How to Build Abstract Wall Art

You can build this modern wall art project for a fraction of the cost of buying a piece this large. And you can customize it to fit any space or color scheme.

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Introduction

We needed wall art for the office, and this project fit the bill perfectly: It looks really cool, it’s inexpensive, and it’s easy to build. It’s made of 2x4s cut into triangles and glued in a pattern to a sheet of plywood. The final size of our project was 4 x 12 ft. (we joined two sheets of plywood with glue and pocket-hole screws), but you can make it any size–and any combination of colors–you want. The only challenge is keeping the triangles straight and square. If I made another one, I would lay out a grid pattern on the plywood to help align the pieces. If you own a planer, plane the boards to a consistent thickness to make gluing easier.

Tools Required

  1. Circular saw
  2. Drill
  3. Miter saw
  4. Nail gun
  5. Table saw

Materials Required

  1. 1/4” plywood
  2. 1x4’s
  3. 2x4s
  4. 3/4” plywood
  5. Wood glue

Planning

When you’ve chosen the size, determine how many 2x4s you’ll need to cover the plywood backer. You’ll get 25 triangles from an 8-ft. 2×4, which covers about 1-3/4 sq. ft. Our 4 x 12-ft. project required 28 8-ft. 2x4s. We wanted all the triangle edges to be square, so I bought 2x6s and ripped them to 3-1/2 in. wide.

Once you start gluing down triangles, your pattern will be locked in, so do a dry run first, without glue. Starting with a pinwheel shape at the center, keep adding triangles until the plywood backer is full, with each triangle offset from its neighbor.

Project step-by-step (8)

Step 1

Paint the boards

abstract wall art stain the boardsFamily Handyman

After choosing your colors, paint both faces of each 2x4. We used dark blue on one face and light blue on the other.

Step 2

Build a zero-clearance miter saw fence

abstract wall art miter saw fenceFamily Handyman

Fasten a 1x4 to a piece of 1/4-in. plywood with glue and 1-in. screws. This not only gives you a zero-clearance fence but a throat plate as well. Attach the assembly to the miter saw fence with 3/4-in. screws. Set your miter saw to 45 degrees and make a cut.

Step 3

Cut the triangles

abstract wall art but the trianglesFamily Handyman

Cut a 45-degree angle at one end of each 2x4. For the next cut, flip the board and align what will be the triangle’s top point with the kerf in the 1/4-in. plywood. Mark where the long point of the triangle’s base lands on the fence and cut the triangle. Repeat this flip-and-cut process until you’ve cut all the triangles you need. Sand all the corners just enough to break the sharp edges.

Step 4

Glue on the triangles

abstract wall art glue down trianglesFamily Handyman

Snap a chalk line from opposite corners to find the center of the plywood. Mark a vertical and a horizontal layout line at the center point as a reference to start the pinwheel. Glue the triangles’ bases–one at a time–and start setting them in place.

Applying glue is the most time-consuming part of this project. The Rockler Silicone Glue Brush made the task much more efficient and bearable.

Step 5

Trim the edges

Flip the project over and trim off any overhanging triangles using a circular saw with a cutting guide. It won’t cut deep enough to cut all the triangles; you’ll need to finish with a handsaw.

Step 6

Attach the French cleats

abstract wall art attach french cleatsFamily Handyman

Because this thing is really heavy, we used two French cleats: one at the top edge and a second about 36 in. from the top. Leave the cleats short of the ends so they don’t show. To make the cleats, rip four 4-in.-wide strips of 3/4-in. plywood, and then cut a 45-degree bevel on one edge of each strip. Glue and clamp two cleats to the plywood with the beveled edge pointing down and facing the plywood. Secure the cleats using countersunk 1-1/4-in. construction screws.

Next, check out how to build a french cleat tool storage wall.

Step 7

Hang the project

abstract wall art mount projectFamily Handyman

Anchor the other two French cleats to studs in the wall using 3-in. screws, with the beveled faces pointing up and facing the wall. Measure carefully to ensure the cleats interlock properly. Hang the project on the cleats.

Step 8

Attach the frame

abstract wall art attach the frameFamily Handyman

Cut the 1x4 frame parts to length, and then nail them to the edges of the project with 2-in. brad nails.

abstract wall art featured imageFamily Handyman