Simple picture frames

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Project by ferstler posted 01-28-2011 11:41 PM 1665 views 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Years ago, after carefully photographing the subject items while on vacation, I printed two 16×20 black and white photos for our guest bedroom. (Photography remains a hobby, although now with digital gear, although these shots were each done with an on-camera 35 mm Minolta “shift” lens to keep the vertical perspective from having a keystone effect.) I framed them with black and white frames, and for years my wife and I were satisfied.

Lately, however, my wife has become interested in color, and while I could not change the color of the pictures, I could change the frames. So, out went the old frames into storage for maybe use someday down the line, and out to my workshop I went. I happened to have some clean select-pine boards on hand. I wanted to keep this a simple project, and simple it was.

The new frames were quick to build, thanks to a decent table saw, a good planer, a good table-top shaper, a good sliding miter saw, and a Kreg jig. The jig made a tedious job a bit easier, with a fast finish to the assembly work. One photo shows the backside of one of the frames, with the jig screws installed. With good 45-degree cuts from the miter saw the Kreg jig gave me an instant, perfectly squared frame. No clamping needed (in the old days this would have been mandatory) and, heck, I did not even use glue. Prior to the assembly I used the table saw to slim down the pine planks and used the planer to make them a bit less thick. The table shaper, using roundover bits I had purchased from Grizzly, rounded off the edges, and some careful hand sanding took care of the fit and finish aspect.

Well, almost. Anybody who has made frames knows that flat frames like these tend to show off the 45-degree joints in a less than professional-looking way. If the final paint or urethane finish is a bit on the shiny side light coming obliquely will tend to show any irregularities. To combat this, I decided to purposely make some specialized irregularities at the joints to mask any anomalies. To do this, I clamped each finished (but not painted) frame to my 12-inch Ridgid sliding miter saw (at different positions for each cut) and then used its partial-cut (dado-like) feature to slice grooves 3/32 of an inch wide and 1/8 inch deep right along each seam. (I used an outboard Ridgid stand to stabilize the part of each frame that was hanging off of the saw table.) Normally, this is risky, because typical blades will cause tear out, especially at the edges of a workpiece. However, I have a fine Freud Industrial miter blade in that saw, and it did the job in a very clean way. See the close-up photo. The Ridgid miter saw has a larger than average table, and that greatly assisted the careful clamping work I had to do.

Finally, I gave each frame an initial coat of black enamel, and then hit them with three additional coats of burgundy enamel. The black undercoat insured that the final finish was suitably dark.

The third photo shows the finished frames on the wall. The wife is satisfied.

Howard Ferstler

4 comments so far

View jack1's profile


2102 posts in 3958 days

#1 posted 01-29-2011 01:33 AM

Nice details and good overall look to the frames. Building frames can be fussy work.

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View Ken90712's profile


17553 posts in 3120 days

#2 posted 01-29-2011 12:12 PM

Frames can be tricky no doubt. Nice effect.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Alan's profile


443 posts in 3335 days

#3 posted 01-29-2011 03:36 PM

good idea with the corners.

-- Alan, Prince George

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 3256 days

#4 posted 01-30-2011 12:46 AM

Really well done. And the photos themselves look very interesting.

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