With the recent addition of our streamlined gallery wall in the living room’s gap, we’ve been itching to add something large – very large! – above our velvet sofa. Not wanting the room to feel overly cluttered with our already vibrant rug (and the opposing wall’s art round up), we’d been tossing around a handful of ideas for the last year (yes, really), and we finally landed on trying out a couple of over sized engineer prints.
This, of course, led us to the next question, of what? And since choosing to “go big or go home,” we took the most literal route and went with a tried and true favorite – dinosaurs!
I picked up a vintage dinosaur book, Life Before Man, with page after page of prehistoric illustrations. We settled on the finalists – the notorious T-Rex (!) and a wild flightless bird. While the latter falls under a different (although prehistoric) era, we loved the composition when the two were paired up. We wondered if it was normal for two adults to choose such subjects, but we decided it was best to fully embrace our inner quirk and run with it! If it’ll make us smile every time we enter the room, why not?
Engineer prints can be printed up to 3’x4′ at any copy center (we used Staples), and they’re inexpensive at $7 each (although you can pick up smaller sizes for as little as $2!). I scanned our chosen images from the book at 300 dpi, submitted them through the online system, and we picked them up the next day. We knew the paper would be very thin, so we teamed up with Ace Hardware to create extra large frames to give them that finished, polished look.
For this month’s Ace challenge, we were teamed up with Tasha over at Designer Trapped, where we both chose to give the Bosch Variable Speed Palm Router a try; we encourage you to see what Tasha created! In our case, we used the palm router to DIY our frames, opting for thin and sleek, allowing the dino prints to be the star. (Naturally.) Here’s what we needed for two frames:
MATERIALS USED FOR 2 FRAMES, 39″ X 41″ EACH:
4 – 2″ x 2″ x 8′
2 Packs – Ring hangers
2 Packs – 3″ corner braces (each pack comes with 4 + screws)
Hanging wire (we chose 100 lb, but 50 lb would also work)
2 Engineer prints on 3’x4′ over-sized paper
2 Pieces – double paned glass cut to size (this can be done at any Ace)
2 Sheets – Foam core (size dependent on art)
Anchors for hanging
Measuring tape / pencil
Dust mask / safety glasses
Sandpaper / Power sander
Bosch Palm Router with 1/2″ straight bit
Compound miter saw
Spackle or wood putty
Paint brush or small foam roller
Staple gun with 1/2″ staples
WHAT WE DID. To start, I used our small power sander to smooth out the wood for the frames. They were pretty rough to begin with, but felt good after using an 80 grit paper, followed up with a 120 grit. Tip: 2x2s are very inexpensive, but be careful to choose pieces that are as straight as possible!
We used our palm router to create the lip for the glass, art and backing to sit into the frame, and we chose to route all of our 2x2s first (rather than do so after the frame was put together). Never having used a router before, it took a few rough starts to get it right, but the ultimate trick was slow and steady. (Scott got the hang of it quickly, after which, it was smooth sailing!) It kicks up a lot of saw dust and debris, so safety glasses and a dust mask were crucial for this step!
We adjusted the router to a 3/8″ depth, and the 1/2″ straight bit was perfect for getting that recessed lip. Bonus – the edge guide made it super easy to keep our line perfectly straight. Once each piece had been routed, I followed that up with a quick sanding to get off any burrs and rough edges.
Next up, we used the compound miter saw to cut the four pieces for each of our frames. We goofed the math a few times (and tripped ourselves up more than we’d like to admit!), but when it came time to figure out the proper lengths, this is likely the easiest way:
- First, measure the size of your art. Ours came to 35.75″ x 37.5″ (it filled the 3’x4′ engineer prints width-wise, and we allowed the height proportions to fall naturally). Your glass and foam core should be cut to this same measurement.
- Subtract .75″ from your width and your height, and make your mitered cuts using those measurements for the inside edge. For example, this would give us a measurement of 35″ x 36.75″, which should be the length of the inside of our frame.
- Once everything is all assembled, this will ensure that your print, glass and backing will fill the frame, but it will still leave you with an 1/8″ of wiggle room within the recessed tray!
With all of our pieces cut down to size, we worked on one corner at a time. After a dab of wood glue, we used clamps to hold two pieces together, drilled a small pilot hole and used a chamfer bit to allow our 2″ screws to sit below the level of the 2×2. We only used them on the top and bottom of the frame, for a total of eight screws per frame.
Our frames felt pretty sturdy after this, but as an extra measure (always!), we installed a 3″ brace along each corner, snugging it up to the routed edge as to not hit the 2″ screws beneath them. As large as these frames ended up, they were super strong and provided no give – perfect!
I spackled the exposed screw heads, and once that was dry and sanded, I dived right into painting. I applied two coats of the same exterior Valspar paint that we have on our front porch, color matched to Clark+Kensington’s Designer White.
We allowed everything to dry overnight, and the next day, we brought the frames inside to bring it all together! As mentioned in the supply list, we got double paned glass cut to size at Ace, and I used a utility to knife to cut the foam core down to the proper size. Using the same framing technique I’ve been using for years, I used a staple gun with 1/2″ staples to secure everything into place (the trick is nestling the gun about an 1/8″ away from the frame, which will allow the staple to remain proud). We finished it up by installing ring hangers (you can pick them up in a kit with screws) and 100 lb hanging wire; this is admittedly overkill, as each frame couldn’t weigh more than 20 lbs (the glass is the heaviest component!).
Update! Check out Kyley’s comment regarding the installation of D-rings (photo above). For something this large and heavy, it may be best to use an anchor per ring rather than a strong wire.
Each frame was hung on a 50 lb. anchor, and we fussed with placement until the height was high enough so you wouldn’t hit your head while seated, but low enough to avoid the art-that’s-hung-too-high problem. Now, when you walk in our front door and look left, you’ll see this!
We’re super happy with our choice to use 2x2s; they’re substantial enough for our massive prints (we still can’t help but chuckle when we realize that yes, we have large prehistoric creatures on our wall!), and yet they’re sleek enough as to not detract from… well, you know. The T-Rex!
Update: Please reference these comments below, pertaining to copyright laws and use of photos and illustrations.
We absolutely love them (weirdos), but don’t forget to check out how Tasha used her palm router! And because we want you to make some ridiculously large frames too, how about $100 to get you motivated? Together with our friends at Ace, we’ll be giving away a $100 Ace Hardware gift card to one lucky reader! The giveaway runs through this Friday, August 1st at 5pm CST, and the winner will be announced within this post by Friday evening. Simply enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck and happy entering!