Black Lacquer B/W Photo Frames

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Project by grovemadman posted 02-12-2008 01:15 PM 3353 views 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I made these frames as a trio in 2002. These were some of the hardest frames I’ve made to date. To start with I used very thin base moulding to give the frames a flat contemporary look. Also, I am no expert at Lacquer finishes. Milling and construction of the frames was a nightmare. The moulding was too thin to rout a rabbet in the back side with out tearout – no matter how many shallow passes I took. The next option was the table saw, but the featherboards kept flipping the moulding up if I ran short pieces (very dangerous and I don’t recommend this method at all!) If I ran long pieces the rabbets wouldn’t stay consistant. After I made a jig to hold the molding down and straight I was able to get cuts I could live with, but I had to pare the rabett’s with a chisel in several places. Like a dummy, in total frustration and a sense of relief, I destroyed the jig when I was through milling!

These were supposed to be an easy, no brainer frame to make – at least I thought they would be… My troubles weren’t over yet. Trying to clamp frames with such a low profile proved to be nearly impossible. They kept twisting and “popping” out of the clamps. I have a LION miter trimmer for picture frames so I know my miters were dead on. And, there is no way to use biscuits either. I thought about using pins made from finish nails across the miters but I don’t like nail joints. They seemed sacriligious and I thought any hack could do that. So I was at the point of giving up when I saw the Tightbond Hi-purformer. I highly recommend this trick tool and I love it! This badboy glues up stuff in a hurry and boy do joints hold if you got ‘em tight! I still prefer the old fashioned way of gluing joints but on some things this tool can’t be beat. The open gluing time is seconds so make sure when you use one of these you do multiple test fits before actual bonding. Like I said if your joints are tight and you miss just a little you can forget about trying to get the joints apart – it ain’t gonna happen!

Anyway, I didn’t like the wood grain showing through when I test painted some cut offs so I put a very thin coat of spackle on the frame and spent days sanding to get them just right. Finally I primed them and painted them with several coats of jet black lacquer and wet sanded them with 600 grit wet or dry between coats. I finished with a few clear coats and was never so happy to get to the matting stage of the project.

So I go to get some mat at the art store and I saw it might look cool if I used something other than acid free white for a change. After selecting the material you see in the pictures above I nearly had a heart attack when I found out the price! (I always take my frames and the art with me when I buy cloth or mats to make sure I get what I want) I cut my own mats so at least I saved some dough there.

Nothing but the best for my snakes! The pictures were shot by Stuart Johnson and as you can see this guy is a top notch photographer. The time and effort Stuart took the morning we made the shots was incredible. He came back a few days later after he had developed them himself and blew my mind. These three photos were the ones he thought were the best and I won’t argue with that, even though he wasn’t completely satisfied with the work. He didn’t charge me; It is nice to have co-workers like him. He is a major reason I continued with photgraphy as a hobby. His influence and attention to detail have helped me throughout the years. When asked at the time these photo’s were taken to show him some of mine I was so embarrased after seeing his work that I threw most of my pictures away! I kind of wish I hadn’t done that now, But anyway that is another story.

I just wanted to make sure I gave his photos of my beloved snakes a really good home. I don’t think I could’ve presented his art any better. The pain these frames were to make are certainly worth it. And, these are three frames I’ll never give away!

-- --Chuck

3 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3818 days

#1 posted 02-12-2008 03:12 PM

These are really nice frames- and they should be with the amount of effort you put into them. I use the Tightbond hot melt glue as well and agree it is great.

Thanks for sharing.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4214 days

#2 posted 02-12-2008 03:36 PM

“Beloved snakes”, eh, Chuck? Now I see where the “madman” part of your andle comes from.

They are great photos and frames, though.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View grovemadman's profile


556 posts in 3767 days

#3 posted 02-12-2008 04:11 PM

Actually it’s cuz I’m crazy about Giant Sequoia Groves. I like my glue gun, it works often times when nothing else will.

-- --Chuck

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