A tutorial on how to build easy changeable frames for signs. Quickly change what sign is displaying any season and save on storage space!
Do you want an easy way to change wooden signs? I have a fantastic solution, and it’s a changeable frame, like a picture frame. This wood frame will also help you save on storage space because you will not have to store a frame, plus you can have a double-sided sign.
Let me share with you the full step-by-step tutorial on how to make your interchangeable frame.
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DIY CHANGEABLE WOOD FRAME
- 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
- miter saw
- circular saw or table saw
- orbital sander
- air compressor with a nail gun
- safety glasses
- face mask (for dust)
- ear protection
You can print the material list and instructions below.
Do you need a video? Here a the step-by-step video tutorial on how to build this changeable 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 (aka: 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 the wood with a #220 grit sandpaper until they are smooth then wipe with a cloth to remove dust.
STEP 2: Build the wood frame
Now its time to build the wood frame from the 1″ x 2″ pieces.
Place the pieces on a flat surface in the shape of the frame.
Place wood glue on one of the 45-degree angles then align the angle to the other boards’ angle cut. The edges should be flush.
TIP: Use the square to make sure the angle is square.
Then using the 2″ nails, place two nails into the angles on one side. This will help hold the corner together.
Complete this same process for the other three corners, glue, and nail them each into place.
TIP: Glue the third and four corners at the same time.
Then clamp the frame together.
Let the frame sit until the glue is fully dry. Read the instructions for the full cure time on your glue bottle.
STEP 3: Apply a finish to the wood
Now that the frame is made, you can finish adding the other pieces of wood. But first, take the sander and sand the frame to remove any glue residue or uneven corners.
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, you can see 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 too. Remember to paint both sides.
TIP: A spray grip accessory helps not to get paint on 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 attach everything.
Decide what side of the wooden frame you want for the front (the one that will show), 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, place glue lightly on one side of the piece that will sit on the frame. Then place the piece onto 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.
TIP: Remember not to nail where other 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.
Then attach the last two 3/8″ pieces the same way as the first and second.
Let the frame sit for 24 hours to dry fully.
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.
TIP: I always recommend pre-drilling holes before adding screws to prevent the wood from spilling.
Install the turn buttons around the wood frame using the screws provided. Install enough to keep the sign in place.
STEP 6: Create your sign
While the wood frame is drying, its a great time to start creating your sign.
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.
STEP 9: CUT THE BACKING MAT (or board)
You can skip this step if you want to, but this mat will help there be no gap between the sign and the frame. I would recommend using a mat behind the sign.
Cut backing mat to the same size of the sign, 12″x24″.
STEP 8: Display the sign
Prepare the wood frame 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 because they require no nails. Not sure about them, see my step-by-step tutorial on how to hang pictures without nails in your home.
Then move the turn buttons to allow the sign to be inserted into the wood frame. Place the backing mat over the sign then turn the turn buttons to hold the sign in place.
Install the frame to the wall and enjoy your new sign.
Remember, this frame is easily changeable, just like a picture frame, removing the frame from the wall then turn the turn buttons to allow you to adjust the sign.
I can think of so many different signs this would be fantastic for, can you? Plus, this would be an incredible gift for someone (mother’s day, birthday, home welcoming, Christmas, any other holiday or celebration).
This project is part of the At Home DIY challenges for wooden gift ideas, be use to see all the other projects.