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Make Your Own Picture Frame

Decorating, Trim Carpentry, Woodworking - Directory January 23, 2011 admin


 

By Matt Weber

 

Right Frame of Mind. Cutting, Shaping and Joining Your Own Picture Frame.


 

During college I had a part-time job chopping wood for a framing shop in Memphis, Tennessee. I made several frames per day, joining the miters with a Cassesse machine. This was a large, table-sized machine driven by an air compressor, on which we’d join the corners by pressing a foot pedal that fired a V-shaped metal fastener into the underside of the miters. These V-shaped wedges provided a good, strong connection for a picture frame, but most folks don’t have a Cassesse machine laying around the garage.

Rip the dimensional oak lumber to your desired molding width.

Rip the dimensional oak lumber to your desired molding width.

Neither do I, but after having assembled countless picture frames, I cringe at the prospect of paying the high cost of a professional framer to do something I can do myself. Maybe I’m stubborn. Maybe I’m cheap. Either way, this article will show how you, too, can be stubborn and cheap by cutting, shaping and joining your own frame from hardwood that’s widely available at most home stores. The stock I used for this project was 1X oak lumber that I picked up at my local Lowe’s store (www.lowes.com).

Measure the artwork dimensions carefully, and add 1/8" to each side to allow a little wiggle room within the frame.

Measure the artwork dimensions carefully, and add 1/8″ to each side to allow a little wiggle room within the frame.

Of course, frame shops offer all sorts of picture moulding, from wood to metal to plastic, in countless designs and profiles. You can always purchase these pre-manufactured sticks and go straight to the measuring and mitering. Or, as shown here, you can make moulding from “scratch.”

Set the rabbeting bit just deep enough to allow the combined thickness of the artwork and glass.

Set the rabbeting bit just deep enough to allow the combined thickness of the artwork and glass.

One advantage to making your own picture moulding is that there aren’t many rules. You’re the artist. You can make the moulding as thin or as thick as you want. If you’re handy at crafts, you can add detailed carvings, burned wood engravings or faux finishes. You can go crazy with a variety of router bits, or even build up your molding with trim strips of various profiles to create elaborate cornice designs.

Routing a rabbet in the rear of the frame creates a groove that conceals the edges of the art.

Routing a rabbet in the rear of the frame creates a groove that conceals the edges of the art.

I was framing a sports painting—a print by Daniel Moore, an artist who paints University of Alabama football players in moments of game-changing glory. It had been professionally matted by a framing shop and given to me as a gift. Considering the subject matter, I didn’t want my moulding frilly or feminine, so I cut it from 1-by-8 oak stock.

Use any number of router bits to create a profile of your choice.

Use any number of router bits to create a profile of your choice.


Making the Cut

The 3/4-inch thickness of the oak worked fine for my purpose, but I ripped the boards on my table saw to about 3 inches wide.

A round-over bit is shaped to ease the edge of wood stock, which made the edge of the frame less susceptible to nicks and dents.

A round-over bit is shaped to ease the edge of wood stock, which made the edge of the frame less susceptible to nicks and dents.