Artist, Illustrator, blogger

Custom Float Mount Frame

Custom Float Mount Frame

I don’t know about you all, but as an artist supplies can get expensive… especially canvases. People tend to give me canvases that they no longer have a use for or gift them to me as presents. They are usually the smaller 1/2″ wide frames, you know the student grade canvases? Most times, the canvases that I inherit aren’t always in the nicest shape, for example they do not lay perfectly flat on their own meaning there is some warping of the wood frame. I never turn any canvas down and paint on them anyways, but that leaves me with finished art that doesn’t always present itself very nice on it’s own.

1/2″ wide frames and warped canvases definitely devalue your finished artwork, so what I’ve finally learned how to do was frame those pieces with wood. It really makes your artwork look amazing. Honestly, I feel like almost any kind of art with a nice frame looks amazing. It turns out that those 1/2″ wide frames work PERFECT for framing!

I’m not talking about just any old framing technique either, I’m talking FLOAT MOUNTING!

Float Mounting takes a little longer than creating a frame that flushes to the edges of the canvas, but trust me it is so worth that extra time.

Here is the step-by-step process I went through to create my frame:

1. Gather all the Tools and Supplies
Tools Needed:
– Saw
– Miter Box (I used a cheap plastic $5 box)
– Clamps
– Ratchet Straps
– Pencil
– Paint brushes
– Hammer

Supplies Needed:
– Wood (I used 1″ x 2″ (exact size is really 3/4″ x 1 1/2″) nicely sanded pine pieces that were 6′ long) for the piece in this example = 3 pieces, each piece cost about $2
– Wood Glue (I used Gorilla wood glue brand)
– Nails that are at least 1/4″ – 1/2″ longer than the width of your canvas frame, these will be driven through your canvas into the wood frame behind it
– sandpaper (I used 120 grit, but I think I would have liked to also have something a little tougher like 60 grit as well)
– Wood Stain or Paint (wood stain was a little too pricey for me, so I ended up using acrylic washes to get the same effect)
– Frame Hanging Supplies (wire, eye hooks, and hanger hook/nails)

2. First things first, you need to Cut Your Wood Pieces to Size
I’ve never cut wood at a 45 degree angle, so there was a little learning curve for me. I didn’t have to re-cut anything, but I did have some pieces that were not 100% straight that I later had to sand down to fit together when it came time to gluing. You will be cutting two pieces of wood for each side, for a total of eight pieces. There will be a bottom pieces for the canvas to be nailed into (you will only see this piece where there is a gap between your painting and the edge of the other piece of wood) and side pieces for the edges of the frame.

– All the frame pieces that will be on the bottom will be cut at a 45 degree angle LENGTH-WISE (hot dog style) and should be the length of the canvas + the amount of float space you want (remember to add to both sides)
   For example, if your canvas is 24″ h x 48″ w and you want to have 1/2″ of float space around the canvas, you would need to cut two pieces that were 25″ and 49″ (once cut this will be the longest/ outer part of the wood piece, the inner piece will be shorter in length at a 45 degree angle and butt next to the other 45 degree angle piece = perfect 90 degree corner)

– All the frame pieces that will be on the outer edge will be cut at a 45 degree angle WIDTH-WISE (hamburger style) and fit seamlessly to the bottom wood pieces. The bottom/shorter side portion of the frame edge piece should be the exact same length as the longer part of the bottom wood piece.

3. Glue Pieces Together
Glue bottom pieces of wood to the bottom side (frame edge) pieces and then clamp together. If any glue oozes out, wipe it away before it dries or else you will have to sand the dried glue down later on.
NOTE: Add a small piece of wood in between clamp and outer edge of frame to avoid any indention from the clamps
I had to glue each piece individually and wait since I only had two clamps. I let each piece dry for 1/2 hour to an hour before releasing. While I waited, I painted the dry pieces (See Step 4).

– Once the pieces were dried, I matched up all of the pieces to see if they fit. When I put them together, there were definitely some edges that didn’t quite match up and this made me realize that I should have been a little more careful when I cut the 45 degree angles on the pieces.
– To fix this, I sanded down the edges until they fit just right. I think this would have been a tad faster with some 60 grit sandpaper and then finishing off with the 120 grit.

4. Apply Wood Stain or Paint to the Wood
I chose to use washes of watered down acrylic paint because I already had tons on hand. All I used was a black craft paint and I think it looks just as good as wood stain. You can still see some of the wood grain and it dried very quickly. Plus there’s no oily feel to the wood. I didn’t paint all of the wood either, just the areas that would be viewed when it was hung. There’s no harm in painting the whole thing, this was just my preference. 

5. Glue Four Frame Pieces Together
After making sure the pieces fit properly together, you are finally ready to glue the frame together! Make sure to have your Ratchet Straps ready for this part.
– Glue all four sides together with a good amount of glue
– Wipe away any excess glue
– Strap around the perimeter of the frame and lock it tightly together

– Let dry for at least an hour, maybe even two before releasing straps… Since I am a little impatient, after about 1/2 hour I moved on to Step 6, but left the straps on 🙂

6. Nail Canvas into the Back of the Frame
I did this while the ratchet straps were still holding the frame together, so I tried to be a delicate as possible with flipping the frame over. 
– First you need to place your canvas into the frame facing upwards and line it up so that the float space is equal on each side. 
– Once this is achieved, clamp your canvas in place and flip over gently (making sure the canvas doesn’t shift in the process).
– When the frame is flipped over nail the canvas into the frame and make sure not to accidentally nail into the float space. The space I left between each nail was about an inch or two, I wanted to make sure the canvas wouldn’t even think about separating from the frame!

7. Prepare the Framed Canvas for Hanging!
The final step is adding eye hooks and wire to your frame. You will do this to the interior wood pieces of your canvas, I usually put the wire at about 3/4 way to the top of the canvas.

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