Say hi to the KanojoFrame!

Hi and welcome to a new full fledged (i at least hope so) tutorial to hack together a fast-switch picture frame, our so-called “KanojoFrame”. As i must admit the idea is not fully genuinely ours, we designed and built it with the moo-frame from the excellent business-card supplier Moo Mosaic-Frame.

The idea is to have a frame thats front glass plate is dismount- and mountable in the glimpse of a eye thus allowing to change the contents without too much of a hassle. The other aspect is that the whole content of the frame is made up of a mosaic of mini-pictures framed by small but thick cardboard frames. You can then use cardboard spacer to lay the small framed image-“cards” ( are half business cards, ours are roughly creditcard-size) out in every way you want to create a nice compilation of the works displayed!

The frame itself is quite flat, 6mm without glass, rougly 8.5mm with the glass front attached. The glass it held by a couple of strong rare-earth magnets and sits very tight, so no worries about falling glass. The inner frame can hold around 7*3(=21) of our cardboard-mini-frames, but … see for yourself! And if you feel like it, make one yourself….

As for the materials we have used it’s actually quite simple. The most exotic thing you would need to also built a frame is (if you want it nice n woody) veneer although it could be substituted for something else and equally nice (later more on that).

Here a small list of what you would need (the frame itself, not the “mini frames”):

  • a angle-saw or angled saw guide (i used something like this: gehrungssäge but other things like a regular wood saw and this: sägeblock would work too)
  • HDF plates / “bars” to your liking (depends on what inner and outer dimensions you want) and one large “backplate” (details will get clearer with pictures below)
  • regular wood glue, a flat iron (for veneering)
  • veneer (or alternatives, see below)
  • a old brush for applying the glue to veneer/hdf
  • some linseed oil and/or beeswax-glaze
  • some wood drills (depending on the size of your magnets)
  • (optional: a hole cutter, something like this
  • rare earth disc-shaped magnets (we used 12x4mm and 10x3mm)
  • 2 component (epoxy) glue
  • Some glass, harvest it from the cheapest picture frames you can get or – even better – old windows. Ask the nearest glazier, whatever comes in handy.
  • A glass cutter – good hardmetal (tungsten carbide) wheeled cutter is recommended as they really really yield nice results with minimal “learning-cost” (read: glass plates you’ve ruined)
  • some ~2-3mm thick homogenious (non-crinkeled) cardboard
  • (optional: spraymount glue)
  • regular 80g plain paper
  • some metal frame hangers

I hope that list didn’t scar you off. But some of the things can be left out while others are “standard equipment” – at least more or less…

Okay, now onto the making! First we’re gonna make the frames for the roughly creditcard sized pictures out of ~2-3mm thick cardboard which is plated with plain paper to beautify it a little…

one piece of our cardboard, already cut to the right outer dimensions. inner cut dimensions are already marked.


To cut such thick cardboard we used a good(!) cutter (the japanese brand "olfa" makes godlike cutters! but use whatever suits use) and a metal ruler. align the ruler carefully, then first cut the surface a little without applying too much pressure. that way you won't slip. Then cut again a few times each time with a little bit more pressure. for the inner cutout ... see below


The large piece of cardboard which is our source for the mini-frames. It is marketed as material for bookbinding, maybe check your nearby arts-store?


First test picture "clipped" into the frame - success!


As the inner cutouts tend to get a little tricky i first made little slots at the corners (without a ruler)


then cut alogn the edges as described above (first without pressure...


now turn around the cardboard, you'll see that you've probably missed a few millimeters of the last layer in the edges - go back to the other side again and cut into the corners carefully at a large angle


Now as the frames are finished you can beautify them by cutting out a just-a-tad-larger piece of paper


and mount it on the frames with spray mount (or whatever you have at hand...)


differences - this is why you wanna get some additional plain paper over it 🙂


beautified mini-frame


After giving all hdf "bars" a 45-degree-sawoff glue the 45 degree edges of the hdf "bars" with a thick layer of wood glue


lay them flat on a piece of paper, newspaper or whatever may get dirty and get ripped later...


carefully align all the pieces to be at exact right angles (if you've used a sub-par angle-saw as i did you may see small gaps, just fill them by pressing some additional glue in with your fingers.)


filled 45-degree gluespot


smeared all the edges a little - this saves some sanding time later.


to hold the edges together a little i used crepe-tape. apply it with care, you could move the carefully aligned pieces of hdf again!


And here is that little point where you could do something other than veneering. You could – for example – sand the surface of the HDF up to 220Grit and paint it using acrylic paint. First prime using acrylic primer two times, then sand again using 400grit, then paint two or three times in whatever colour you want. You can also get creative and glue colourful napkins on it, glue paper on it and paint on it, you choose, get creative!

