two guitars hanging in diy guitar display frames

DIY Guitar Display Frame

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Show off your ax with a DIY Guitar Display Frame! It’s a cheap and easy way to make your guitars the focal point of any wall!

When I was a younger version of myself, I played guitar in a rock and roll band. Throughout high school and college, my guitar was rarely far from my side. Music was the most important thing in my life – far more compelling than school, and a hell of a lot easier to master than flirting with girls.

There was a time in college when I thought about pursuing music as a career. I thought about trying to make it as a guitar man in a rock and roll band.

Where would I go?


Can you imagine?

But time passed, and I left the comfortable dreamspace of college and ventured into the Real World. Soon, the obligations of adulthood intruded upon the brittle dreams of my youth and shattered them into faded fragments of memory – forgone but not entirely forgotten.

Though I never plugged into an amplifier and played a wailing guitar solo to a cheering crowd again, I still kept a couple of guitars on hand that I reached out for from time to time, if only to remember those youthful days in dark and smoky places.

When we moved to the States in 2013, I thought it would be a perfect time to pass the torch to Barish. Handan and I went to a music shop, and we bought the boy a small-sized acoustic guitar. I taught him a couple of chords but soon realized that he’d be better served with a teacher who wasn’t also a family member.

He flourished.

I never would have thought he’d get as good as he did as quickly as he did. And he could do at age 9 what I’d never been able to do – play guitar and sing!

Starting him on guitar was one of my first proud-father moments.

father and son playing guitar
Barish and me playing together on my parents’ patio in 2013

I’d only been living with him for a little over a year, and I hadn’t really had the chance to pass on any of my knowledge (well, except for getting him to read books in Vietnam). A biological father has the kid’s whole life to pass on knowledge, and I’ve no doubt much of that is inherited knowledge through genes. Whatever I had to give Barish would have to be taught.

I was in awe that this kid could could play and sing – for me that was the Holy Grail I never found – and I was hopeful for his journey with the instrument and his voice.

But time charts its own course for each of us, and Barish’s path has led him away from the guitar these past couple of years. He spends his time with schoolwork and kung fu and programming robots for the school’s robotics team. When he has free time, he’d rather spend it as most of his peers do: gaming online.

Though I’m sad he didn’t take to the instrument like I did, Handan and I still have hope that Barish will pick up the guitar again, and maybe this time approach it with an older and more mature mindset.

To help realize our dream for him, Handan wanted one of his walls to showcase his two guitars. We gave him an electric guitar several years ago, and I took the big step in handing down my prized acoustic (pictured in my arms above) in the hopes that such a majestic instrument would help hold his interest. Our hope is that having those instruments staring at him from two DIY guitar display frames on the most prominent wall in his room will spur him to reach out, pull one off the wall from time to time and start rediscovering both the instrument and his long-dormant voice.

two diy guitar display frames hanging on a wall

Guilt can be a great motivator, LOL! 🙂

Let’s have a look at how I made these guitar display frames.


DIY Guitar Display Frame

I first cut two identical pieces of 1/4 inch plywood that were longer and wider than either guitar. Handan and I just eyeballed it and settled on a size that we thought would look good with both guitars. We then centered each guitar on its piece of plywood. The guitars would hang from wall-mounted guitar hangers, and my next step was to mark their locations on the plywood.

rafter square, ruler, pencil and guitar hanger on a piece of plywood

I would later be gluing a mounting block to that rectangle, so I masked it off with blue painter’s tape and then handed the two pieces of plywood to Handan for painting. We wanted the backs to be the same color as Barish’s walls, so she painted them with Behr “Bit of Sugar.”

To bring color to the guitar display frames, we decided to use the same stencil we used for Barish’s accent wall. It would complement the accent wall and bring continuity to the room.

wall stencil taped to plywood

Handan used a small roller to apply paint to the stencil.

applying paint to a wall stencil
Handan’s Ongoing Pajama Counter: 32

Once the stencil had dried, we peeled away the masking tape.

peeling masking tape from a painted surface

This was where I’d be installing the mounting block for the guitar hanger.

painted piece of plywood with stencil

To make the mounting block more secure, I wanted to use screws in addition to the glue, so I drilled 4 pilot holes for the screws.

drill making holes in a piece of plywood

I cut two pieces of scrap 3/4 inch plywood to serve as mounting blocks. I put glue on one side and then lined the block up with the bare plywood.

block of wood with glue on it
piece of wood sitting on painted plywood

Once the glue had set, I carefully flipped the frame backing over and secured the block with 4 screws installed from the back.

