DIY Cardboard Picture Stands

I was recently helping Safe Passage set up for their big non-profit fundraiser event, featuring a silent auction that had a bunch of framed artwork up for bid. Problem was,they had no usable wall space in the function room they were using. So I figured out a template for some handy picture frame stands that could be made out of cardboard and used as table-top displays. I’m not claiming this is rocket science or anything, but I figured I’d share in case anybody’s Googlin’ for solutions.

First, I got me some good-sized cardboard boxes. Thicker cardboard is of course better, but will be harder to cut cleanly. Feel free to use the big side of a box plus a flap if it gets you the size you need. 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—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 hunk 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 if someone bumps into the table it’s sitting on.

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 (taller stand), larger ones will need to lean back a little bit more (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. You can always start big and trim it down if need be.

3. The 5″ measurement above is arbitrary, as is the 3″ width and the snappy angled tip. This is just the ledge that’s going to hold the picture from sliding out, so it needs to be a good-sized lip if you have a big framed picture. And it should look a little snappy since it’s the part that will be viewable.

4. I would suggest you fold the piece of cardboard first, draw half of the design on it & cut through both pieces at the same time with a boxcutter or something. That’ll give you more uniform sides.

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+’ledge’ should take care of that anyway). I just took leftover scrap cardboard and snipped in little angled notches. 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, the closer the legs are to each other, the more the picture will lean back. Further apart = more upright. Depending on the table surface and the frame style, they might move around a little on ya. A further fancifying (that’s a word) option would be to drape some fabric over the front of the stand before putting the picture on it.

Above you can see that this simple little solution can hold a good amount of weight (those are roughly 18×24 prints in wood/glass frames). These cardboard picture stands are cheap, not super-hard to produce, and easy to fold up and store away for future use. Or recycle them. Or throw them in the river, I don’t care. GOOD LUCK!

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

4 thoughts on “DIY Cardboard Picture 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.

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