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!
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
- one – 1″ x 2″ x 8′ boards
- three – 3/8″ x 36″ square dowel
- 1/4″ x 2′ x 2′ MDF sheet
- 24″ matboard (for the back)
- turn buttons
- 5/8″ finishing nails
- 2″ finishing nails
- wood glue
- black spray paint (optional)
- wood stain or Tung oil
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 as many as you need to keep the sign in place.
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.
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.
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.
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).