Secret Santa Photo Frames

This project grew a bit from what I originally intended. My Secret Santa giftee is in to Photography so I wanted to make a simple frame that she could display some of her photos in. Then I thought that a single photo is limiting so why not do a tri-fold frame, but then I have to make them square since I didn’t want to force either landscape or portrait.

So after a few days tossing around design ideas, starting on paper, then to Sketchup then ditching that for Fusion 360 I came up with this design.

Just moved, no nails in the walls yet, but it can be hung as well.

The Acrylic is held in place with embedded magnets, which will hold the photos in place.

There are a few mounting options and the leather strap hinges can be removed so the frames can be re-positioned or used independently.

The hinge slots are on all sides and set so offset arraignments can be done.

My prototype panel alongside all the components for the other two panels.
Tip: Leave the masking on until you absolutely have to take it off, keeps everything clean, especially embedding magnets with super-glue into acrylic.

I made a little square to help line things up for assembly, huge time-saver!

Bonus, I cut out her name to put on the gift box and it slides right into the groove on the frame for a modular decoration.

I learned a lot working on this project, 1st time dialing in kerf and offset paths, Fusion 360 was invaluable for that. That feeling when you get the kerf perfect and something snaps in place and you are thinking “Glue?! Who needs Glue?!” :joy:

This was made with:

  • Proofgrade Medium Maple Plywood

  • Proofgrade Medium Clear Acrylic

  • Proofgrade Medium Draftboard (for middle layer)

  • Craft Store Leather

  • 6mm x 3mm Neodymium Magnets


Super job. thanks for sharing

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That frame is awesome. I really like the engineering work and the result is beautiful.


Jeez! You did put some serious design engineering into that frame! I love the idea of the embedded magnets.

Great job! :smile:


Great gift and a fantastic project to learn how it all comes together. Love the different options you built into it!


Like it! Well done.


I think your giftee really hit the jackpot this year. Thanks for sharing!


The magnets are an eloquent solution! Nice work. :sunglasses:

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That’s a very elegant frame and I really love the acrylic and magnet idea. It’s lovely! Lucky recipient!

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I like the puzzle-piece type joint you used to hold the miter together. I also love that you made it configurable by the recipient. Michelle is going to really like this!

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So sleek and versatile. Make sure to show Michelle these pictures so she can grasp what an awesome gift she’s receiving! :slight_smile:

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What a great idea! The receiver of the frames should be thrilled!

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Thanks all, this is such a great community!

I tend to think things to death, always trying to balance the form vs. function equation. This one definitely went minimalist where every feature has a specific function but there is an art form in that as well I guess. Mainly I didn’t want the frame to detract from what was being displayed in it.
The magnets were also because of function. I wanted her to be able to quickly put in her new favorite photo/s, so this wouldn’t become a static display piece. All you have to do is lay it flat, slide the acrylic off and swap photos.

She really loved it and was showing it off to everyone in the office. I asked her if she could send me a picture once she has it in use. Now everyone wants me to make them something.

I kinda stole that design from one of the picture frames in the catalog. I was going with a different joint but when I saw that one I liked it better, and it is really secure. When I snap fit it together the whole back felt like one piece. I actually didn’t even glue it, there is glue between the layers and I felt that some would seep into the joint to secure it, so it would probably be adequate for this application.

She was very interested in the process, I did show her the photos. She couldn’t believe at first that it was something someone could just make at home, thinking I went way over budget and bought it from some boutique store. The proofgrade materials are a big factor in that finished look with minimal effort.