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DIY Custom Wood Frame with Glass – No Power Tools

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This DIY custom wood frame with glass just might be the answer to your odd-sized art piece! And the best part, no power tools involved!


Have you ever wanted to frame an odd-sized piece of art, but the cost of the frame was just too steep?

Well, it’s happened to me in the past, but recently I commissioned my favorite first niece to paint a watercolor for my new bathroom makeover.

watercolor painting above toilet in bathroom

And Bekka (@timewithbekka) not only painted one piece for me, but TWO… and she let me choose which one I liked best!

They were BOTH lovely! One was a mountain type scene and the other was a coastal scene. Guess which one I chose?! Hehe!

Bekka had told me it was a custom size piece, but I didn’t realize just how EXPENSIVE the frame was going to be!

So, of course, I started trying to figure out a DIY custom wood frame with glass! And today, I’m going to show you exactly how to make your own custom wood frame, without power tools!

How to Make a Custom Wood Frame with Glass Front

Now, I have to be honest. The first time I made this frame (yes, I said the *first* time), it worked out great, but I just felt it was a bit overpowering for the watercolor painting.

What do you think?

diy custom wood frame with glass no power tools frame on bathroom wall

I really do like the color of the stain on the wood, but it was just a little to ‘wide’, ya know?

So, I decided to modify the width of the trim and leave it with it’s natural color. I’ll show you both at the end of the post, and you can ‘vote’ for the one you like best!

All that to say, the tutorial photos will consist of pictures from both DIYs. Hehe!

This post may contain affiliate links, at no additional cost to you. For more information, see my complete disclosure HERE.

What You Will Need

You will need a few items for this project, but it will still cost you less, in the long-run, than purchasing a $50-$100 custom size frame. If you had all the tools already, the materials for the frame would end up being less than $25!

How to Measure and Cut for a Rustic Wood Frame

  • FIRST measure the size of your artwork. Then, purchase enough material to create the trim. Personally, I preferred the 3/4-inch trim for for the larger part of the frame, and then I used 1/4-inch trim to hold in the glass (you’ll see what I mean in a bit).
  • With the art I was framing, the long sides were 18 inches and the short sides were 8 inches. Since the main trim is 3/4-inch (photo 1), I added 3/4-inch to each measurement. This way I could stagger the pieces and make straight cuts instead of mitering the corners. So I cut two pieces at 18 3/4 inches (photo 2) and two pieces at 8 3/4 inches.
diy custom wood frame with glass no power tools collage of tutorial steps for measuring and cutting wood
  • For the glass inset trim, the 1/4-inch trim is actually cut *short* by 1/4 inch for a dovetail effect. Two pieces were cut at approximately 17 3/4 inches and two pieces were cut at 7 3/4 inches. However, before cutting the 1/4-inch trim you’ll want to glue together the 3/4-inch pieces and then measure the inside of the frame to get exact measurements for the 1/4-inch trim.
  • Mark your trim just a smidge (yes, “smidge” is a word) bigger to allow for cutting movement (photo 3), then use a pull-saw (razorsaw) to cut the trim (remember to place a piece of wood under the trim for cutting).

Sanding and Gluing Wood Trim for a Custom Frame

  • The trim pieces have ends that are rough and painted. Just cut the ends off (photo 5), and simply sand them smooth (photo 6). Sand all the ends smooth before gluing. But, don’t sand the 1/4-inch trim ends until you know they fit correctly (after the 3/4-inch pieces have been assembled.)
diy custom wood frame with glass no power tools collage of tutorial steps gluing wood
  • Take the ends of the large (3/4-inch) trim and add wood glue to them (photo 7), then use a clamp (either a spring clamp or c-clamp) to hold the pieces together. I glued one corner together at a time. Push the wood pieces together while the clamp is holding the pieces together, and make sure the pieces are flush with each other (photo 8).

Adding Glass Inset Trim and Custom Frame Hardware

  • Remember to measure the inside opening of the frame, subtract 1/4-inch and cut the 1/4-inch trim pieces. Then, place the pieces inside the frame to make sure it all fits. If the pieces are too small, you will need to cut them again (this is why I always cut them just a wee bit bigger). If the pieces are too big, just sand them down. But, be careful…sanding can make them too small with just a couple-too-many ‘swipes’!
  • After the pieces prove to fit, add glue to the trim (photo 9) and add to the front edge of the large trim and c-clamp it (photo 10). Again, make sure the pieces are flush and adjust as necessary. Also, I did one piece at a time because I didn’t want to buy a bunch of c-clamps. Investing in three of them was sufficient. 😉
diy frame tutorial steps
  • Add the turn-buttons to the back of the frame. You may want to replace the screws with smaller wood screws, like I did. This kept the wood from splitting. Oh, and make sure the round part of the button is spaced away from the edge of the frame (see arrow in photo 11). This will ensure the glass will slide-in correctly.
  • Next, add the hangers to the frame. The nails are very tiny, so using a pair of needle-nose piers to hold the nail works great! Be sure the hanger is flipped to the side you want to use (photo 12). (I used two hangers for this wide frame).

