Real Estate

Do-It-Yourself: Picture perfect

Woodworking hobbyist shares picture hanger process

A woodworking class at the Palo Alto Adult School turned into a little business for Los Altos resident Rhonda Stieber. Since her introduction to the craft more than five years ago, she has learned woodworking basics, such as reading plans, using tools and staying safe, and has invested in her own miter saw and hand sander.

Then in 2013, she opened her own Etsy shop, Treetop Woodworks. This online platform has allowed her to sell more than 1,200 of her handmade, rustic wares to people around the world.

"This is definitely a hobby," she said. "It has to fit into my nights and weekends."

A high-tech professional by day, Stieber enjoys that her hobby keeps her busy, especially during the holiday season. Custom orders also stretch her creativity and business, such as the dog leash hooks with treat jars.

"I'm inspired by customers," she says. "It's so fun to work with them."


• piece of wood (length can vary)

• clothespins

• twine

• sander/sandpaper

• wood stain

• cloth/rag

• wood sealer, such as polyurethane

• paint brush

• two screw eye rings

• two D-ring/triangle hangers with screws

• scissors

• hammer (optional)

• nails (optional)

Step 1: Cut a piece of wood to the desired length. For example, Stieber offers 24- and 28-inch-long options. The length is determined by the space you have for the picture hanger and the number of items you wish to hang from it. Stieber says that home improvement store staff can cut pieces to specific lengths. She recommends 1-by-6-inch or 1-by-4-inch pieces cut to the desired length.

Step 2 Sand the piece of wood, focusing on the edges so that they are smooth. Stieber, who prefers a more rustic look, does extra sanding on the corners. In addition, she distresses the wood with a hammer and nails by beating random holes and cuts into the piece of wood.

Step 3 Apply a wood stain with a cloth or rag. The color of the stain is up to the do-it-yourselfer. She typically lets the stain sit for three to four minutes before wiping it off the wood. Then, she lets the piece dry for at least 24 hours. Stieber likes a dark walnut stain made by Minwax, and recommends that people test different stains on a scrap piece or the back of the project before staining the entire piece.

Step 4 Use a paint brush to apply a wood sealer, such as Varathane polyurethane. Stieber uses a fast-drying satin finish and applies two coats (follow directions on product for best results).

Step 5 Attach the two D-ring/triangle hangers on the back with their screws in the same fashion (same distance from end and at same height). These will allow you to hang the picture hanger on the wall. Twist the screw eye rings into the front of the stained, sealed piece of wood. Each ring should be screwed in the same distance from the end at the same height. These will be used to affix the twine to the piece.

Step 6 Cut a piece of twine that is about 6 inches longer than the distance between the two screw eye rings. Then, thread the twine through the middle circle on the clothespins so that they can slide back and forth on the twine. Use as many clothespins as needed for your picture hanger.

Step 7 Tie the twine to the screw eye rings with a knot. Once secured, cut away any excess twine.

Step 8 Hang up your finished wookworking project, and add photos and artwork for all to enjoy.


Calling all crafters and do-it-yourselfers: In each edition of Home + Garden Design, this Do-It-Yourself section will feature a project and simple steps to help local residents go from zero to beautiful in their own home or garden. If you have a project or skill you would like to share, please email publication editor Brenna Malmberg at


This article appeared in print in the Winter Home + Garden Design 2016 publication.

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by Doug Haley
a resident of Los Altos
on Jan 7, 2016 at 5:15 pm

I am actually not from Los Altos, the form did not allow me to put my town. I’m from far far away, Kentucky! I learned of Rhonda through a business adventure a few months ago. I have a very large woodshop and know woodworking. I am very envious of her talent with such few tools and small shop. And her marketing skills seem to top her woodworking skills.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Don't be the last to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Beer and brats: Ludwig's German Table coming to Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 5 comments | 3,434 views

Who Pays for Palo Alto Schools
By Steve Levy | 38 comments | 1,897 views

The Other Greenhouse Gas
By Sherry Listgarten | 8 comments | 1,773 views

College Tours
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 1,014 views

Let’s blame car drivers, not the pedestrians wearing black clothes!!??
By Diana Diamond | 8 comments | 709 views


Short story writers wanted!

The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

Contest Details