I have learend the veneering technique shown here from Nordic-Audio – it’s described nicely and even has a video attached, so if you don’t speak german either try the google-translation or just watch the video (which should be explainatory enough). This is also the reason why i haven’t documented and described the veneering tech in detail – this guy’s better at it! 🙂


Now for the veneer - after the hdf outer-frame dried completely i placed it on two mirrored pieces of veneer (here: maple) and drew a line around it. then i cut with a good buffer (~3-8cm) around those lines on both of the mirrored pieces


mark for cutting


next step is to smear the veneer with the wood glue, apply a thick~ish layer so the whole piece is slightly milky-white. it'll soon roll itself up, but don't worry, it'll work anyways. also smear the hdf-frame


smeared hdf frame


veneering workplace with the already half-veneered hdf-frame.


the first broken edge looks like this


as you can see there was a little problem caused by veneering the hdf - the heat of the iron made the hdf-outer-frame bend a little. this has to be corrected later ;/


piece of veneer with not yet broken edges.


first half is now finished...


the point where the next half of veneer would hit is a little crucial so it has to be sanded down to get almost flat towards the end


detail of the flattening


detail of the flattening


else the first veneering part looks okay - clean edges with no raptures, flat and even veneer


the second half was now also veneered and the backplate is glued on. note that some space must remain between the outer border of the backplate and the outer edges of the outer-frame. the intersection between both sanded down to be level.


the whole thing is flat and smooth without any bubbles or raptures at the edges


the intersections between the two parts of mirrored veneer are also clean, flat and smooth - and in reallife barely vissible.


The next step is wood finishing - first sand the veneer with 120, 220, 400 grit paper, then wet it with a sponge, let it dry and sand it with 400grit again (only sand along the streaks/with the wood-texture). then apply some linseed oil, let it stand on the wood for ~5minutes and wipe it off again. This will make the texture of the wood come out nicely and have a little protective effect. !!! be careful with paper/fabric that is linseed-oil-soaked - it can self-ignite !!!


Then as a second step of wood finishing (after 2 days of linseed-oil-drying in a warm, dry place with direct sunlight light) is applying beeswax-glaze. I've opted for a "milky-white" version of the glaze to set the wood a little back, it is only a frame after all..!


after applying thickly and letting it stay there for ~5-10 minutes take a clean and fine cotton sheet and start polishing the wax in circular motions with medium pressure. you'll see a sligh "semigloss" appear - that's exactly the effect we want that'll look nice behind glass!


finished polishing ... damn photos, you never see nice textures on them!


finished polishing ... damn photos, you never see nice textures on them!


finished polishing ... damn photos, you never see nice textures on them!


Now to mount the magnets i drilled a hole from the backside and used a hole-cutter (see above) to enlarge it step by step so the magnets would just fit in really tightly


you can see the inverted cone a little


the front had to be cleaned a bit using 400 grit, then polish again a little using the cotton sheet from before to restore the texture around the hole. Now smear just a little bit of your 2k-epoxy-glue into the hole (from behind) - be careful not to smear the frontside - and press the magnets in. carefully wipe off any excess 2k from the front.


to beautify the edges (inner and outer) we used crepe-tape to mask the outer-frame off and painted the edges using acrylic paint - here the inner edge...


and here the outer edge (shows the masking from below)


inner edges ready!


more painting on the outer edges...


aaand now for the frontplate - we've used harvested glass from cheap n ugly picture frames. the cutter is a "silberschnitt" cutter with a hardmetal/tungsten-carbide wheel. We use the (crappy quality) HDF backplates that came with the cheapo-pic-frames as a underground for cutting. use a long metal-bar as a guide and using medium pressure (you hear when you're doing right - it should sound like it's scratching but not like scrubbing with sand). Cut in one steady stream, never stop or go back!, then break carefully over a edge (it'll just break cleanly without any sharp corners if you've cut in one long stream)


Now place the glassplate on the frame and align it. take the other magnets and put a little drop of 2 components-glue on it. let them snap on the glass over the other magnets carefully and slowly


snapped on and glued magnet.


magnets already holding the glass tightly - technically you wouldn't need any more magnets. As you may remember the hdf bend a little from the heat from the iron while veneering - this causes a huge gap between glass and wood so we had/have to add more magnets to press the glass against the wood to close the gap... ;/


First test with the frames... Also to beautify the inner part of the frame a bit more we sprayed a large sheet of plain paper using spraymount (use whatever glue you have at hand).


they line up nicely, the height matches almost perfect!


Some real pictures inserted!


To hang the frame we used plain metal frame-hangers which are meant to be screwed onto the wood - as the hdf is rather thin here this isn't possible...


... so we just smeared a huge load of 2-component epoxy under and over the edges of the hanger


... like this


... and if you smear enough and carefully ...


... IT'LL HANG!!!


so nice!


By the way – the cards displayed here are traded on a german self-painted-card-trading-system called “Kakao-Karten“. The miniframes fit the formats there nicely and whenever you get a landscape-oriented one you can use the spacers and place it anywhere in the frame. If you’re a little less lazy you can fit many many more pictures in it, at all orientations and placements you want!

But it could also be used to display regular large images such as photo printouts or painted or printed pictures. It comes in handy whenever you need a frame with a thick “outer frame” thats contents can be changed easily and often…

I hope you liked this tutorial and idea and will build your own frame using some ideas shown here. Also – as always – if you want exact measures or tips on anything, just mail in or leave a comment. You’ll always be welcome!

3 thoughts on “Say hi to the KanojoFrame!”

  1. Die Idee ist echt klasse :O Finde ich total schön 🙂 Danke für die ausführliche Beschreibung sowie die vielen Bilder, vielleicht leg ich mir auch sowas zu! 😀

    Mfg, Lea <3

    • Hi,

      die Magnete sind nicht besonders stark – primär sind es Neodym Magnete wie man sie z.B. bei bekommt – die reichen.


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