DIYdiy projectsmatt pierce

diy project: vintage belt frame

by Matt

I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of wayward western belts at vintage shops and thrift stores. Judging that most seem to be recent (early 80s) vintage, we can probably thank Kenny and Dolly for their previous popularity. So, what to do with this surplus if you’re not ready to reenact the look of Urban Cowboy? Why not find one to repurpose into a vintage styled picture frame? I know you’ve got an old pic of Grandpa that would work perfectly. — Matt

*This post was brought to you by Home Depot

See the full how-to after the jump!

It’s pretty simple. More or less just cutting mitered edges in the belt material to fit your frame size, and you could even just glue the pieces to the outside of an existing frame. I like the idea of how so many vintage frames were hand-built, so I’ll show you how to make one from scratch.


  • vintage western belt
  • wood panel and trim stock
  • plexiglass piece
  • glue



  • saw
  • rotary knife
  • ruler
  • awl
  • thread and needle



1. Start by figuring out what size your frame will be. The belt edge of the frame must be small enough to hold your picture and glass in, and also realize that the overall frame size will then add the width of the belt to itself. My picture is a 3 1/2 x 5, so I cut my belt pieces so the inside edge is about a 1/2 smaller on each dimension.

2. After your belt pieces are cut, we can build the back frame. Measure your belt pieces’ outer dimensions and let’s cut a panel to that size. Then, we can cut some spacer pieces to glue onto the panel to hold our leather pieces off the panel enough to fit our picture and glass.

3. Glue the frame back together, leaving a top open so you can replace the picture in the frame. Once the glue dries, you can slide your picture and plexiglass into it. Depending on the space, you could add some packing to keep the picture flat.

4. Hang it up and brag to your friends about how large the fish was that Pop caught that day.

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  • Dang, that’s one heckuva good idea; the finished product looks amazing! I was curious how you were going to build the actual frame… your approach is simple, elegant and effective. Yee Haw!

  • This is pretty awesome! Definitely a great way to integrate any belt (ever had one where the holes have ripped out?) into an awesome project!

  • I still have my old seed-beaded belt that also spells out COLORADO on the back. Never use it but just can’t toss it. Now I have an idea of what to do. Maybe use the idea but on something besides a frame, but do love this idea too. And think of all those nonwestern belts at the second-hand shops with all kinds of decorated belts :-) (I need a sign that portrays “The Thinker” LOL!)

  • I love this project! I made three frames following the instructions. Here are a few tips: I used a protractor to get 45% angle cuts in the belt. I cut the belt first to get the frame dimensions and then using those dimensions I cut the wood. I used 1/8″ thick birch plywood, purchased at an art store for the frame back and spacers. I don’t have an electric saw, so using the thin birch wood allowed me to cut it with an exacto knife first for the line, then a box knife to cut through the wood. The spacers have to be 1/2″ or so narrower than the belt so the belt will hold the glass and photo in place. I used Barge cement to glue the leather to the spacers. Rather than using plexiglass, I used glass from cheap photo frames. They came out perfectly!

  • Did this with an old and rather scratched up tooled belt. Glued the pieces to an old frame with E6000 and when dry hit it with silver Rub-n-Buff. It now hangs around a thermostat in my guest room. So much better to have that ugly plastic thing camouflaged with a great frame.

  • This is a Brillient Idea. I’m lazy, i think i’ll just snazzy up some of my frames that are already built; that way i won’t mess up the frame. Just 1 concern i have; when U listed materials, U didn’t say what kind of glue to use. There R so many kinds of glue.

  • Wonderful idea. I have a belt from my Dad who passed away in 1995. Now I know what to do with his belt for family members. Also, you didn’t mention the glue you used. Thank you for your great idea.