Ultimate Picture Frame Jig & Spline Jig

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Project by Don Johnson posted 07-07-2015 01:26 PM 2431 views 7 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

As a subscriber to The Drunkenwoodworker’s channel on YouTube, I naturally viewed his videos on making picture frames:

I was struck by the design ingenuity and ease of use of these two jigs,and would have liked to make both of then, but really could not justify doing so as I had no reason to be producing picture frames. A little while later, whilst discussing the website I am setting up for an artist friend – – she happened to mention that she had a business proposition for me, which would be to make her some picture frames !

So, immediately (as is my custom) I found a source of an aluminium ruler of similar length to that specified, and set about making the frame jig. I did not use the Micro Jig Zero Play Guide Bar (not available in the UK ?) but fitted two oak strips as I did previously for a table saw sled. I found that I needed to attach a washer to mate with the mitre gauge T slot, as otherwise the jig wanted to fall ‘backwards’ due to the cantilever effect of the extended length sticking beyond the front edge of my table saw.

I was lucky that my narrow kerf table saw blade cut just the right slot thickness in the stop block to suit the ruler, but instead of using a toggle clamp, I used a brass thread insert and a steel screw to lock the stop block in position – see picture six. However, as shown by the arrow in picture three, the steel screw marked the soft aluminium ruler, so a new stop block was made with a tapped thread into which was fitted a bolt made of nylon. The ‘sticky’ effect of nylon meant that the bolt did not need to be screwed very tighly, and could be just finger tight, so a knob did not need to be fitted to the bolt head.

I made the spline jig pretty well exactly as the YouTube video, and changed the saw blade to one that creates flat bottomed cuts – which are 3.2 mm wide. There is MDF sheet available which is also 3.2 mm thick, so splines were easy to make and fit into place. Picture four shows the first frame I made, from some pine, and the jigs worked very easily and accurately. I set the stop to 10 inches, and the finished frame rebate was exactly ten inches when measured. No tricky calculations needed.

As a safety feature, I may fit a 45 degree ended block to the first jig so that it will cover the saw blade if it comes past the guides.

-- Don, Somerset UK,

7 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile


22669 posts in 2284 days

#1 posted 07-07-2015 01:30 PM

It certainly is an interesting jig. Nice work.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Drunken Woodworker's profile

Drunken Woodworker

69 posts in 1669 days

#2 posted 07-07-2015 01:46 PM

Don, this is awesome! Hope it works out well for you!

-- Visit my blog at

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 2752 days

#3 posted 07-07-2015 02:08 PM

Nice jig!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View GerardoArg1's profile


935 posts in 1411 days

#4 posted 07-07-2015 04:00 PM

Great idea. Very useful really.

-- Disfruta tu trabajo (enjoy your work) (Bandera, Argentina)

View jaykaypur's profile


3996 posts in 1826 days

#5 posted 07-07-2015 05:51 PM

Nice jig and thanks for sharing it.

-- Use it up, Wear it out --------------- Make it do, Or do without!

View Mean_Dean's profile


4930 posts in 2565 days

#6 posted 07-07-2015 11:50 PM

Definitely a useful jig for anyone making picture frames!

-- Dean

View Don Johnson's profile

Don Johnson

649 posts in 2198 days

#7 posted 08-05-2015 06:36 PM

Further to my initial posting, I’ve made a change that might be of interest to anyone else using David’s design.
I found that the Micro Jig Zero Play Guide Bar IS available in the UK – see – so as my wood guides tended to be a bit ‘sticky’ I decided to give one a try, and it did improve sliding without increasing play. I fitted only one Bar, but again found the problem of the whole jig tipping backwards off the saw due to the amount hanging over the front of the saw.

My solution to this was to use the Stop insert – which has a ‘T’ section – to hold the jig down at the front. I fitted it in the OTHER mitre slot, near the front, using a bolt in a counterbored hole – just like those for the Bar mountings, but larger – to get the position correct, then tightening the bolt fully, and putting a screw into the smaller square hole on the underside to lock it in place. Initially I tried putting the Stop insert in front of the Bar, to use the same mitre slot, but that meant that the Bar was too far back on the jig, and not all of it was functional at the point where the saw blade was actually cutting.

My friend is delighted with the frames I’m making with this jig, and I’ve just taken up a special offer for the Spring Mitre Clamp Kit – see – which has speeded up production quite a bit.

-- Don, Somerset UK,

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