I found this fabulous grain sack in an antique store and had always wanted to frame one. I loved the simple graphics and texture of this particular one so I decided to give it a try using some barn wood I salvaged from an 1800s barn.
I found my flattest piece of barn wood (always the challenge with using reclaimed wood) and wanted my frame to be thinner, so I cut this wood longways in half, using my Dewalt table saw.
This grain sack has a lot of “blank space” and because I ship most of my products, I chose a length based on my available boxes. (there’s nothing worse than creating an amazing piece and then realizing you have no way of shipping it!) I had a few thin, narrow 30″ boxes, so I chose a length of 28″ for this piece.
I suggest measuring out your length/width with the sack edge just starting to touch the inside edge of the wood pieces. Because at the end, your have to stretch the sack and attach with tacks, and your sack will end up attaching towards the middle/outside edges. If you measure to the outside edge at the beginning, then you will end up having to fold/cut to fit. **Don’t cut the sack until the end when you know you absolutely have to!**
Although I love the rustic look of the wood, it as pretty rough and splintery. I wanted a rustic but polished look, so I sanded some of the roughness off so the true grain of the wood could shine through.
I started with a 40 grit sandpaper, and to create a smoother finish, I used gradually finer grits up to 400.
SIDE NOTE – Although most people will use the above method, I recently also tried out my Dewalt planer for another barn wood frame project! It allowed me to skip the longer, harder “elbow grease” step of sanding and gave me and even smoother finish!
It takes several passes like this to achieve the above look, but super easy and less work and time to sand!
BACK TO TO MY PROJECT!
I laid out the pieces at the positions where I wanted to attach. I drew lines on the back so I would know where to pre-drill my holes.
I attached the 2 horizontal pieces to a vertical piece first. I screwed in from the back so you cannot see any screws in the front. Then I moved the horizontal pieces around until they were straight with the second vertical piece and clamped them in place while I screwed them in.
To be honest, barn wood is tricky to attach perfectly square since the edges are not perfectly straight. I had a square tool, but that only really works when the pieces you are working with have straight edges. So a lot of this part was honestly just eyeballing it! Clamp it in place, eyeball it, make adjustments etc.
After screwing into the 4 corners, I still felt my frame was still a little wiggly, so I also used right angle brackets at each corner.
Since my pieces are crossed with one being in front of the other, I needed additional horizontal cross bars on the back so my grain sack had more to attach to than just the vertical sides. I cut out the horizontal pieces and put them in between the 2 vertical bars. I decided to not cover up my right angles since then the wood would not be flush against the other piece of wood.
Next, I stained and lacquered the frame. (Make sure to wear your mask!)
Time to attach the sack! Depending on size of your frame and type of material, you may have to cut the sack. Folding over lots of material does not always work well with the upholstery tacks. I find cloth sacks require less cutting as they fold best, but burlap and jute are difficult to fold into a low profile.
Using the clamps again is helpful in this step. There is some trial and error as you clamp the sack on and then check the front to make sure you have it positioned the way you want.
Stretch the sack taut as you are attaching the upholstery tacks with the hammer. You will have to keep checking to make sure you are positioned right and that the sack is not sagging in places and may have to reposition your tacks. They come up pretty easily using a flat head screw driver.
Also, don’t forget all about the wall hooks like I did! Those are installed best BEFORE you attach the sack. Luckily the corner tacks came up easily, I installed the hooks and put it back.
During this process, I also discovered that vintage window frames are another great idea for these sacks! The key is finding a frame that fits the graphic of the sack, but as long as you are ok with not sticking with the exact size of the sack, this idea also works!
Depending on the condition of the frame, this way is not necessarily less labor intensive than the barn wood frame. Often these frames need the glass removed, nails and other sharp objects removed, scraped, sanded, painted… in this case my frame was perfect in its current chippy condition and only needed a good cleaning and several coats of clear lacquer. But I have other frames in my shop that need lots of work!
You can buy this amazing vintage wall art, available now in my shop!
This barn wood framed sack is also available now in my shop!