This post was originally published on DIY Network’s blog Made + Remade in March 2013.
I love it when my crafty little escapades leave me with a phenomenal product that I know I’ll have in my home for years to come. My personal aesthetic in home decor lends itself to be earthy and natural, and in today’s post I’ll show you how I made a picture frame using a very natural material in a creative application.
The finished piece was inexpensive too (think, <$5), and anyone could make their own interpretation of it with the right resources and inspiration.
Keep on reading to learn more about how I made this stone picture frame!
Shale stones–the mothership of the more commonly known “slate”–are in abundance on our local Western New York beaches, and I’ve taken to collecting them over the years. Last spring, I even tiled the entryway of my home in these little black stones, and it’s one of my proudest projects (you can read about ithere and here).
I used a few very specific tools and materials for this project, most of which I fortunately had around the house:
- Scrap wood to make a base picture frame
- Four flat corner braces to assemble the light weight picture frame (this is where I spent the $5)
- Thinset adhesive for wall and floor tile installation (I already had some from a previous project, but you can get a quart of it pre-mixed for about $6)
- A wet saw with a diamond blade
I started by creating a simple frame to house a 5″x7″ pane of glass. For this, I used scrap wood, and more specifically, scrap shiplap from a previous project. The piece of scrap shiplap I had happened to be perfect because the rabbeted edge of the board easily serves as an inset area for the frame glass and picture that are being framed. (If you don’t have scrap shiplap laying around your basement, and I don’t expect you do, you can achieve the same inset effect by cutting the edge of a 1x board with a 1/2″ rabbet bit with a router.)
I used flat corner braces to assemble the frame securely (a small $5 investment for convenience). For frames heavier or larger, I usually put trust in biscuits or heavier duty mending strips, but this frame was small and lightweight.
Once the frame was made, I selected a bunch of rocks from my stash. The thinner, larger stones worked best.
I wasn’t actually sure how well the wet saw would cut through irregular stones; I took a chance, set the saw to cut slivers measuring 1.5 cm wide, covered my eyes and ears and started trying. Cuts like butter.
Cutting stones with a wet saw in a cold basement on a 29 degree day wasn’t the coziest idea, but in a short hour I managed to get enough pieces trimmed to cover the whole front of the frame. I dry fit the pieces periodically to gauge how many I would need.
If you’ve never used a wet saw before, you should be forewarned that it’s always messy, and you usually end up looking like you soiled yourself heavily, but it’s easy to use once you get the hang of it, just like a table saw with a spraying fountain attached.
I digress. With the stones washed and air dried, I began attaching them to the wooden frame with leftover thinset adhesive, the same kind of adhesive used for installing floor and wall tiles. I used a trowel and buttered it on the frame liberally so that the stones would have something to grasp onto.
I really liked how in repetition, the pieces of cut shale on end looked a lot like stacked flagstone.
The frame itself was left to dry overnight before I inserted the glass panel on the back and a picture from our personal collection.
I attached a wire on the back using the flat brackets for convenience once again, and we’ve since been enjoying it in our home.
I thought it was appropriate that the frame contain me and my parents (circa 1980′s) since the stones were from their beach. We ordered some new 5×7′s from our recent honeymoon that can update the frame over time.