Post details: Custom-Made Picture Frames

02/05/05

Permalink 02:07:38 pm, Categories: Articles, 626 words   English (US)

Custom-Made Picture Frames


Picture FrameEveryone 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.

 

MattingStart with Matting

If possible, mat your intended photography or artwork before cutting any stock. This will help you determine the final dimensions of your completed frame, and the type of stock you'll want to use. Although you can purchase pre-cut matting at your local hobby store, using your own mat cutting system may be more economical, especially if you have a lot of family and friends for whom you're making frames.
MatMate System

Choosing Stock

Next you'll want to choose your stock. Picture frames don't require a lot so your scrap pile can often yield a treasure of possibility. Carefully match the color of your lumber to the artwork or photograph, and mat. It's the mark of a meticulous craftsperson and it's sure to impress. If your scrap pile doesn't cooperate, there are dozens of wood stock types available in all colors and textures. Tip: If you're really in a hurry, you can use ready-to-cut picture frame moldings.

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.

Rabbet the Backside

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.

Backside

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.

Tools you'll need for this project

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