With the backings finished, I put them aside to start work on the frames. I used simple 2 x 4 lumber for the frames. They’d give a solid look to the guitar display frames.

Handan wanted to take some pictures of me cutting the wood to size. She got a little more than she bargained for. I hadn’t noticed that the dust collection hose had disconnected from the saw. Sawdust shot out the pipe towards her and then engulfed her in a chocking cloud.

man cutting wood on a miter saw
man cutting wood on a miter saw

Oops. I wondered why she was running away, lol!

Things went more smoothly once I re-connected the dust collector!

man cutting wood on a miter saw

After cutting the lumber to size, I mitered the corners. I know it looks like I’m about to lop off my fingers, but I assure you they were safe! 🙂

man cutting lumber on a miter saw

Here’s all the cut and mitered lumber. That finger in the picture is not a mistake. I was blocking out another project on the table that I hadn’t published yet. I wasn’t sure which I’d be posting first, so the finger was a precaution to keep the secret!

cut lumber on a table

Before gluing and nailing the frame together, I routed a 1/2 inch recess into the inner back side of the boards. This is where the frame backing would be mounted.

man running a board through a router
closeup of routed board

Building the frame was straightforward – a little glue and some brad nails were all it took.

man braid nailing a frame

Except for that one stubborn corner…

Home Depot lumber is rarely perfectly straight, so of course one stupid corner (actually two stupid corners – one on each frame) didn’t align perfectly. Now, I could have forced them into alignment and nailed them, but that would have warped the frame. The better solution was to accept the gap…and then fill it!

I masked off the gap…

blue tape on the corner of a frame

And then I mixed up a batch of my homemade stainable wood filler (my favorite wood filler is Bondo, but it is not suitable for a piece that will be stained). I gathered up some sawdust from the collection bag of one of my random orbit sanders and mixed it with shellac until I had a nice paste.

mixing diy wood filler in a cup

You can see more on the process of making the wood filler in my farmhouse dining table post.

I squished the wood filler into the gap…

applying wood filer to a gap in a wooden frame

..until I had it filled and level.

wood filler in a gap in a wooden frame
Handan’s Ongoing Pajama Counter: 33

Before the wood filler dried, I peeled off the blue tape and then let it dry.

peeling tape from the corner of a wooden frame

I then sanded the corners and the whole frame with 150 grit using a random orbit sander.

man sanding a guitar display frame

After cleaning off the sanding dust, I applied a coat of Varathane Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, and then I stained the frames with Minwax Special Walnut.

When the stain had dried, I applied two coats of Greg’s Wonder Finish – an equal mix of satin spar urethane, boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits.

Mason Jar of Greg's Wonder Finish

After the finish was dry, I turned the frames over and installed the backing boards with brad nails.

man using a brad nailer to install a frame backing

Handan and I flipped the DIY guitar display frames back so I could attach the guitar hangers.

man attaching guitar hanger to guitar display frame
Madam, those are not sausages – they are my fingers.

Our guitar display frames were done! We carried them upstairs to Barish’s room for installation. I drove three level screws into the wall on which each frame would hang. To keep them from getting bumped or jostled off the wall, we also installed Command Strips to the sides. The best way to stick Command Strips to wood is first to put a strip of heavy-duty duct tape on the wood. Duct tape is strong and sticky enough to stick to any wood, and the Command Strips stick much better to the tape than they do to wood.

putting duct tape on the back of a frame
Handan’s Ongoing Pajama Counter: 34
pressing a command strip to the back of a frame

I hung the guitar display frames with the help of a torpedo level.

man hanging diy guitar display frame
man hanging diy guitar display frame

The moment of truth!

man hanging diy guitar display frame

And it worked! The guitar stayed in the frame, and the frame stayed on the wall!

