/ / Build An Easy Changeable Frame for Signs: A Fantastic Gift Idea

Build An Easy Changeable Frame for Signs: A Fantastic Gift Idea

A tutorial on how to build easy changeable frames for signs. Quickly change what sign is displaying any season and save on storage space!

Valentine’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Christmas…these are some of my favorite holidays to decorate the home for. 

And because they each have a unique color palette and vibe, not many items can be reused for other holidays. Instead, we end up with a large pile of boxes in the basement, filled with items we can’t seem to part with.

But perhaps it might be time to reduce where I can.

Starting with the dozens of seasonal wooden signs that I insist on keeping for each holiday.

Wouldn’t it be terrific to have just one frame, and an easy way to change the message? 

I have the perfect solution: a changeable frame, like a picture frame. This elegant wood frame is all you would need for the entire year of holidays! 

wooden frame with chalkboard insert

It will save on storage space since you won’t have to store multiple frames, AND you can even have a double-sided sign for more convenience!

Let me share with you the full step-by-step tutorial on how to make your interchangeable display.

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DIY CHANGEABLE WOOD FRAME


MATERIALS:

TOOLS:

  • miter saw
  • circular saw or table saw
  • orbital sander
  • clamps
  • square
  • air compressor with a nail gun
  • safety glasses
  • face mask (for dust)
  • ear protection

You can print the material list and instructions below.

materials for changeable wooden frame for signs

Do you prefer a video? Here’s a step-by-step video tutorial on how to build this easy to change wood frame.

STEP 1: Cut and sand the wood

The first step is cutting the wood.

SIDE NOTE: Some of the boards will have a 45-degree angle cut. They will be marked (45-degree).

Here the cut list:

  • 2′ x 2′ MDF – cut in half, so you have two 1′ x2′ boards (you can make two signs!). You can have this cut at your hardware store. 
  • 3/8″ dowels – cut two pieces at 12-7/8″ (45-degrees), two pieces at 25-3/8″ (45-degrees).
  • 1″ x 2″ boards – cut two pieces at 12-7/8″ (45-degree) and two pieces at 25-3/8″ (45-degrees)

SIDE NOTE about 1″ x 2″ board: Cut the boards so the 2″ side is facing up on the saw.

Once all the wood is cut, sand each piece with a #220 grit sandpaper until smooth; then, wipe with a cloth to remove dust.

STEP 2: BUILD THE WOOD FRAME

Now it’s time to assemble the wood frame from the 1″ x 2″ pieces.

Place the pieces on a flat surface in the shape of the frame.

Apply wood glue to one of the 45-degree angles; then, align the angle to the other boards’ angle cut. The edges should be flush.

TIP: Use a square to make sure the pieces are positioned correctly.

Now, hammer two 2” nails into the angles on one side. This will help to hold the corner together.

Repeat for the other three corners; then, glue and nail them each into place. 

TIP: Glue the third and four corners at the same time.

Next, clamp the frame together.

using clamps to clamp a wooden frame together

Let the frame sit until the glue dries (Read the instructions for the full cure time on your glue bottle.)

Finally, sand the frame with your orbital sander to remove any glue residue or uneven corners.

STEP 3: APPLY A FINISH TO THE WOOD

Wipe the wood with a dry cloth; then, either stain the frames or finish them with Tung oil.

SIDE NOTE: I used Tung oil on this frame, and if you’re curious, find out why tung oil is my favorite wood finish.

While the frames are drying, take the 3/8″ pieces and paint them black using spray paint. Or you can use the same finish as the frame on the 3/4″ dowels. Let them dry completely.

SIDE NOTE: You can spray-paint the MDF sign now. Remember to paint both sides.

TIP: A spray grip accessory keeps the paint off your fingers when spray painting.

Apply a second coat to give you the coverage you want.

STEP 4: FINISH ASSEMBLING THE WOOD FRAME

When the frame and 3/8″ pieces have dried completely, you’re ready to put it all together.

First, decide what side of the wooden frame you want for the front (the one that will be displayed) and place this side of the frame down on a flat surface.

TIP: I like to use cardboard to protect the wood from scratching.

You will be adding the 3/8″ pieces to the sides of the frame. 

