Earlier this year, we took an incredible (much needed!) vacation to the Outer Banks, where we lazed our days away lounging on the beach and wandering around museums. Whenever I go on vacation, I love finding the perfect little souvenir to bring home and remind me of my time away. So when we were ambling around the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum and found these gorgeous prints of vintage lighthouses for only $6 each, I knew I’d found my souvenir. But how to frame them? I love farmhouse style décor and knew I could make something charming, quick and easy. But even I was amazed at how easy this project was! Interested in learning more? Keep on reading to learn how to create these gorgeous wood-framed vintage prints for less than $10!
Step 1: Find Your Prints
Chances are, you’re not going to travel to the Outer Banks to pick up the exact same prints I’m using. But don’t worry! It’s so easy to find amazing vintage prints online. In fact, I have 3 really wonderful recommendations for you? Ready to check them out?
Recommendation A: Library of Congress
Stop by the Library of Congress and check out the collection of historical WPA Prints. Oh my gosh, be prepared to get lost in the amazingness that is this collection. There are an incredible number (932!) of really wonderful vintage prints, all free for you to use. Get ready to spend lots of time digging!
Recommendation B: Vintage Printable
Head over to this site to see another amazing curated collection of free, public domain images across a number of categories, like animal pictures, art prints, science graphics, and botanical pictures. I particularly love their botanical images!
Recommendation C: Home Beautifully’s Free Fall Printables!
Grab these free fall printables from yours truly, which (in my humble opinion) would make super awesome wall art!
Now, if you choose to make art pieces that are 8.5 by 11 inches, then you should definitely print these prints on your home computer. But if you want them a bigger, head to FedEx or Staples and ask for them to be printed as engineering prints. You can get an amazing oversized black and white print for only a few dollars! Staples, for example, will print an 18 by 24 print for only $1.87! Now, to be fair, you have to work gently with engineering prints. The paper is thin and the ink may smudge if you handle it too much. But for the price? Totally worth it.
Step 2: Head to Home Depot to Get Supplies
In order to frame these beauties, you’re going to need to wrangle up some supplies. It’s no secret that I love Home Depot, but you could just as easily get these at Lowes or a local lumbar yard.
Get the Plywood
To mount the prints, you’re going to want to get your hands on some plywood. Now Home Depot sells this by the sheet, and I can guarantee you that the sheets will probably be bigger (and heavier) than you’re going to want. Here’s the trick: Home Depot will cut (or rip) your plywood down for you! See why I love Home Depot? The number of free cuts tends to vary from store to store, but even if they charge you to make more than 2 cuts, the price is always super reasonable (around a dime to a quarter a cut).
I found the plywood I needed, then asked the nice gentleman at Home Depot to cut two pieces that were 11 by 17 inches each. Now, to be fair, Home Depot says they don’t make exact cuts, but every time I’ve done this … yep, they pull out their rulers, measure twice, and make pretty awesome cuts, just how I request.
In addition to the convenience of having someone else cut down the plywood for me, I have to request the cuts for 3 more practical reasons. First, the plywood is heavy! When I’m shopping solo, the cuts makes it a whole lot easier to get! Second, I’m not really sure it’ll fit in my Prius if I don’t cut it down, and third, I don’t have the right tools at home.
Get Your Trim
Once you have your plywood, which will cost around $10, you’re going to want to get your trim. Look around for the furring strips, which will probably be with the building lumber. Get 2 of the 1 x 2 x 8 strips, which are only a little more than a dollar each.
I don’t need to have the peeps at Home Depot cut the furring strips for me because I invested in my sweet Ryobi miter saw a while back.
Before you head out from Home Depot, pick up some spray adhesive, sawtooth hangers, wood filler and stain (unless, of course, you already have these at home.)
Step 3: Let’s Get Cutting
Before we mount our prints on our plywood, let’s take some time to cut out our frames. To do this, I set my miter saw to the 45 degree angle. For me, I find it much easier to cut the furring strips to fit, going one by one Another option? Measure the plywood board, then measure the furring strips.
I placed the plywood board on my workbench and laid the furring strip beside it. Then, I lined it up and marked exactly where I need to cut. I did this over and over until the entire frame is pieced together.
Before assembling your frame, you’re going to want to sand, sand, and keep on sanding. Furring strips are awesome because they’re super inexpensive, but man…. They need some TLC with a sander. I used my Ryobi Corner Cat sander and 120 grit paper, sanding until my frames were smooth to the touch.
Is your wood smooth? Now let’s assemble! Use a nail gun or a hammer and nails to fit your frames onto your plywood. I have this super sweet Ryobi Airstrike nail gun that honestly makes this part so easy. No hammering required!
Even when I take my time with mitered corners, I always need to use a little wood filler to make my corners perfect. I’ll get it right without wood filler one day! (Today wasn’t the day though.) I popped on some latex gloves and used my finger to smooth in some wood filler. The wood filler made my imperfect corners a little more perfect.
Step 3: Stain the Wood
I adore Minwax Provincial stain and honestly use it 90% of the time I’m finishing projects. Maybe I need to switch it up! I’ve been thinking of experimenting with milk paint. Maybe for the next project? Once your wood filler has dried (check the recommended drying time on the back of the package), smooth on some wood stain (or paint) following the directions on the back of the can.
With my Minwax provincial, I always use a little sponge brush or staining rag, apply one coat, and wipe it off after a minute or two. Easy!
Step 4: Glue Down, Hang Up
Almost there, buddy. The only thing left to do is to affix your print to your plywood. For this step, I used spray adhesive, spraying a liberal coat on my plywood and allowing it to dry down before I carefully placed my print onto the plywood backing. To make you don’t get glue onto your fabulous new frame, you may want to use a little painters tape to mask off your wooden frame edges. I used my library card to smooth out any air bubbles.
Once the glue is dry, flip your print over and hammer in a small sawtooth hanger onto the top back of the frame. …And you’re done! I would, of course, LOVE to see your projects. Follow me on Instagram @homebeautifully and tag me to show off your work. I can’t wait to see! What pictures are you going to choose?