How to Frame a Picture/Printable version

How to Frame a Picture

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Equipment required

Equipment suggested for picture framingEdit

  • Sharp pencil (2B recommended, as it will leave clear sharp lines)
  • Notebook (for recording colours for matboard, frame types and measurements - and for calculating costs)
  • Retractable tape measure
  • Metal ruler
  • Sharp knife
Retractable snap-off bladed knife works well.

Frame cutting and assemblyEdit

  • Mitre saw, or guillotine
  • Bounding tape thing
  • Corner tacking gun, with tacks

Glass cuttingEdit

  • Oil filled glass cutter
  • Cotton gloves

Mat cuttingEdit

  • Square and rightangle ruler based cutter
Note: a ruler and a knife just doesn't cut it ;)

Advanced stuffEdit

Sample mat board collectionEdit


Mat boardEdit

The spare mat board is easy to store in an old map drawer cabinet. These can be often be picked up at ex-government furniture stores.


Frame materialEdit

Standing against the wall, or up in the rafters.

Material required

When selecting a frame, decide on the colour, window size and area of the mount. (A pale colour makes the picture look larger; a dark colour makes the picture look smaller). Normally, a frame is sold in a long strip which needs to be cut to size.

You will also need:

  • Glass
  • Matt board
  • Foam core
  • Sealing tape
  • Wood glue
  • Pins for securing the backing to the frame
  • Eyelets
  • Nylon cord

Choosing colours and styles

When choosing the appropriate surround for artwork, it is helpful to keep in mind several variables:

  • Do you need to crop the picture?
  • Is the piece destined for a single location?
  • What materials do you have on hand?
  • Will you need to re-use the frame?

And finally, and probably most importantly:

  • Will your partner agree with your choice?

Choosing a frameEdit

Choosing a matt styleEdit

Calculate the sizes

  • Keep a workbook of notes and measurements, so that you can track back specifics
  • Extra space at bottom of frame, unless frame re-use needed.
  • Always measure off the frame


Matt width - 5cm.

The calculations are in centimeters.

Width Height
Artwork <ArtWidth> <ArtHeight>
Inner edge (red) <ArtWidth> - 1 <ArtHeight> - 1 Need overlap to keep picture in place
Matt size (green) <ArtWidth>-1 + (2*<MattWidth>) <ArtHeight>-1 + (2*<MattHeight>) +1 extra matt at bottom to stop optical illusion of frame leaning forward
Frame size (blue) <ArtWidth>-1+(2*<MattWidth>) +(2*<FrameWidth>) <ArtHeight>-1+(2*<MattHeight>)+1 +(2*<FrameHeight>)

Which means that ...

you need this much frame prior to cutting: left + right + top + bottom

2*(<ArtWidth>-1+(2*<MattWidth>)+(2*<FrameWidth>))+ 2 * (<ArtHeight>-1+(2*<MattHeight>)+1+(2*<FrameHeight>)) = (2*<ArtWidth>)-2+(4*<MattWidth>)+(4*<FrameWidth>)+ (2*<ArtHeight>)+(4*<MattHeight>)+(4*<FrameHeight>)

Measuring for MountsEdit

Someone should merge this section into the above.

Calculating the Mount Size (to be cut from a sheet of mount board).

  1. Decide how much of the picture you want to show (add to, or take away from the art size) = WINDOW SIZE.
  2. Decide how much mount you want around the window (margins).
    • Top and both sides are the same.
    • For bottom margin allow extra 20% to compensate for the optical illusion which makes the bottom border seem narrower than it actually is.
    • Standard margin sizes:
      • Top and sides 50mm, bottom 65mm.
      • Top and sides 65mm, bottom 75mm.
      • Top and sides 75mm, bottom 90mm.
    • Allow for width of frame rebate by adding that amount to each margin width = MARGIN WIDTH.
  3. Therefore MOUNT HEIGHT = rebate allowance + top margin + window height + bottom margin + rebate allowance.
  4. Therefore MOUNT WIDTH = rebate allowance + right margin + window width + left margin + rebate allowance.

Creating a frame


  • Sanity check measurements


  • Make clean cuts, taking care to approach the line.
  • Undercut the edge to ensure tight fit on corner.

[Include profile shot of cutout of frame edge]


  • Use masking tape to temporarily hold frame in place.


Place the frame over the artwork to check that it's the right shape and size.


  • Add glue to edges
  • Tape
  • Use band to hold frame in place
  • When tightening, check that the frame comes below the middle line of the frame, to ensure a tight edge on the face.


  • Check for staples length pushing though the frame, especially for routed edges.


  • Glue on the front face

Fitting glass

The glass should be cut 1/8" smaller than the frame itself, however this should be achieved not by adjusting the size of the glass but by making the dimensions of the frame 1/8" larger than the objects to be placed in it.

Adding matt-board

  • Measure
  • Cut inner border

[insert diagram of matt lifting]

Ideas for double mattEdit

Final assembly

  • Clean glass
  • Assemble pieces
  • Check the look of the front
  • Pin down the backing

For each side:

  • Lay down tape
  • Push it into corners and around the pins
  • Add eyehooks
  • Secure the hanging cord

Tips for pastel drawings

Tips for pastel drawingsEdit

  • Ensure that the drawing is well bonded to the backing with ?sealant?
  • Leave a gap at the bottom of the frame, between the paper and the matt, to allow for dust to settle inside the matt.