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Picture Frames Build

 

This is "Part II" of a frame project begun last month: Designing Picture Frames

In "Part I", I wrote about the design aspect of this project. Now that I've finished making the frames, here is a photo essay showing the construction and assembly.

After the stock was prepared (selected, jointed, planed to thickness, ripped to width) the first step in producing my design was to plough a shallow dado in the frame. All frame pieces are treated the same. The fence was then moved over a quarter inch and ploughed again.

Take note of the pile of stock on the right side of the saw. I am writing about two picture frames, but I decided to make a third for another use at the same time. In projects like this, the tool setup is the largest part of the work. Creating a bit more frames pieces requires very little incremental work. I actually have enough extra for at least a fourth or fifth frame, depending on the size.

The result of that are two shallow grooves in the stock.

(PLEASE NOTE: These grooves are delicate. During the construction I found that they chipped out a bit too easily when cutting the miters. Next time I would perhaps try spacing them a bit further apart, or maybe just cut one. I just wanted to warn you about this.)

Next step is on the router table. I used a 3/8" roundover bit to cut the outside curved profile.
Change router bits for a cove bit to cut the inside profile.

Note that both these cuts, the cove and the roundover, are cut in several passes, each time cutting a bit deeper. The photos show the tool setup for the final pass.

I don't show cutting the rabbet along the inside edge of the frame. The size and depth of that depend on what it is that you are framing.

Once I am finished cutting all the frame profiles, I can move on to actually assembling a frame. I used a 45-degree crosscut sled that I built for my tablesaw. This does an awesome job of cutting miters that meet tightly and produce a 90-degree frame.

I measured the picture and used that to cut the frame pieces to size. I allow approximately 1/8" (3mm) of extra in both directions, so the picture fits, but not too tightly.

Clamping a picture frame, or anything with 45-degree angles, can be tricky. A good tool here would be a strap or band clamp. Unfortunately, I don't have one. I tried just using my parallel clamps, but the frame slipped -- fortunately before the glue set up -- and I had to come up with another option.

I own a Dowelmax dowelling jig, and that proved to be a fairly quick solution for my situation. I used the dowel jig to put one 1/4" dowel hole in the face of each joint. I don't need them for the strength, just for the alignment. The other three pieces are lined up on the bench ready to be drilled.

After the holes are drilled, I always perform a test fit. Fluted dowels can be a tight fit, so I have a set of dowels that I squished a bit with a wrench that I keep set aside for the dry fits. I use "fresh" dowels for the actual glue-up.
Close-up shot of one of the joints.
I apply some glue inside each dowel hole, slip in a fluted dowel. (I use compressed/fluted dowels which expand when in contact with water based glue.) Then apply glue to the face of the miter joints and close up the joints. The dowels force the joints to stay aligned. The clamps can then be tightened just a bit to hold things tight and square as the glue dries.
For finishing I wiped on one coat of sealcoat shellac, followed by two coats of waterbased varathane. I was tempted to just use some spray lacquer, which would be quicker and look much the same, but we are having a -15c cold snap right now, and it is far too cold in our garage to spray lacquer.
That is about the end of that. All that remains is to hang the paintings in their new home. And as a bonus, I have some frame piece already prepared in storage for future framing needs.

 

Thanks for reading!