Thursday, October 22, 2015

How to hang a picture - using D Rings

I'm going to be doing a number of posts about how to hang a painting. These will consider different aspects of what's involved in hanging a painting and hanging an exhibition.

This first post will consider how to hang a picture frame using D rings - using two different approaches for different size and weight of picture - and includes images and videos to show you how to use D rings.

A small artwork framed using D rings as hanging hardware
Note how the professional framer has used single strand of picture cord
and then knotted and and whipped the ends
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Update: The next two posts are:

What are D Rings?

D rings are a very common type of hanging hardware used by professional picture framers and also available to all artists via retailers in the high street and online (see below for links to some of these in the UK).
  • They comprise a ring - in the shape of a letter D (hence the name) and a plate with a screw hole.
  • D rings are always used in pairs - screwed into the back of the frame. 
  • They can have one screw hole or two. One hole is suitable for lighter works. As the weight increases (eg medium sized pictures) use a D ring with two screws for greater security.
  • The ones most commonly used for small works are nickel plated.  
  • The type of screws used should be matched if possible to the type of D ring used.

Use of D Rings:

  • Which way the D Rings are screwed into the frame depends on the size/wight of the picture and which method is used for hanging using D Rings (see below for smaller/lighter pictures and tomorrow's post for larger/heavier pictures)
  • They are usually made of steel with a nickel or brass plating. The cheapest are zinc plated.

For heavier pictures:

  • The nature, composition and size of the D ring usually changes as the size and weight of the framed artwork increases.
  • The plate part of the D Ring extends and the number of screw holes increase so that the load is spread. 
  • The location of the D ring on the frame also changes to ensure a secure hang.

Why use D Rings

D rings are:
  • Much stronger than the small screw eyes or screw rings which should only be used for very light items 
  • Much more suitable for framed artwork which is other than small. As a rule of thumb, if the size of my framed artwork is about the size of an A4 piece of paper or bigger I would always use a D ring. 
  • Enable the hanging wire or cord or chain to be threaded easily. 
  • Hardware which lie flat. If taped over, they won't damage other frames when pictures are stored in stacks (very common in open exhibitions and for any artist producing a lot of work)

How to attach D Rings to hang a picture

There are basically two approaches to hanging using D Rings.

  1. Process One - ONLY suitable for smaller works of art - typically uses wire or picture cord - see below for supplies and process
  2. Process Two - typically used for larger/heavier works of art - see tomorrow's post.

Process One Basics: You need:
  • EITHER a pair of ordinary one hole D rings suitable for smaller / lighter pictures plus associated screws
  • OR a pair of two hole D rings suitable for medium sized (but not heavy) pictures
  • a measuring tape or a ruler
  • a soft pencil
  • A screwdriver
  • A bradawl or a sharp nail and a small hammer (for making sharp indentations in the wood)
  • Picture Wire or Picture cord - Both are suitable as they are created using several strands which are twisted together. They also do NOT stretch like ordinary string.
  • wire cutters or pliers
  • picture hooks and steel pins (for smaller /medium size pictures)
  • a spirit level

Process One - Smaller pictures hung using wire or cord

A. Create a secure hanging structure on the rear of the picture

AIM:  Position the D rings on the vertical sides of the frame with the D on the inside (see image) and then string and fix the wire or cord between them.
  1. Check which is the top of the frame - and write a T in the middle of the frame on the back
  2. Decide where you want the D rings to be. Typically they are positioned no more than one third down from the top. 
  3. Measure the length of the vertical and calculate what one third is
  4. Measure a third of the distance from the top (a round figure in inches or metric makes life easier eg 3 inches)
  5. Mark the distance with a large dot using a soft pencil
  6. Using the Bradawl (or sharp nail and a hammer) create a sharp indentation in the wood frame
  7. Place the screw hole of the D Ring over the indentation and screw the D ring into the frame
  8. Repeat for the other side
  9. String the picture cord or wire between the D rings and make sure it is secure and reasonably tight - but make sure it has some give. (Personally I double strand with picture cord and then use a knot I know does NEVER comes undone! It's the Girl Guide in me!  BELOW is a video which shows you how to use wire and make it secure)

VIDEO: How to How To Screw D-Rings & Tie Wire On A Picture Frame 

This video clearly demonstrates how to measure and insert the D rings, the use of a bradawl and how to tie off plastic coated steel wire to the D ring

B. Create a hanging structure on the wall

  1. Position the picture on the wall where you want it to hang.  Using a pencil, mark the wall above the centre of the top of the frame
  2. Drop (say) one or two inches below the top of the frame mark on the wall and fix an appropriate sized picture hook to the wall using hardened and/or steel pins (these make for a much stronger and secure fastening). 
  3. If the picture is in a landscape or panoramic format you might want to use two picture hooks at approximately a quarter of the distance from the ends of the top horizontal.
  4. Hang the wire/cord over the picture hook. Check whether or not it is level with a spirit level (you can get an iPhone app for this!
Note there are various types of picture hooks. These include:

Some suppliers of D Rings

D rings and proper picture hooks are not the easiest thing to find. It took me a while to track down who stocked them - and I got a lot of blank faces in a lot of shops before I worked out the best ones for stock. You can see a range of D Rings in the selection offered by

More information about Hanging Techniques

More posts about framing

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