How to Upcycle a Simple Picture Frame

How to turn a simple, inexpensive picture frame into a frame worthy of your next masterpiece.

What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial you will learn how to make a wooden insert with a few simple tools and a bit of paint or wood stain, and then add it to a plain picture frame to dress it up. Use the perfect paint color to make custom frames that complement your favorite photos.


  • Picture frame
  • Piece of Lauan plywood as big as the frame you are using
  • Paint or stain
  • Pencil
  • Superglue
  • Sandpaper
  • Scroll saw
  • Drill and drill bit

1. Making the Wooden Insert

Step 1 

Remove the glass and backing from your frame. Make sure to put the glass in a safe place. Lay the frame back side up on the piece of Lauan.


Step 2

Trace around the inside perimeter of the frame. If there is a straight edge, take advantage of it and incorporate it when tracing. 


Step 3

Decide what size photo you would like to place in your frame. Center and trace a rectangle with the correct dimensions inside the rectangle you previously drew.


Step 4

Cut around the outer perimeter of the frame insert. Once it is cut, test fit it in the frame. If there are any issues with fit, make any adjustments needed for a good fit.


Step 5

Next, cut the inner rectangle and make any adjustments needed for a good fit.


Step 6

Sand any rough edges of the insert.


Step 7

Finally, give your frame insert a coat of paint or stain! This is your chance to add a pop of color and style to your upcycled project. Be sure to only paint one side of the insert. This allows for better bonding of the glue when installing the insert.


2. Assembling the Frame

Step 1

Once the print or stain has dried, do one more test fit to make sure your frame goes together well. Make sure to add the glass and backing back to the frame during this step.


Step 2

Once you have determined you have the perfect fit, apply superglue to the back of the insert. Install the insert with the frame facing up. The glue should be in contact with the glass. Allow the glue to dry, and your new frame is ready to display!


Now you are ready to dress up your walls! Using multiple sizes of frames and different colors for the inserts, you can add a bit of flair to any room with this simple yet stylish woodworking project. The possibilities are endless with this project. Just pick the right shade of paint and you are ready to make the perfect custom frames!