Build A Picture Frame That Turns Into A Table

  • Build A Picture Frame That Turns Into A Table

Works of art are usually more decorative than functional, but this picture doubles as a practical piece of furniture.

The top of the frame can be unclipped from the wall and drops down to provide a useful work surface, with the long stiles of the frame acting as legs for the table.

When not needed it folds up out of the way, saving valuable floorspace.

In its upright position, the top of the frame is at 1750mm from the floor, an optimal viewing height. When folded down, the 1000 x 600mm tabletop is a comfortable 750mm high.

Dual-purpose design

The tabletop is made from 16mm MDF while 90 x 19mm maple is used for the frame rails and stiles. After the frame is assembled it is cut into two sections, with the 250mm short stiles secured to the underside of the tabletop.

The 750mm long stiles are hinged to the front edge of the tabletop, and swing down to become the table legs.

Finish the table in three coats of black satin paint for a dramatic look.

To glaze the picture, cut a piece of transparent acrylic and slot it into the rebates of the short stiles. 

Drill two countersunk clearance holes 15mm in from the top corners and secure the top edge with screws. 

TIP For safety, attach a desk stay to each leg and childproof cupboard catches at the top to hold the frame. 

picture frame, handyman magazine,
When not in use, the table tucks away as a decorative wall hanging.

Using dowels 

Dowels are short, grooved lengths of timber with a circular profile.

Dowels are used to join pieces of timber together edge to edge, creating a stronger joint than one secured with adhesive alone.

The grooves allow air to escape as they are driven in.

To improve precision when drilling holes for dowels, use a brad-point bit and clamp a dowelling jig to the workpiece. 

Mark matching hole positions in the second workpiece using dowel centres for a perfect fit.


Use PVA adhesive and 50 x 8mm dowels to assemble the frame. 

Attach the piano hinges and the top of the acrylic with 12mm x 6g timber screws.

Secure the bearer and the catches to the wall studs using 50mm x 8g timber screws.

Step 1. Cut the tabletop

Clamp the sheet of MDF to a pair of sawhorses then use a circular saw and straightedge guide to cut the tabletop. Clamp the piano hinge in a vice and use a hacksaw to cut it into two 600mm lengths then clean up the cut edges with a file.

Step 2. Prepare the frame

Use a mitresaw to cut the framing pieces to length. Square a line across the ends and face of the rails 20mm
in from each edge then drill holes for 8mm dowels to 28mm deep using a dowelling jig for accuracy. Mark and drill corresponding holes in the stiles

Step 3. Assemble the frame

Sand the framing pieces with 180 grit abrasive paper, apply adhesive in the holes and on the end grain of the rails then insert the dowels. Assemble the frame and apply pressure to the joints with sash clamps. Remove excess adhesive and check the frame is square

Step 4. Attach the legs

Rout a 3 x 3mm rebate around the inside of the frame using a straight cutting bit, square up the corners with a chisel then cut the frame into 750mm and 250mm parts. Align the leg frame flush with the tabletop, drill 1.5mm pilot holes and attach the hinge.

Step 5. Mount the bearer

Attach the remaining frame section to the underside of the tabletop using adhesive. On the wall, mark a level line 750mm from the floor, then use a stud finder to mark the stud locations. Drill pilot holes and secure the bearer with screws.

Step 6. Secure the tabletop

Attach the second piano hinge to the edge of the tabletop and the inside face of the bearer. Secure desk stays to the legs, fold the table into its upright position then mark the location for hook catches to hold it against the wall, securing them to the studs.

Click on the diagram

Click on the diagram to see what measurements are needed to create this picture frame that turns into a table. 

Click on the cutting list

Click on the cutting list to see what materials, and in what sizes, are needed for this project.

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