New This Month


Molding Frame

Source: Martha Stewart Living, November 1997


If you have an odd-shaped painting and are looking for an alternative to an expensive custom-made frame, you can make one yourself using stock molding. Backband molding is ordinarily used to cover the top of wainscoting, but its simple design and built-in lip make it an ideal material for a frame. Experiment with different moldings until you find the one that best suits your painting. Look for moldings with rabbets, or lips, which hug the painting for an elegant effect; avoid flat moldings with curved faces. Also, when making your selection, consider how much of a border you want around the picture.


  • Tape measure

  • Molding

  • Miter box

  • Clamps

  • Japanese saw

  • Pencil

  • Paintbrush

  • Latex primer and paint

  • Wood glue

  • Corner clamps

  • Drill

  • Small hammer

  • Brads

  • Nail set

  • Bracing hardware or archival tape


  1. Purchase a piece of molding 1 foot longer than the perimeter of your frame.

  2. Clamp miter box to worktable. Clamp molding in place. Using a Japanese saw, make your first cut.

  3. Measure one side of the painting. Then, from the first mitered cut, measure along the inner edge of the molding; using a pencil, mark this length on the molding. To avoid any confusion, draw a line to indicate the angle of your next cut.

  4. To make the second cut, place molding into miter box, lining up pencil mark with channel in miter box. Clamp, and cut. Miter the remaining pieces.

  5. Prime and paint the molding; use latex paint to help protect the painting from acidic wood. (This is not an archival method; if you have a valuable painting, have it framed by a professional.)

  6. To assemble the frame, join two adjacent sides with wood glue. Secure them with a corner clamp. Drill a hole at the corner that passes laterally through one piece of wood and into the other piece. (Try a 1/32-inch drill bit.) Then drill two parallel holes that pass laterally through the second piece and into the first. Using a small hammer, tap brads into drilled holes. Repeat process for each corner.

  7. Countersink the brads using a nail set, tapping them until they are just below the surface of the wood. Fill the nail holes with wood filler, sand the spot, and touch it up with paint.

  8. Carefully place painting into the frame. Secure with small bracing hardware or, if the painting is not too large, use archival tape.

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