How to make a Lath Art Painting

Step by Step procedure for making Authentic Wood Lath Art.

You can enlarge the

First Project Preview - Original Pattern

by clicking on either of the pictures so that you can better see the lath direction lines.

You can buy the lath wood strips, (the suggested sizes are in this guide), or you can rip them yourself from a 2 by 4. I can usually make a large painting using one 2 by 4.

The Guide

1. Making the lath sheet
About 30 to 36 strips of lath (1/4" x 1 1/2" x 24") are required. These are glued (white glue is fine) to a single long sheet of kraft paper leaving a small, just noticeable, gap between each piece. Dry-bond glue sheets are even more convenient. For this method the lath is laid in place (good side down) with the dry glue sheet covering it and the kraft paper over that. Then ironed on with an old iron.

2. Cut apart the pattern
Each 'Primary' piece of the pattern is cut out for marking on the lath sheet. 'Secondary' pieces are pieces that lie within certain primary pieces and are cut apart and marked on the lath sheet the after all the primary pieces have been marked. These appear as dotted lines on the pattern.

3. Marking the pieces on the wood
'Primary' pieces are positioned on the lath sheet and 'oriented' so the black arrows line up with a given crack between the lath. This ensures the lath lines of the wood will run in the correct direction for each separate picture piece.

4. Saw out the pieces
All the primary pieces are cut out on the scroll saw or band saw. Try to stay right on the 'inside' edge of the pencil line. Then those pattern pieces which contain 'secondary' pieces are cut apart and the secondary line is marked the previously cut primary piece. This completes the scroll-saw work.

5. Final fitting of pieces
The picture pieces are put in place on the assembly pattern (2nd copy) to check for fit. Some trimming is usually required on a few pieces, but a little trimming goes a long way. Lathart pictures tend to look even better without perfectly flush joinings. In fact I have always created gaps in certain places if the sawing produced too few on its own. The darker line produced with a slightly bigger gap can produce an attractive emphasis.

6. Painting or staining
Lathart looks best when lots of blonde wood shows through the paint or stain, so we suggest you always use thinned out paints which you paint on and wipe thoroughly off. Ordinary Craft or Tole paints (available in all craft stores - eg: Delta brand) work very well. Each pattern pack comes with Delta color names/numbers and a basic blending guide for getting the color right. But you may want to create your own look, perhaps with deck stains, or other paints. you have around. The 8 frame pieces (3/8" x 1 1/2" x 'X') are done the same way.

7. Final picture assembly
The painted pieces are glued on to the assembly pattern first (spot glue them), then that is in turn glued on to a backer-board (1/2" particle board is fine). Then the frame is nailed in place. (More info on framing is included below)

8. Framing

The backer-board is cut bigger than the picture to exactly accommodate the inner frame pieces which lay flat and are nailed to the backer-board (backer and inner frame pieces must be flush). Then the 4 piece outer frame is fitted (like the inner frame do the top and bottom first, then the sides) and nailed to the side of the backer-board. A 1/4" 'lip' is created by the edge of the outer frame extending higher than the inner frame.

Note how the top and bottom pieces of both the inner frame and the outer frame extend out to the edge, with the side pieces of both inner and outer frames abutting the top and bottom components.

The outer frame is nailed with 1 1/4" finishing nails, aimed toward the backer-board, plus 2 or 3 extra nails set into the adjoining outer frame pieces at each corner. This gives additional support when handling the picture.

Both Chris and Rod have photos of the steps they use to create their LathArt on their websites. Be sure to check them out under Other LathArt and Woodscraft Sites