Take one of the 12-7/8″ x 3/8″ pieces and place glue lightly on one side of the piece that will sit on the frame. Then, attach the piece to the frame.

Align the top of the piece to the frame and the side. Then, using the 5/8″ nails, nail the piece to the frame.

attach inside piece for wood frame

TIP: Remember not to nail where earlier nails have been placed.

Now, take a 3/8″ x 25-3/8″ piece and lightly glue this piece so that it will be placed at the bottom or top of the frame. Then, put it onto the frame, align the piece, and nail it in place with the 5/8″ nails.

Next, attach the last two 3/8″ pieces the same way as the first and second.

back of wooden frame with 3/8" dowels installed

Let the frame sit for 24 hours to dry completely.

STEP 5: ATTACH THE TURN BUTTONS

Once the frame has dried, you can attach the turn buttons to the back of the frame to hold the sign in place.

turn buttons for back of wood frame

TIP: I always recommend pre-drilling holes before adding screws to prevent the wood from spilling.

drilling into wooden sign frame

Install the turn buttons around the wood frame using the screws provided. Install as many as you need to keep the sign in place.

turn buttons attached on back of sign frame

STEP 6: CREATE YOUR SIGN

While the wood frame is drying, it’s a great time to make the holiday message that will be displayed.

There are many ways to create a sign. You can use a fancy machine, like a Cricut, or you can use a paper and pencil to transfer your design onto the wood. See my post on creating a Merry Christmas sign to see the process of transferring your design onto the wood. Or you can create a chalkboard sign with this tutorial on different ways to create chalkboard lettering.

DIY painted holiday sign

STEP 9: CUT THE BACKING MAT (OR BOARD)

I would recommend using a mat behind the sign. It will prevent any gap between the sign and the frame.

Cut the backing mat to the same size of the sign, 12″x24″, using a razor blade and ruler. 

back of changeable wood frame for sign

STEP 8: DISPLAY THE SIGN

Finally, move the turn buttons to allow the sign to be inserted into the wood frame. Place the backing mat over the sign; then, adjust the turn buttons to hold the sign in place. 

Now your wood frame is ready to hang on the wall, but it can also be placed on a shelf.

If you are hanging the frame on the wall, I would recommend using 3M command strips to avoid damaging your walls. See my step-by-step tutorial on how to hang pictures without nails in your home.

Install the frame to the wall and enjoy your new holiday sign.

Merry Christmas sign for the holiday

Remember, this frame is easily changeable by removing the frame from the wall, and moving the turn buttons to allow you to insert a new sign. 

I can think of so many different occasions this would be perfect for! Plus, this would make an incredible, customized gift for someone (Mother’s Day, birthday, home welcoming, Christmas, any other holiday or celebration).

Yield: one frame

How to Build a Changeable Wooden Frame for Signs

wooden frame with chalkboard insert

Easily change a wood sign on your wall with this DIY easy changeable frame. Quickly change out your home decor sign each season with an interchangeable frame.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Active Time 1 hour
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $20

Materials

  • one - 1" x 2" x 8' boards
  • three - 3/8" x 36" square dowel
  • 1/4" x 2' x 2' MDF sheet
  • turn buttons
  • 5/8" finishing nails
  • 2" finishing nails
  • wood glue
  • black spray paint (optional)
  • wood stain or Tung oil

Tools

  • miter saw
  • circular saw or table saw
  • orbital sander
  • clamps
  • square
  • air compressor with a nail gun
  • safety glasses
  • face mask (for dust)
  • ear protection

Instructions

  1. Cut the wood to the cut list then sand all the pieces.
  2. Build the wooden frame for the sign with the 1"x2" pieces with wood glue and 2" nails.
  3. Apply a finish to the wood whether that is stain or something else.
  4. Attach the 3/8" pieces to the frame with glue and nails then allow the glue to dry.
  5. Install turn buttons to the back of the frame.
  6. Create your sign(s) from the 1/4" boards.
  7. Cut a backing mat for the back of the frame.
  8. Place the sign then mat into place inside the frame then display the sign inside your home.

2 Comments

  1. What do you make the backing you suggest out of, the 1/4” board as well? Thanks for the great tutorial!

    1. Thanks for the sweet comment. The backing is a 1/8″ mat that you can find at a craft store. It is sometimes used to create the mat border you find around pictures.

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