How to Cut Glass for a Custom Frame

  • Would you be fearful to cut your own glass inset for a custom frame? I was! But, it was super easy and safe! Lay down a drop cloth or towel on a flat surface. Clean your glass with window cleaner and then measure the piece of glass you want to cut. This piece from Home Depot was a 16 x 20″ piece, so it was easy to cut an 8 x 18″ piece. Simply use a straight edge (I used my Fiskar cutting edge) and place marks along the glass (photo 13).
  • Take your cutting tool and dip it in the oil. Holding the cutting edge firmly with one hand, take your cutting tool and score the glass with even gentle pressure. DO NOT score it more than once (photo 14).
tutorial photos of cutting glass
  • Put a glove on your hand (I used a nice gardening glove) and place your fingers directly on the scored line and gently press down (photo 15). The glass will ‘pop’ apart (photo 16)! That’s it!

Now place your glass inside the frame, add your artwork, and then cut a piece of cardboard to cover the back of the artwork. This will protect the art from being damaged by dust and humidity.

The Finished DIY Custom Wood Frame with Glass Inset

Like I said, I did TWO versions of this custom wood frame using no power tools.

Here is version one:

diy custom wood frame with glass no power tools frame on bathroom wall

Isn’t the painting lovely? I wanted something that was peaceful and had a coastal vibe to it.

However, I’m not sure about the frame edge size or the color. The stain color is really nice with the painting, but not sure it works with the bathroom colors.

watercolor painting above toilet in bathroom
Sorry about the reflection of the glass… Lesson learned to remove the glass for photos next time!

And here is the second frame, in the natural color…

diy custom wood frame with glass no power tools frame on bathroom wall
Again, the reflection of the glass makes this painting look ‘wonky’. It really is a perfect painting!

The painting seems to make more of a statement with this frame, which is what I like.

And you can see just a peek of the countertop on the left. The frame color compliments the countertop color.

watercolor painting above toilet in bathroom

Here are some close-ups of the frame and artwork.

diy custom wood frame with glass no power tools frame on bathroom wall
You can see here how the inside trim is sort of ‘dovetailed’.

After Bekka gave me the painting, she asked me if I wanted her to sign the painting. “Of course!” was my immediate answer.

close up of custom wood frame with glass inset
Part of the ‘rustic’ look includes some of the joints not fitting perfectly.

Here you can see how the large trim is ‘staggered’, and the small trim is ‘dovetailed’.

diy custom wood frame with glass no power tools frame on bathroom wall

And, you’re getting a little sneak peek of the bathroom makeover, too!

watercolor painting above toilet in bathroom with other bathroom items

So, what do you think? Do you like version one or version two better? What about maybe staining the thinner frame with the darker stain color? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

signature updated 2022

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  1. I really like the 2nd one but I would leave it natural like it is and not stain it. It complements the painting where the dark takes away from the painting. Beautiful job on the frames. I think I am going to make some similar as I have some materials that need framing.

  2. You know…I do like the second frame better with this!! Thanks so much for such great information! I have a painting I would love to make a frame for so I appreciate all the instruction!!

  3. What a great tutorial Julie! You were so smart to use the different sizes of trim and wood pieces to put this together! I have one of those saws and it’s one of my most used tools in my workshop. My fave frame is the lighter colored wood. That painting is lovely! Tell her we all love her artistry 😊

    1. I will let Bekka know, Cindy… thank you! And I’m not surprised you have a razorsaw. I use mine all the time… So easy, and does a great job!

  4. I’m always hunting at the Restore, Goodwill and thrift stores for odd size frames so thank you for his tutorial to make my own! I also think the smaller natural frame suits the painting best but I do love the other one. I know you’ll find something to go in there!

  5. oh, my! I’m so impressed! Your painting is so lovely and I can’t believe you’ve made the prefect frame for it! You’re the smartest little one.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia 😉

    1. My niece is quite the gifted artist, Sheila… and thank you for the kind words about the frame! I’m super glad it came out!

  6. What a beautiful painting! I bow to your DIY greatness 🙂 The closest I’ve come to this is using canvas stretchers ordered from a craft supply place as a cheap way to create a large 36 x 48 frame…and I still haven’t finished it because it needs to be painted LOL.

  7. Wow, look at how handy you are! I love both frames, actually. They each bring out something different in the artwork. I do like the idea of doing a combo of the two, but you really can’t go wrong. The watercolor is just gorgeous too, by the way! Pinned!

    1. Thank you, Crissy! The second one was especially fun to make, because I had already made one. You know how that is!

  8. Your niece is very talented – just like her auntie 🙂
    I like both frame colors! It was very clever to make them without power tools. This is really the kind of diy that makes me happy.

  9. For an added touch of creativity, why not experiment with various wood finishes or distressing techniques suggested in the DIY custom wood frame guide? It could elevate the charm of your project!

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