DIY Cardboard Picture Frame Stands

I recently helped Safe Passage set up for their annual non-profit fundraiser event, which featured a silent auction with a bunch of framed artwork up for bid. Problem was, they had no usable wall space in the room they were renting. So I figured out a template for some handy cardboard picture frame stands to be used as table-top displays. I figured I’d share in case anybody’s Googlin’ for solutions.

First, I found some good-sized cardboard boxes. Thicker cardboard is of course better, but will be harder to cut cleanly. Consider using the big side of a box plus a flap if it gets you the size you need (the fold will likely not affect this design). Get your straight edge, your exacto knife, and hopefully something like a cutting mat or scrap cardboard to keep your floor/carpet/pets from getting sliced up. Cut as shown below — the dotted line refers to scoring and folding the cardboard.

You can scale or alter the above measurements to what you need, depending on the size of the cardboard you’re working with. The important things to remember are:

1. The bottom angle cut (in above example, the bottom-to-4″ angle) dictates how much back support your framed picture will have. If you don’t make that angle steep enough, a tall portrait might fall backwards.

2. The height of the stand (in above, the 14″ or 15″ measurement) dictates how steep the slope that the picture is resting on is going to be. Smaller pictures can get away with less slope (a more upright, taller stand), larger ones will need to lean back a little bit more (squatter, shorter stand). But obviously if it leans back TOO far, that’s no good either. So a lot depends on what sort of picture you’re trying to display. I’d recommend you start big & upright, and trim it down until it’s right for what you’re displaying.

3. The 5″ measurement above is arbitrary, as is the 3″ width and the angled tip. This is the ledge that’s going to prevent the picture from sliding forward, so it needs to be a good-sized lip if you have a big framed picture. Note that this is the only bit not obscured by the picture frame, so you might want to make it look ‘nice’.

4. I recommend you fold the piece of cardboard in half, draw half of the design on it, and cut through both pieces at the same time with a boxcutter. That’ll give you more uniform sides.

5. This is a pretty basic look. If you want your table display to look a little more ‘refined,’ consider draping some fabric over the whole stand (or multiple stands) before putting the picture on it. It won’t affect it’s sturdiness as long as the pictures can’t slip part the lip/ledge.

Above you can see that I’ve also added a no-frills support board to keep the ‘legs’ from sliding too far apart (though technically the picture frame in the ‘ledge’ should take care of that anyway). It doesn’t matter what they look like since they’ll be behind a picture, right? So consider those to be optional. If you use the stands without the middle support piece, you can adjust the lean of the picture by moving the legs closer or further apart.

Above you can see that this simple solution can hold a fair amount of weight (those are 18″x24″ prints in wood & glass frames). These cardboard picture stands are cheap, not super-hard to produce, and easily fold up for future use. Or recycle them. Or throw them in the river, I don’t care. Good luck!

If you found this post helpful, please consider donating to Safe Passage.

The Gossip poster is by Aesthetic Apparatus
The Neko Case poster is by me, and perhaps it’s for sale.

10 thoughts on “DIY Cardboard Picture Frame Stands

  1. Thank you!! This is exactly what I was looking for!! Incredibly helpful, and a great result!
    Cheers, Erin

  2. Thanks for putting this up and sharing what you took the time work out so that others could benefit from it. very nice of you.

  3. The Internet is a brilliant place to find things, only when people take the time to put things on. Which you did and I’m very thankful for that. I have a craft fair with my paintings on Sunday guess what I’ll be doing tomorrow. Thanks again.

  4. Great design ! I’ve a solo exhibition in a weeks time and I was looking at buying 10 display easel when i can least afford it . Thank you so much for posting this ,your a star.

  5. I am currently planning a cheap wedding and I was having a hard time coming up with a solution for seating arrangement frame stand. It’s kinda big and heavy so I was very happy and impressed too when I saw your craft. Thanks a lot mister!

    p.s. bye bye expensive giant easel ;)

  6. I have just made 6, scaled down for a tabletop display at an art fair tomorrow. Many many thanks.

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