Trends in home decor come and go, but arrows seem to have staying power. They are versatile enough to accent most any decorating style. Instead of purchasing arrows to accent the walls of your home, why not make your own with old picture frames?
Old picture frames are everywhere. You probably already have a stash you just couldn’t bring yourself to throw away after you redecorated a room in your house. You know you have them. Check under your beds or in your garage, basement or attic. Now on the off chance you do not have a stash of old frames, put them on your shopping list for the thrift store, yard sales or auctions. They can literally be picked up for pennies.
Choosing Your Frame
Frames come in a variety of designs and sizes, but square and rectangular shaped frames have the perfect starting “point” for arrows. Yes, that pun was intended. Their corners are already 90 degree angles made with 45 degree cuts. The arrowhead is basically built right in, you just need to cut it loose. The feathers (or fletches) take a little more thought, but not much. You can use either a miter saw or a simple jig saw. The following are a few helpful tips on choosing your frame.
- The frame size should be large. Think wall art size. This will give you enough frame to make at least two arrows.
- The width of the frame has nothing to do with the size of the picture opening. Frame width is the width of the wood borders that surround the picture opening.
- Old, new or weathered wood can be used. If you will not be painting your finished arrow, you may want to consider a finish on the picture frame that will complement the wood of the arrow’s shaft.
Making the Arrow
The large wood frame used to make the arrow for this article has 2″ wide frame sides. Adjust the measurements in the instructions to accommodate frames with wider or narrower frame sides.
Things You Will Need:
- Large wood picture frame, square or rectangle
- Miter saw or jig saw
- 1 x 2 board, scrap
- Hot glue gun
- Wood screws, nails or staples (drill, hammer or staple gun)
- Spray paint or paint of choice
- Sawtooth hangers
What To Do:
Pick a corner on your frame for the arrowhead. Measure 8 inches to the left and right of the corner and mark with a pencil. Place a ruler across the point, lining up the marks. Trace a line along the ruler across the frame sides.
Cut along the traced lines. Lightly sand the cut edges. That’s it. The arrowhead is done. Note: If using a miter saw, these cuts are 45 and 135 degrees. If using a jig saw, simply cut along the lines.
Safety first. Cut as close to the corners as you can on one side of your frame. This will give you one long board and will eliminate having to balance the frame while creating your miter cuts.
With the frame side you just cut off facing up, cut a 45 degree angle on one end. Measure 1 1/4″ from the mitered cut and make another cut. Repeat twice more for a total of three feathers. Flip the board over with the back facing up. Make a 45 degree angle on the end and cut three feathers in the same way as the first set of feathers. Lightly sand the cut edges.
Cut a 23″ length from a scrap of 1 x 2 board. Lightly sand the cut edges. This is your arrow’s shaft.
Place the arrowhead on your work surface with the back facing up. Choose which side of the shaft will be the front. Apply a dot of hot glue to the front of the shaft on one end. Turn right side down and lay the end on the back of the arrowhead, just below the point. Note: The hot glue is only the first step in securing the arrow parts.
Form the feathers. Take one feather from the first set and one from the second. Line up the ends to form a chevron shape. Apply a dot of hot glue between the connecting ends to hold. Repeat with the remaining feathers.
Turn the arrow with the right side facing up. Apply a dot of hot glue to the point on the back of one chevron. Place the chevron (feather) over the end of the arrow shaft. Repeat with the remaining feathers, spacing them approximately 1″ apart above the first.
Permanently secure the arrowhead and the feathers. You can use wood screws, nails or staples, depending on the wood type of your frame and shaft. Turn the arrow with the back facing up. Secure on both sides of the point on the arrowhead and feathers.
Tips: Staples and nails tend to bend when using them on really hard wood. Test on scrap pieces of your frame and scraps of the 1×2. Screws and nails can split the wood. Drill pilot holes to eliminate this problem.
Optional: You may choose to keep your arrow’s original finish, if not, decide on a finish and apply at this time. Note: The example was finished using oil-rubbed bronze spray paint that was then lightly sanded.
Attach sawtooth hangers. Before attaching the hangers, first determine if your arrow will be hung vertical or horizontal. If vertical, will it be pointing up or down? If horizontal, will it be pointing right or left? For vertical, attach one sawtooth hanger to the back of the shaft end at the top or bottom. For horizontal, attach a hanger on each end of the shaft, making sure the teeth of the hangers are facing the right way for hanging the arrow in your desired right or left direction.
Options, Tips and Ideas
While it is possible to find a frame exactly like the one used in this example, it is not necessary. A successful outcome can be achieved with wood frames of various designs by altering and adjusting these instructions.
- Wider frame sides are a possibility, but narrower sides will require the most adjustments to the instructions. Consider cutting a smaller arrowhead and using a thinner shaft. Lengthen or shorten the shaft, as desired. The feathers will each need to be cut at more than the instructed 1 1/4″ between cuts. This will give the feathers more length.
- Household cement, such as E-6000, or wood glue can be substituted for screws, nails or staples. To hold the arrow parts in place while drying, using hot glue with alternative adhesives is recommended.
- Dowels, frame sides or pallet wood scraps are optional ideas for arrow shafts.
- These arrows are beautiful art accents, but you can also give them a functional purpose. Add hooks to the shaft to create a coat, jewelry or scarf rack. Attach brackets to the back and use as a towel or blanket rack.
No frame? No worries. Use scrap wood and miter cut your own arrowhead and create it in the same way as the feathers. The feathers can still be cut as instructed.