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DIY a Big Honking Frame

When Neu Year contacted us late last year to see if we wanted one of their big ass calendars – for real, it’s almost 30″x40″ – we admittedly put the idea on the back burner for a few days. It’s not that we didn’t want to be all super organized for 2013 (quite the opposite; come on now!), but at first glance, all we could see was that their calendar was so… big.

But! Then we took a moment to see what made this calendar so special, and holy freaking cow, you guys! It’s big, yes, but it really is awesome. And now I’m already getting off topic, because tomorrow I’ll tell you why and give a few away (after all, 1 for us, 3 for you. It’s only fair, yes?).

What we really want to share now is the big, honking frame we built around the calendar. Because, you see, once we decided that yes, please and thank you, we really want this calendar!, we knew that not only would it look fancy pants in a just-as-big honking frame, but the protective glass could double as a dry erase for to-dos and those once-a-year birthday reminders.

Of course the problem became the cost for such a massive frame, as all of our favorite frame-assembly sites and stores gave us quotes for $100+ (and that’s for the cheaper ones, too). So, we made one. It was easy, much cheaper, and it took just an afternoon to assemble.

Supplies and tools needed:
2x4s – we needed 12′
1x2s – again, 12′
Restor-a-Finish or wood stain (optional)
glass cut slightly larger than frame opening size
foam core for backing (same size as glass)
staples/stapler gun
hanging hardware kit
miter saw (for cuts)
Kreg jig
wood screws
dry wall anchors for hanging

We picked up salvaged 2x4s from Rebuilding Exchange (if you’re in the Chicago area, go there! It’s the kitten’s mittens!), and Scott cut them down to size with our miter saw, creating 45-degree angles on the ends. This was personal preference, as straight cuts would work just as well. When making his angled cuts, he just measured the inside dimensions (we used 26.5″w x 39.5″h) and cut the angles out from there. We cleaned them up with a damp cloth, since they were already dark and rich in color.

Using our mini Kreg jig, we drilled our pilot holes and used wood screws to hold our frame together. Never mind that the frame dwarfs our patio table; for safety and ease, we used clamps to keep the still-loose sides in place as we worked our way around the corners.

For the frame backing, we picked up a piece of 30″x40″ foam core, and I cut it down to 27″x40.” Based off of that measurement, Scott chopped down our 1x2s to approximately the same lengths, then he rubbed them with Restor-a-Finish to darken them up. This wasn’t absolutely necessary, but it helped them to blend in with the salvaged wood. These would later be our “framework” on the back, allowing a place for our glass, calendar and backing to sit into.

Once the frame was assembled and the 1x2s were dry, we brought everything inside and finished up on the kitchen counter (it was getting dark and cold!). Using the foam core as our guide, we laid it down on the back side of the frame, then surrounded its four sides with the 1x2s. After a good eyeball-positioning, we used a handful of screws along each side to secure them in place.

Since the foam core was larger than our opening, the 1x2s lined up to create a lip on the back of the frame. At this point, our frame was pretty much ready to go!

Before starting the frame, we got a piece of glass cut at Ace hardware using the same dimensions as our foam core. Now, we were ready to put the glass in our finished frame – very carefully! – followed by the print and finally, the foam core. I used the same Piglet method I’ve been using for years to staple everything in place, using about 6-8 staples along the long sides and 5 staples along the shorter ones.

At the same time we picked up the glass and foam core, we grabbed a hanging kit from the craft store. To really secure it in place, we used screws long enough to go through our 1x2s and into the back of the frame itself. Note: At this point, our frame was pretty heavy, so if you’re following along, please remember to grab strong enough wire to support the weight! Then, double it over and twist it a bajillion times. For real.

And that’s it! We chose the hallway for our calendar, since it’s right outside my studio door (perfect for marking down important dates and deadlines), and it’s the just right spot so it’s still out in the open, yet not so visible that we’re staring it while watching television. But perhaps most importantly, we hung it in such a way that it covers the ugly, gray panel of our circuit breaker. We were unable to find studs where we needed, so we hung 2 drywall anchors to support this honker.

It’s nice and thick from the side, and the 1x2s on the back give it the feeling that it’s slightly floating away from the wall, creating an unexpected – albeit super sweet – shadow effect. And the chunkiness creates the perfect little ledge for our dry erase marker.

We love the look and warm feel of the salvaged 2x4s, but staining and distressing new 2x4s (using sandpaper, a hammer and nails to make pock marks) would work as a good and cheaper alternative, too.

