Rustic Wood Project

By Mark Morris

Rustic wood from barns and other sources is a common material for interior decor accent pieces. Old wood, especially wood that has been weathered, or painted and distressed, has a patina all its own. Using unique materials in your projects is one way to set them apart as one of a kind. A picture frame is a good beginner's project for building with rustic wood.

Salvaging Materials

Materials can be found in a variety of places. One of the most common sources is old weathered barns and other outbuildings. One way to get free barn wood is to offer to tear down and remove an old barn that is damaged beyond repair, for free. Stockade and other wooden fences are another good source of free materials. The fence pickets are typically disposed of. Select material between 3/4- and 1-inch thick. Select a material that you can get four good pieces out of, one for each side of your frame. Choose a material with a finish, or weathering that you like.

Wood Preparation

Remove all old nails from your salvaged lumber with locking pliers and a claw hammer. Remove screws with a drill. Metal hardware is no good for power saws so scan the material carefully to ensure it is all removed. Cut off rotted sections of your wood with a handheld cutting tool, circular saw or miter saw. Use a stiff nylon-bristle brush or handheld tool fitted with a nylon-bristle brush to scrub dirt and debris from the surface. Lightly sand the wood with a very fine sandpaper or handheld sanding tool to remove splinters. Sand cautiously, as sanding too deep will remove the oxidized layer, revealing "new" looking wood that may destroy your effect.

Cutting Parts

Cut your material to width using a circular saw, table saw or handheld cutting tool so that all material is the same width. Measure your picture and cut the pieces for your frame to fit. Cut two pieces for the top and bottom and two for the sides. Make the pieces as long as the edges, plus twice the width of your material, minus 1 inch. Miter each end of each piece at 45 degrees, with one right and one left miter on each piece to form a long trapezoid, using a miter saw or a handheld saw with a miter box. Use a router with a 1/2 inch rabbet bit to cut a 1/2-by-1/2 inch groove along the short edge of the back of each frame pieces.


Apply glue to the beveled ends of the pieces and fit them together into a rectangle. Adjust the pieces so that the corners fit nice and tight. Use wood clamps to hold your pieces in place and use an air nailer to drive finishing brads through the corners to hold the joints. Leave the clamps on until the glue hardens. Remove the clamps and place your art into the 1/2-inch groove running around the inside of the back of your frame. Use wide masking tape to hold it in place and add picture hanging hardware, available in a kit with instructions at your local hardware store, to the back for hanging.

© Demand Media 2011