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Custom-Made Picture Frames
|[Choosing Stock] [Ripping Stock] [Edge Profiles]|
[Miter Cutting Frame Members] [Gluing Up] [Decorative Options] [Finish Work]
|Everyone Likes a Picture Frame|
Creating custom picture frames for friends and family is a great gift giving project that's sure to please even those difficult to shop for gift recipients. Everyone has a special photo or keepsake they've meant to have framed. Making a custom frame to match may be the best gift of the season. Best of all, it's a quick and simple project to complete with the right tools and set up.
Ripping to Width
Now rip your stock to width. Use 3/4" lumber (you can go thicker but it's not a good idea to go any thinner), and rip it at least 1 1/2" wide because anything less will look pale and weak--like you skimped. And you wouldn't want to leave a bad Yuletide impression.
Using a good table saw and fence, rip enough length to account for the full dimensions of your finished frame, leaving an inch or so extra at the ends for good measure.
Cut a rabbet in the backside of your lengths to accommodate the artwork, matting, and backer board that will be installed in the finished frame. It helps to envision the thickness of the stock in thirds, which is why 3/4" stock works so well. The rabbet should be no shallower than 1/2" and should remove no more than 2/3rds off the thickness so that there is at least a 1/4" left to profile an edge on the front side. (See Illustration 1.) A 1/2" rabbet or straight router bit will typically take a 3/8" width of cut. This is a good dimension that will create a 1/2" by 3/8" rabbet in the backside of your frame. Although your table saw can be used to cut this rabbet, a router table may be a safer alternative. Chuck a 1/2" bit in your router table and rout the backside of your frame members.
The Front, Inside Edge
Choose the style of molding profile you want along the front, inside edge of your frame. Since there is only 1/4" of stock thickness left along this edge, you'll want to keep this profile within a 1/8" tolerance to leave a strong enough edge within which to hold the frame's contents. Leaving anything less will create a raggedy looking edge or none at all. The profile you choose here should remove no more than half the wood fiber from this inside edge, so it's important to choose the proper type of router bit. Bisecting the edge with, say a 1/4' bit will leave just the right amount of stock and create an attractively dimensioned inside border for your frame. (See Illustration 2.) A cove bit or classic bit, for example, would do nicely. In working with narrow widths, always use feather boards on your router table. It saves fingers.
Front, Outside Edge
For aesthetics and eye appeal, a different edge profile works best along the front, outside edge of your frame. If you've used a bead on the inside edge, a Roman Ogee, Classic Roman, or Ogee Fillet would look nice on this outside edge. Taking away no more than half the wood fiber is a good rule for sake of both appearance and strength. (See Illustration 3.) Tip: this edge can be profiled after glue-up, which sometimes results in better looking corners.
The Back, Outside Edge(Optional)
As an option, you may want to also profile the back outside edge of your frame. To maintain structural integrity and good appearance, don't remove more than half the remaining amount of stock from this edge should you choose this option.
Rockler Sure-Loc Miter Gauge
[Length of Mat] - [width of rabbet]x2 + [width of frame]x2
Trimming to Fit
Sam Maloof Poly/Oil Finish
There are many good finishing alternatives for picture frames (which will not normally need to endure a great deal of wear or stress). A good-quality oil finish will achieve a nice luster, but wax or polyurethane will also do nicely.
Now that your beautiful, hand crafted frame is complete you may have trouble giving it away. If so, you'll need to make another. But before you wrap it for Christmas, make sure to brand your signature on it with your "hand crafted by" branding iron because you'll be creating a high-quality family heirloom that will be cherished for generations.
|Finishing Supplies||Picture Frame Moldings||Handcrafted by... Branding Irons||Router Bits|
|Clampmate Frame||Accurate Miter Gauge||Frame Clamps and Framers Pliers||Epoxy|