board, as shown above. Do this on all corners to make the inside frame.

Step 5

Step 6

Nail the corners like we did in step 4. Also, make sure you nail the outer frame to the inner frame.

Step 7

Here are some measurements to guide you.

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Fill your nail holes with putty and finish as desired.
Project Type


Lindsay (not verified)

Mon, 05/09/2011 - 06:39

I am trying to make frames in the common sizes, 8x10, 5x7 and 11x13. What length woods will I need? I am afraid to do this....this is my first project. :)

Guest (not verified)

Thu, 08/04/2011 - 22:23

Someone correct me if I'm wrong in this, but I think the rule of thumb is to take the length you want to the side to be and add twice the width of the wood. So if your wood pieces are 1 inch wide, and you want the opening to be 8x10 (for example), start with two 10" pieces and two 12" pieces, all mitered down at 45 degree angles on the ends to 8" and 10" respectively, to make the inner square. Work backwards to find the lengths of the outer part (measure your square you've built and apply the same logic to find the lengths needed). Assemble following the plan directions here.

Guest (not verified)

Mon, 11/21/2011 - 19:24

Hi Ana, I love your site and feel so grateful to your sharing of many wonderful plans. Just have a question about this one. Maybe I am missing something here, but I am having a hard time nailing the edges together. I just can seem to find an effective way to hold onto the two pieces of wood and then nail them together. Any suggestions for an amateur???

Thanks, Shanda

Guest (not verified)

Mon, 12/26/2011 - 01:25

I ended up gluing and clamping the corners, and that was ok. Also thinking that maybe drilling small pilot holes first might help. Or really if u just had someone who could hold the pieces together while you put in the nails would be good too. Good luck!


Tue, 12/13/2011 - 15:34

I'm thinking of using this plan to make a reclaimed-looking "window frame" with trim in the middle to make the "panes", but I'm not sure how to attach the trim. I think it might be too small to use a Kreg jig on, and without glass or a mirror to glue the trim to, I'm not sure how to attach it. Any thoughts? I figured you might like the primitive look it gives when hanging on a wall if you'd like to make plans...pretty please?????

Bradske (not verified)

Thu, 02/16/2012 - 10:07

I tried to put this together without a nail gun...virtually impossible. The forces required to hammer a nail into these small pieces destroys the miters and still fails to get the nails all the way in. Tried 1" angle irons and the screws split the wood. Guess I'll try a new method that I can Kreg or get a nail gun.

In reply to by Bradske (not verified)


Thu, 03/22/2012 - 23:39

I have found that by drilling pilot holes using a 1/16" inch bit makes driving finish nails much easier. The bits are very inexpensive and even come with an attachment that fits directly into a cordless screwdriver. I hope that helps.

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