Looking for a fun handmade Christmas present? How about creating a DIY custom slip on frame for a smart digital picture frame? It can also be easily converted into a regular DIY picture frame with a secret compartment! Check out this video to see how a Cricut Maker machine works and how easy it is to create personalized Christmas (or anytime) gifts for your loved ones.
Or if you prefer reading and seeing pictures, I’ve added the entire episode transcript below (with some modifications for clarity) along with some images to highlight the main steps.
I’m giving my mom a smart digital picture frame for Christmas this year. I decided to personalize it with a custom frame so that it matches my mom’s style and decor. I’m going to show you how to make it and also how the same idea can be used to make a regular picture frame with a fun secret compartment. You’ll see they’re easier to make than you think.
Before I begin, I want to say a special thank you to Cricut for sponsoring this video and giving me the tools to make my ideas come to life.
I wasn’t sure if my concept for this slip on frame would work. So, I made a prototype first with cardboard to work out all the kinks and get all the dimensions figured out. I needed a material that was rigid yet thin to build the structure. I chose a heavy chipboard to make it. You can also cut this material with an exacto knife which is great, but this project requires a lot of precisely cut components.
So I was really happy to have my Cricut maker machine to do all the cutting for me. Receiving my Cricut maker machine for the first time was a real game changer for me. It gave me the freedom to dream up all kinds of DIY projects and gifts like this one, and know that I now have a machine that can help me make all of it.
The Cricut Design Space software really makes it easy to create all the components that I needed and everything can be saved so I can easily recreate this project later if I want to. Chipboard is only one of hundreds of materials that you can cut with the Cricut maker. It can handle the most delicate of paper to fabric to even thick leather. Depending on which material you’re cutting, you just change out the tools that you need, which is really quick and easy to do. Since this was my first time using the knife blade, I had to calibrate it before starting to cut. This machine prompts you on how to do this, it’s very straightforward. Because the star wheels can mark the chipboard, I push them all to the side before starting to cut, I use a strong grip mat and put masking tape all around the edges of the material to make sure that it stays in place. It’s so much fun to watch the Cricut maker do its thing. It works by making several passes over the cut line, which takes a few minutes and then when it’s all done, all the pieces come off and you have a perfectly cut frame.
I repeated this process for the other components of the frame structure and then I moved on to cutting the wood veneer. The idea is to use this veneer to cover all the chipboard so that this frame looks like it’s made out of solid wood.
For this material, I put back the star wheels and switch to the deep point blade. Cutting thin wood veneer like this can be tricky to do without damaging the material but the Cricut maker cut everything perfectly in just a few minutes.
I started the assembly process by first gluing the spacer to the back with white glue. It’s important to apply even pressure so that the chipboard glues evenly everywhere and stays flat. The more clamps you have for this the better. Then I glued ¾” wood dowels around the perimeter of the front piece.
The bottom dowel is a few millimeters higher than the edge and that’s so that the digital frame can sit centered in the opening. Then I glued the back piece and finally I glued all the veneer.
That was by far the trickiest part of this assembly because the veneer has a tendency to curl up with glue on it. Again, I had to apply a lot of pressure to make sure that it all adhered evenly everywhere.
The combination of the wood dowels and the spacer make the perfect width for the frame to slide in, without flopping around once it’s inside. Happy with how this was working out, I moved on to covering up the sides with strips of chipboard covered with veneer. masking tape here served as improvised clamps while the glue dried. The last step was sanding and then adding a few coats of matte polyurethane.
Now this digital picture frame is ready for its upgrade. This sleeve instantly makes this more elegant and substantial looking and keeping the back open allows for all the heat to dissipate and also gives access to the power cord connection.
I thought that this design would also make a great analog frame with a secret compartment. I built it essentially the same way that I built the other frame except that I added a pocket to the front to hold the picture and protective piece of glass.
When the removable top is on it looks like any normal frame.
But it’s easy to take off and then stash some money, jewelry or whatever other small items you want to keep a secret.
I’ll put a link to the details on how to make this particular version in the description below, along with all the links of the materials that I use for the digital frame and the Cricut maker machine.
Cricut Materials, Tools and Digital Frame:
I’m tempted to keep one of these frames, they look so good, but I think my mom will enjoy both versions so they’re both heading her way for Christmas. Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this video and a huge thank you again to Cricut for supporting this channel, and for giving me the tools to make my wildest DIY dreams come true. I think it would make such a wonderful Christmas gift for any DIYer or crafter out there.