Custom Picture Frames Construction Tutorial


AzGC would like to give a big “Tip-of-the-Hat” to member Joe Goodson for sharing his work on how he produces his beautiful picture frames to display his sandcarved glass.


 PictureFrame-01  You need three basic tools for making a picture frame.  A table saw, palm sander, and a router table with a rabbit bit and a chamfer bit.
PictureFrame-02  This is a basic frame profile.  I tend to keep my frames simple in design, relying on the natural beauty of the wood to get the customer’s attention.  I often use wood from anywhere I can get it, but I do order exotic woods like Purple Heart, Brazilian Walnut, African Tiger Wood, Bubinga, and anything else that looks nice with a simple, clear satain finish sprayed on it.  These exotics are expensive, but I have learned that if you order it in 2-inch thick pieces (eight quarter), you will get more bang for your buck.  Just ask them to “dress” the wood on two edges.
TablesawGuide-01  A crosscut/miter sled will help you in making consistant miter cuts for the corners of the frames.  Mill down a straight piece of wood that will snugly fit in the groove in your table saw and mount it to the bottom of a piece of plywood leaving it a litle long on the left side so you can run it through the saw and cut the board with the blade.  This will make it easy for you to mark the 45-degree line needed for mounting the board to the other side.  I glued and nailed mine to the plywood.
TablesawGuide-02 Once you have cut the left edge of the plywood, use a speed square to mark the 45-degree line.  Glue and nail or screw a straight board to the top of the plywood roughly 6-inches back from the top.Hold your pieces of frame tight to this board and slide the table sled foroward, thereby cutting an allegedly perfect 45-degree angle, assuming of course that your blade is at a perfect 90-degree angle.
PictureFrame-07  This shows how I insure that both parallel pieces are the same length.  After you cut the second piece, hold them both up like this again to make sure that they are the same exact length.
PictureFrame-08  This shows how I clamp a piece of wood for a straight edge to the saw horses.  Line the pieces up point-to-point so that they are in the proper order.  Tape them with blue painter’s tape and roll them over so that you can glue them.  Carefullly fold them together and gently lay them down so that they can be glued.  Tape the final joint together, and then proceed to clamp the frame in place.
PictureFrame-04  Always make sure your parallel pieces are always the same length and always make sure that your frame is clamped down in a square position.  Use a dripping wet rag to wipe away any excess glue, paying particular attention to the inside corners.  At this point, the inside facets of your frame should have a fine, finished, well sanded surface.  Wipe away all glue before you walk away.  Wait 24 hours minimum before you remove the clamps.
PictureFrame-03  I use a flat work piece to clamp the frame down to.  Notice the paper under the corners.  This prevents you from gluing the frame to the table.  Been there, done that.
PictureFrameGlueing-01 Be sure that your pieces are the same length and ensure that they are perfectly aligned with the framing square before you glue and set the clamps.The upper-left frame corner in this photo was glued earlier as this small frme made it hard to reach this corner with a clamp.Remember to use bits of newspaper to act as a glue barrier under the glue joints.
PictureFrame-06  I modified my home made jig so that the frame would be held in a perfectly vertical position.  This insures that when I cut the spline slots they will be perfect when done.
PictureFrame-05  Notice that there are two spline slots cut in this one.  It is going to be a deeper, shadow box type frame, so two will look better than one.  Make sure that you hold the entire frame perfectly vertical and smoothly push it through the blade.  Be careful when you are doing this.  I would suggest using a wood for the spline that is at the other end of the spectrum from the frame wood you are using.  You want the contrast to stand out and bring attention to the simple, but note worthy detail you are adding to the frame.  Also, this way ou don’t have to hide any brad holes.  Also, some of the woods I work with are so hard, they laugh at brad guns.  You can find the vice grips at Harbor Freight relatively cheap.
 PictureFrameExample-02  Sample frame finished miter joint.
 PictureFrameExample-01   Sample frame finished miter joint.

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