Let’s cut right to the chase.. no one wants to spend $200+ on a canvas frame. You already paid for the canvas itself, the paint, and the brushes! Why is just a wooden frame so expensive? I looked everywhere to find the cheapest option, but even the cheapest prices didn’t seem worth it. So, here we are! Today’s post is a step by step tutorial for a Homemade Canvas Floating Frame.
Hopefully, you already have some of these items at home. But, even if you have to buy everything it’s still WAY cheaper than buying the already made frame.
The first step is to figure out how long your overall frame needs to be. To get to that measurement, you take the gap length you desire + the width of your material and double it (to account for both sides). Then you add that number to the dimensions of your canvas. This gives you the total dimension of the outside of the frame.
For example, I wanted a 1/8″ inch gap, my materials were about 3/8″, and my canvas was 70cm x 70cm. Side note: this part was a bit confusing for me because I was watching tutorials from the U.S. measuring system (inches), but in Norway, we use the metric system (centimeters). So, I needed to do some extra conversions.
My Total Dimension Calculations:
1/8″ (gap length) + 3/8″ (material width) = 1/2″
1/2″ x 2 = 1″ (the number you add to your canvas dimensions)
Also, it made it easier that my canvas was a perfect square. I only needed to figure out 1 measurement for all 4 pieces of wood. So, if your canvas is not a perfect square you will just need to figure out 2 different measurements. Hopefully, not much harder!
Now that you have the dimensions figured out, it’s time to go buy the wood. When I went to the home store here in Norway, I didn’t know exactly what to ask for. The canvas floating frames I had seen online were made out of oak wood, so that’s where I started.
I asked the person working at the store for oak wood, but we ended up finding some good looking pine wood that was super cheap. Like, 3 dollars for all the wood.. At this point, I thought if it didn’t turn out, I couldn’t be upset because it was SO cheap!
With the wood picked out, I asked the worker to make the cuts that I needed with their miter saw and table saw (with the measurements I calculated in Step 1). Most home stores will help you cut the wood which is super nice so you don’t have to buy those tools!
An important aspect of the floating frame is the backing system, which is the pieces of wood you will be nailing the canvas to so that it stays in the frame.
For these wood pieces, all you need is some scrap pieces of wood. The length of this piece doesn’t have to be an exact length. As long as the cuts give you a perfect square into the frame, that’s all that matters. I asked for them all to be the same length just because it looks nicer from the back. However, if they aren’t, no worries. No one will see this part when it’s hanging on the wall!
For the depth of the wood, it depends how deep your canvas is. The canvas I used was a deep edged canvas so my wood needed to be thinner. How I calculated this was simply to put the canvas flush with the piece of wood on one end. Draw a line where they meet and measure the distance from the opposite end of the wood to the line you just marked. That is how thick the piece of wood should be!
Once I got all my wood pieces and made it back home, I did a “dry fitting” to see how it fit. Mine was a pretty tight squeeze. I had planned for more of a gap, but the cuts must not have been exactly perfect. No worries! I was just glad that the canvas fit. Then, taking the canvas out, I put on the wood glue and held the corners together for 30 seconds. You want to let it dry about 30 minutes before doing anything else.
After the glue dries, go around to each corner and nail in 2 nails, one on top and one on bottom like so. I used nails with 25mm in length, 1.4 in diameter. I tried to find ones that would hold the frame together, while also having a head that’s not too noticeable!
Go ahead and sand the frame and your backing pieces of wood. This is an important step whether you decide to stain the wood or not. You don’t want to get a splinter or feel rough wood when your handling the frame. Sanding will not only make it feel smoother, but it gives it a more finished look!
I decided to stain my frame because I wanted it too look a little less raw. Also, the stain protects the wood from discoloration. When deciding on the color, it’s really up to personal preference! I decided to go with white because I still wanted a pretty natural look. This white didn’t give it a solid color, but just a lighter wash.
Be very careful when staining!! Do it somewhere outside or in a garage where it’s okay if you spill. I just used an old kitchen towel, cleaned all the dust after sanding, and then applied the stain with the towel. Super easy, but again be careful because as the name suggests, it stains!
Lastly, you want to attach the wood pieces that you will be nailing the canvas to. You have already calculated the depth of the backing piece of wood, but you want your canvas to be flush with the front of the frame. So just to be safe, put the canvas in the frame face down. Then lay the wood pieces on top. I used the wood glue first and attached all the pieces to the frame. After the glue dried, I went around and attached the wood pieces with the 25mm nails for extra stability.
With the frame complete, all that is left is attaching the canvas to the frame. For this, I used a bit bigger nails. I used 30mm nails with a 2.5 diameter.
That’s it! I think the first two steps, calculating the measurements and getting the wood cut, are the hardest. This is by no means a professional method and the wood cuts weren’t perfect, BUT for hundreds of dollars less, I’m really happy with how it turned out! The frame really makes the canvas look so much more professional and finished!