Skill Level: Beginner

Tools Needed: Wood frame (this is a 5 x 7″ size), Water-based stain (this color is “Jacobean” from Minwax), acrylic paint water-based varnish (or other water-based sealants), paint brush or rag for stain, plastic picture glass or Plexiglas, sponge paintbrush (stencil brush), plastic stencil of your choice, picture hanging hardware, 320-grit sandpaper

Because I haven’t worked with wood in a little while, and because I had a perfect photo to go with a frame that was stained with this dark color that I’d already bought, I decided to craft a photo frame instead of buy one. If you would rather buy one, click here to go to my Etsy store.

Wood frame after staining


1.) Before staining wood, sand and clean the wood, even it it’s something already shaped and “ready” like this is.  I did a light sanding with a 320-grit sandpaper just to make sure  it’s ready for stain. Then I wiped it off with a lint- free cloth, slightly dampened. After the frame dried it was ready for stain!

I like to brush this stain on with a sponge brush because I like the dark look of it. Wiping stain on with a cloth will give you a lighter version of your color. This is really about preference here and how your particular piece of wood will take stain.  Most of the craft store wood frames are a soft wood like this pine and will just soak up the stain.

Stencil applied, stencil brush shown on right side.

2.) Stain dries pretty quickly, but I gave it at least a day to fully dry before I stenciled the design on it. I used acrylic paint – you can find it in any craft store. Stenciling is easy once you get the hang of it.  The trick is to keep  the stencil stable while you paint. Adhesive stencils are always best. These were not adhesive, so I had to tape the stencil down first. As you can see, the bottom stencil moved some on me and the pattern came out blurry. This will also happen if you have too much paint on your stencil brush (which is what happened here). The top stencil, which looks a lot better in my opinion, was done after I had experimented with the bottom stencil.

Frame after 2 coats of varnish

3.) After I let my stencil dry, I used some water- based acrylic paint varnish to seal everything.  The varnish is in a satin finish to give it that shine. (pictured.) Once this was dry it was ready to assemble!


4.) This particular frame didn’t come with a glass to hold and preserve photos, so I purchased a plastic  one from a local craft store. I also purchased a photo matte sized for the frame and picture (here, a 5×7 matte with a 4×6 picture opening). Because of the frame style, I had to cut the corners of the matte and safety glass to get them in the frame.

5.) I attached a sawtooth picture hanger on the back of the frame to hang it to the wall. Now it’s ready for my favorite photo!

Lessons Learned

1.) Don’t load up stencil brush with paint and keep stencil in place when stenciling. This will take time.

2.) I didn’t like having to work with a rounded-edge frame, like this, so I probably wont do this again soon.

3.) Stain is awesome, but it’s even better with a sealant. Always seal if you want that professional polished look!

Similar Posts