How to Build a Picture Frame Using Reclaimed Oak Floorboards

See how old floorboards were upcycyled to make a rustic-style picture frame. 

In the truest sense of the term, I’ve transformed one man’s trash into another man’s treasure by using discarded oak floorboards to make a brand new picture frame. I found a pile of flooring in my neighborhood and couldn't let it go to waste. While we’ll never know why the homeowner had decided to discard it instead of refinish it or transport it to a salvage shop, I was quick to adopt it for my own home. Ain’t it pretty?

Salvaged oak flooring can be used for any number of projects, so use your imagination; I used floorboards practically to patch a gap in my home’s stairwell, and last winter I used some scrap unstained floorboards to create my Christmas tree star. The opportunity for upcycling it is great, so if you find yourself passing a plethora of floorboards, take them home, clean them up, and begin to imagine what they can become.

I started this project by determining how big I wanted my picture frame to be. Keep in mind that you can keep things easy if you choose a proportion similar to standard Plexiglas, poster and mat sizes. Common 8″ x 11″, 9″ x 12″, and 12″ x 18″ are safe bets. I planned to make my frame to accommodate a 18″ x 24″ piece of Plexiglas, a common size that I was able to find at the hardware store for just $10.

With my plan established, I cut the floorboards down to length using a chop saw – the long horizontal pieces that would compose the top and bottom of the frame measured 25″ long. The shorter pieces that stacked to make the sides of the frame were measured to be 4-1/2″ long. Which, by no coincidence is the same length as the height of three pieces of floorboard stacked. Thoughtful measuring meant that my frame would be the same width all of the way around.

Even with as many pieces as I needed to cut, I still only used about four long floorboards in all.

With the floorboards trimmed, I dry fit the boards on the floor, and placed the piece of 18″ x 24″ Plexiglas on top to see how it would fit.

To assemble the frame, I used additional pieces of oak on the back of the frame to serve dual purpose: holding the pieces of wood together, and giving the Plexiglas and print a place to sit within.

I used both wood glue and a brad nailer with 5/8″ nails to secure the entire frame together.

Are you alarmed that I’m using a nail gun on my kitchen floor? In looking at these pictures again, I am too. Know that I did many, many basement tests with pieces of scrap flooring and length different brads before daring to install the entire frame right on the kitchen floor where I had set up my dry fit. Don’t follow my lead; your roommate/landlord/significant other might be more comfortable if you did this on another flat surface, say, a work bench or piece of plywood.

After sanding all of the edges down, I installed the Plexiglas, the print (a vintage map of Franklin County, NY), and anchored them behind a 1/4″ piece of plywood using mending strips and wood screws (both of which only cost a few dollars). I didn’t end up needing to size a mat for this particular frame since I fit it to a print that I already owned, but if you’re looking to learn how to cut your own mats, note that it’s as easy as can be. 

The finished frame is full of charm.

And I just love how the rustic frame displays this pretty vintage map.

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