We hung the next frame, and Barish’s DIY Guitar Display Frames were installed and ready to start producing some glorious guitar guilt! 😀

DIY Guitar Display Frame
DIY Guitar Display Frame
DIY Guitar Display Frame
DIY Guitar Display Frame
DIY Guitar Display Frame

If you’re following along with the teen bedroom makeover, here’s how we stand:

Teen Bedroom Makeover Checklist (for The First Room)

Click here to see more teen bedroom makeover posts as we continue to cross items off our checklist!

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  1. Who needs to know how to flirt when you play guitar?! Girls love musicians! If the guilt thing doesn’t work maybe the lure of groupies will! Lol! I like that you continued the stencil, the frames look great.
    P.S. Handan, your pjs are adorable! I live in mine too! ?

    1. Hahahaha – thank you so much, Giselle! Oh I can’t live without my pjs! Put it this way: I have more pjs than jeans and shorts combined LOL.

  2. Very Well Done. Looks soo Rad! Love the display of Plectrums. 🙂
    I still have my 1st electric Guitar too. Love the Giraffe nice bit of Africa displayed there…


  3. That is the ultimate! Well done display with step by step instructions! Make sure when you open the door that it doesn’t hit the guitar ?

  4. Well done. The blue color of that electric guitar is so cool. I love that blue.

    As for that sawdust cloud, my hubby did the same thing to me with the snow blower once when he didn’t realize I was standing nearby and the snow chute was facing towards me. Mini blizzard all around me as I clearing the back of my SUV. Fun times.

    1. LOL, oh man, that could have hurt if the snow was heavy – those things are powerful! Yeah, we love that blue, too…especially Handan! She was there when we bought the guitar, and she heavily favored that particular one! 🙂

  5. I always wished my parents had gotten me an instrument and lessons that was cool. …I learned the trumpet. Not cool. I’m also terrible at it so I didn’t even get anywhere close to the high lofty goals of a being a jazz musician. The one cool way you can play a trumpet.

    Hopefully Barish will get to college and realise that girls really dig musicians and he will ring and ask if you’ve still got his old guitars. And they will still be hanging on these great displays, just waiting for him to pick them up over Christmas break!

    Great looking, as always. Love the way you’ve used the same pattern from the wall on the backboard. It’s subtle so it’s not taking away from the instruments themselves but funky enough to stand out. Do kids still say that? Funky?

    1. You are right about the trumpet – the only avenue to Cool Town runs right down Jazz Ave. My nephew plays, and he’s in a jazz band, so he gets a pass, lol! Yeah, someday, I’m hoping Barish will see that the guitar is a gateway to many great things. I’m also willing to teach him how to DJ – another magical art that I learned and went semi-pro with for a time in San Francisco. He seems to like electronic music, so we’ll see! 🙂

  6. Oh man! These are awesome. I’m definitely adding this to my project list. I love the Command Strip idea for mounting too. Have you had success with them on textured walls? I can’t tell if your walls are smooth or textured in the picture. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Krissy! We’ve had success with those Command Strips on all of our walls. They are only mildly textured from the paint rollers we used (3/8 inch nap) when painting.

  7. You know, you could have just said the finger was there as proof that you didn’t lop it off…we would have bought that! ?
    Great project once again!

  8. Great project as usual! I love how you speak of your son (no “steps”). He’s a lucky young man. And also, I love Handan’s pj’s. If only I could come to work like that.

    1. Thank you, Lori! Yep, he’s my straight-up “son!” 🙂 Now, about those pajamas – I’m sure Woodcraft wouldn’t mind if you strolled in one day wearing them, lol! 😀

  9. With all of your cool tools, maybe you could make another guitar display frame for the guitar you make from scratch??! Wouldn’t that be a cool road to go down…and you would have enough guitars that each of you would have your own family band. Love the frames and the guitars look fabulous in there. Much better than my guitar looks hanging on the wall from the strap.

  10. You guys this is a wonderful way to get the guitar off the floor and make it shine on the wall. My son has a few that are hiding out. Maybe I can try this and surprise him!