To give you a good idea of how honking this guy is, here’s my 5-foot-3 self standing next to it. To cover that junction box, we had to hang it a tidge high, but even my shortie arms can reach the top with no problem. (On a side note, our hallway is itty bitty, so a straight on shot isn’t possible. Also, the lighting in said itty bitty hallway can be finicky and bizarre, hence the yellow-ish glow on the frame. Rest assured, this guy is awesome; the end.)

So, how much did it all cost? Had we used regular 2x4s from Home Depot, we could have saved almost 1/2 on our salvaged wood cost (they usually run around $1/ft), but despite our decision to stay old school (um?), here’s how it worked out:

Cost breakdown:
12′ of 2x4s = $20
1x2s = $2
glass cut to 27″x40″ = $20
foam core for backing = $4
hanging hardware kit = $3
Restor-a-Finish (on hand)
wood screws (on hand)
dry wall anchors for hanging (on hand)

TOTAL = $49

Overall, this guy is super sturdy. A real man’s man kind of guy – and easy on the eyes for me, too. Afterwards, I began lusting for more big art and more big frames, but these walls are about tapped out! Now that we realize how simple it was to assemble our own frame, we’re thinking it’s just the ticket to save on display costs – and perhaps splurge a little more in the art department. Well, we’ll see.

Have you framed any big, show-stopping art (or calendars, eh?) for your home lately?

Psst… Remember to stop by tomorrow for a Neu Year calendar giveaway – as they say, let’s punch 2013 in the throat!

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia] - January 3, 2013 - 9:28 AM

    So cool! I want the horizontal one for our hallway! And this framing tutorial is so helpful. We have a HUGE map that I have been wanting to frame but just…couldn’t…figure…it out. I bow to your DIY skills. Pinning!ReplyCancel

  • Kris Robitzsch - January 3, 2013 - 10:09 AM

    That is very smart. I want to have one.ReplyCancel

  • Miranda @boucksy - January 3, 2013 - 10:47 AM

    This calendar is KICK ASS! I can’t wait til tomorrow to enter for my chance to win. Thanks for the giveaway Kim + Scott! I love the frame, and love that by adding glass you instantly added the “dry erase” portion of it without having to get the dry erase option of the calendar. I’m pretty ridiculous about spelling/needing to cross things out and my ever-changing plans…so that helps out my OCD self!
    -MirandaReplyCancel

  • Scott - January 3, 2013 - 11:22 AM

    Julia- The cool thing about the calendar is that it’s printed vertically on one side and horizontally on the other. If you want to change things up, you can just flip it over!ReplyCancel

  • jackie jade - January 3, 2013 - 12:07 PM

    holy crap – that’s a huge frame/calendar – but looks awesome! you guys did a great job. i wish i wasn’t afraid to build stuff with my hands :)
    jackiejade.blogspot.comReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 3, 2013 - 2:29 PM

      Thanks, guys!

      Jackie, you can do it!

      Miranda, you and me are 2 peas in a pod.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - January 3, 2013 - 3:08 PM

    Also, Julia, that map would look amazing in a huge rustic frame like this!ReplyCancel

  • Kaitlin - January 3, 2013 - 7:10 PM

    This came out really well! I actually nearly bought this same calendar recently- and have been regretting not doing it. Maybe you’ve finally made up my mind for me!
    My new framing trick is to buy 4 canvas stretchers from the art store. A little wood glue, and poof! Frame! :)ReplyCancel

  • Kim - January 3, 2013 - 7:26 PM

    Kaitlin – genius!ReplyCancel

  • Carol Ryan - January 3, 2013 - 7:34 PM

    Love the calendar and the frame work! Also love that KC’s wedding made your calendar so I will get to see 2 of my favorite people! I hope that you see Christi and Shane this weekend and enjoy a little company from home!!!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - January 3, 2013 - 7:38 PM

    Carol, wahoo! Yes, we will be there!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - January 3, 2013 - 8:34 PM

    I love this frame! It’s too cool!ReplyCancel

  • Emma - January 4, 2013 - 3:45 PM

    OMG! That’s the best frame ever! Well done. All the best in 2013!ReplyCancel

  • Katana Leigh - January 4, 2013 - 11:35 PM

    Awesome. I’m always looking for unconventional or interesting ways to frame artwork (since I’m an artist) even though I usually let the collectors frame their own work! :DReplyCancel

  • Jane @ The Borrowed Abode - January 5, 2013 - 8:10 AM

    I’m so glad you a) tackled this and b) shared the tutorial. I’ve been suspecting for a while now that I could DIY frames instead of settling for overpriced ones that just don’t strike my fancy at the craft store. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Liliana - January 14, 2013 - 3:28 PM

    Love the idea…and the frame, I love it! It is awesome!ReplyCancel

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