diy project: kate’s wooden portrait

i know there are lots of silhouette projects out there these days, but i thought i could add one more to the mix. this portrait is made of super thin balsa wood that you can cut like paper, and the frame is made from decorative molding. the molding comes untreated in different widths and patterns and cuts very easily, so you could actually use this method to make your own custom frames for things too if you wanted! click here for the full post and step-by-step instructions- happy crafting! -kate

[ps: lisa’s second guest blog post for today is now live!]

Kate’s Wooden Portrait

What You’ll Need:

1. thin balsa wood sheet (available at craft stores, i used a 6″ x 36″ sheet)
2. silhouette
3. scissors
4. different shades of wood stain
5. foam brushes for stain
6. decorative molding (available at hardware stores like home depot. comes in 8′ length)
7. wood glue
8. mitre box and saw
9. measuring tape


1. Decide the dimensions of your frame. Unless you can find a bigger sheet of balsa wood, one dimension should be a little less than 6″ so you can fit the balsa wood in the frame. I made mine 6″ x 8″

2. Mark the measurements on the back of the decorative wood, adding twice the width of your molding to each side’s measurement so you can angle the sides and they will be the right dimensions.

3. Cut each piece on your mitre box.

4. Once you have all four sides, use the 45 degree angle to cut two opposing angle on each end of each side so they will fit together.

5. Use the wood glue to glue all sides together. Tape and let dry overnight.

6. Print your silhouette and blow up to the desired size. Cut out silhouette.

7. Trace silhouette onto the balsa sheet and carefully cut it out.

8. Measure and cut out the background rectangle for your silhouette.

9. Stain everything. You will want to use a darker stain for the silhouette than the background. Let dry.

10. Glue your silhouette to the center of the rectangle.

11. Glue the piece into the back of the frame.



great idea kate! this would be such a nice little wedding gift to have a silhouette of the happy couple & make it for them. i also love that you use a cute bowl to toss your keys into. is that white bike ceramics? cute!


ok, but how exactly do you make the frame? I’m confused. Maybe I don’t understand too well.

David Poe

I have seen something like this before, where someone used a stencil to stain a piece of wood; I like this better because of the possibility of having a different grain of wood, or something more interesting as the silhouette. This leaves a lof of room for creativity. I like it!


I like this so much better than a reular silhouette stenciled onto paper and then framed. This has a lot of texture and dimension. Great idea!

Lynette Andreasen

wow…I am doing a comission for something like this right now, and this is so smart…one of those things you really wish you would have thought of first! Its awesome!

Peter Shekel

Great idea. I once saw a talented guy who made potraits from iron, but this wooden portrait is more practical and available for everyone.

carol pulitzer

There’s a beautiful book by Beth Wagner Brust called The Amazing Paper Cuttings of hans Christian Andersen you all might enjoy. I actually licensed one of his designs from the museum in Denmark for some of my products.