Make a Unique Stone Picture Frame

I love it when my crafty little escapades leave me with a phenomenal product that I know I’ll have in my home for years to come. My personal aestetic in home decor lends itself to be earthy and natural, and in today’s post I’ll show you how I made a picture frame using a very natural material in a creative application.

The finished piece was inexpensive too (think, <$5), and anyone could make their own interpretation of it with the right resources and inspiration.

Beach shale stone upcycle into a frame.

Keep on reading to learn more about how I made this stone picture frame!

Shale stones–the mothership of the more commonly known “slate”–are in abundance on our local Western New York beaches, and I’ve taken to collecting them over the years. Last spring, I even tiled the entryway of my home in these little black stones, and it’s one of my proudest projects (you can read about it here and here).

I used a few very specific tools and materials for this project, most of which I fortunately had around the house:

  • Scrap wood to make a base picture frame
  • Four flat corner braces to assemble the light weight picture frame (this is where I spent the $5)
  • Thinset adhesive for wall and floor tile installation (I already had some from a previous project, but you can get a quart of it pre-mixed for about $6)
  • A wet saw with a diamond blade

I started by creating a simple frame to house a 5″x7″ pane of glass. For this, I used scrap wood, and more specifically, scrap shiplap from a previous project. The piece of scrap shiplap I had happened to be perfect because the rabbeted edge of the board easily serves as an inset area for the frame glass and picture that are being framed. (If you don’t have scrap shiplap laying around your basement, and I don’t expect you do, you can achieve the same inset effect by cutting the edge of a 1x board with a 1/2″ rabbet bit with a router.)

I used flat corner braces to assemble the frame securely (a small $5 investment for convenience). For frames heavier or larger, I usually put trust in biscuits or heavier duty mending strips like shown in this project, but this frame was small and lightweight.

5x7 picture frame assembled using scrap shiplap and corner braces.

Once the frame was made, I selected a bunch of rocks from my stash. The thinner, larger stones worked best.

Beach shale upcycle.

I wasn’t actually sure how well the wet saw would cut through irregular stones; I took a chance, set the saw to cut slivers measuring 1.5 cm wide, covered my eyes and ears and started trying. Cuts like butter.

Wet saw to cut flat stones.

Cutting stones with a wet saw in a cold basement on a 29 degree day wasn’t the coziest idea, but in a short hour I managed to get enough pieces trimmed to cover the whole front of the frame. I dry fit the pieces periodically to gauge how many I would need.

Dry fitting the shale on the picture frame.

If you’ve never used a wet saw before, you should be forewarned that it’s always messy, and you usually end up looking like you soiled yourself heavily, but it’s easy to use once you get the hang of it, just like a table saw with a spraying fountain attached.

Wet saw aftermath.

I digress. With the stones washed and air dried, I began attaching them to the wooden frame with leftover thinset adhesive, the same kind of adhesive used for installing floor and wall tiles. I used a trowel and buttered it on the frame liberally so that the stones would have something to grasp onto.

Beginning to adhere the stone slivers to the wooden frame.

I really liked how in repetition, the pieces of cut shale on end looked a lot like stacked flagstone.

Shale picture frame that looks like flagstone.

The frame itself was left to dry overnight before I inserted the glass panel on the back and a picture from our personal collection.

Shale picture frame DIY.

I attached a wire on the back using the flat brackets for convenience once again, and we’ve since been enjoying it in our home.

Shale picture frame DIY.

I thought it was appropriate that the frame contain me and my parents (circa 1980′s) since the stones were from their beach. We ordered some new 5×7′s from our recent honeymoon that can update the frame over time.

Shale picture frame DIY.

Catching the home improvement bug at an early age, Emily Winters is a now a devoted DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects she covers on her blog Merrypad range from painting a wall to building a deck, so it’s only natural she landed at DIYNetwork.com. You can follow Emily on twitter at @merrypad and like her on facebook at facebook.com/merrypad.

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About Emily Fazio 

253Posts

I caught the home improvement bug at an early age, and now I'm a full-time DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects I cover on my blog Merrypad range ...

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