How to cheat a hangin’

We’re breaking the rules here today.

I like to be all “professional” most of the time, but sometimes I do like to cheat.

Call me lazy. Call me crafty. Either way, I can hang pictures faster than anyone in the West.

(I say “West” because, really, I live on the Eastern Seaboard, so that’s all I have to compare against…sometimes I feel like I should clarify things…maybe too much…*clear throat*…)

Saddle up, amigos! We’re gonna take this job like an unarmed stagecoach! (Too far? I really have watched a lot of John Ford films…)

The Professional Way


  • Picture frame
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Hammer
  • Nail


  1. Hold your picture frame up to the wall and find the placement you like best.
  2. Using the pencil, mark the wall with a small dash at the very center of the top of the frame as it is held on the wall. 
  3. Remove the picture frame from the wall.
  4. Using the tape, measure the distance from the top of the picture frame to the top of the frame’s triangle hook / row of pointy teeth / whatever would catch on the nail thing. (If it is a wire, you’ll have to put it up to an inverted “v” to compensate for the frame’s weight when it is on the wall.) 
  5. Now take the measuring tape to the mark on the wall and carefully measure the same distance down that you did on the back of the frame.
  6. Put a dot on that measurement spot. 
  7. Erase the original dash, so you don’t see it on the wall above the frame.
  8. Hammer a nail into the wall on the remaining dot. (You can learn how to swing that hammer properly in this post.) 
  9. Now you can hang your picture.

The Gunslinger Way

  • Picture frame
  • Pencil
  • Hammer
  • Nail

That’s right. No measuring tape. Walk tall.


  1. Put the pencil between your teeth and the hammer on the floor at your feet. We’re shooting from the both hips on this and you’ll need your hands free.
  2. Hold your picture frame up to the wall and find the placement you like best, using only the hand that you write with
  3. With your non-writing hand, reach up over the back of frame, still holding the frame against the wall, and slide your middle finger down behind the frame so the tip of your finger is centered against the top of the triangle hook / row of pointy teeth / whatever would catch on the nail thing. (If it’s a wire, you’ll have to pull it up to an inverted “v” account for the frame’s weight when you hang it.) 
  4. Press the top of the frame into your finger against the wall, making an impression of the hook thingy into your finger pad.
  5. Now move fast! Leave the non-writing hand in the same place on the wall and use your other hand to put the frame between your knees.
  6. Take the pencil out of your teeth and place the point right on the top of the still indented mark on your non-writing hand, which should be on the wall. 
  7. Gently slide your finger out from under the pencil point and guide the pencil the few remaining centimeters to the wall and make a dot. 
  8. Drop the pencil, grab the hammer and put a nail clear through that dot. (Learn how to do it like you mean it right here.)
  9. Hang your picture. Time to move on, partner.

Like any true skill, The Gunslinger Way does take some practice. But you can sure feel like Annie Oakley when you get good and fast at it. (And thank you for indulging my sillier side with this post. Much appreciated.) Now if I could just figure out how to spin my hammer around my index finger…

Do you have any DIY cheats you can recommend? Any picture hanging nightmares you’ve lived through? Leave a comment and share your story!

Posted on May 26, 2011, in DIY. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I love all the western references. I always have trouble with hanging photos myself. I end up making several holes in the wall before settling on the finished product. This helps a lot.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: