Making Picture Frames

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Forum topic by John posted 10-23-2007 04:19 PM 7586 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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100 posts in 3911 days

10-23-2007 04:19 PM

I need to make 8×10 inch picture frames from scratch. They need to be made from the same material as the plaques on which they will be mounted, which is solid oak. I intend rip oak pieces on my tablesaw to 1” wide by 3/4” thick. I will remove the material needed for the glass and matting, and have done so already, but this is where I get stuck. Having never made a picture frame, I quickly learned how difficult it is when you don’t know what you are doing. I desperately need to know a few things:

1. How do I keep the wood from chipping when using my miter saw – that is – what blade should I use?
2. What do woodworkers use to hold the corners at 90 degrees when connecting them?
3. What staples/nails should I use to hold the frame corners permanently together?
4. Is it necessary to use wood glue if I use the right staples?

I have looked at the “special” machines in an art supply magazine used to put the staples in, but they start at $150. I figured you guys could recommend the proper tools that woodworkers use, and in the end I might have a new little compressor and nail gun instead of a limited application tool which can only be used for framining.

Your input would be GREATLY appreciated.

-- Thanks!

4 replies so far

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4031 days

#1 posted 10-23-2007 04:31 PM

Well, to limit chip out with oak, you need to support the wood fibers. If it’s red oak, it tears out like mad. I usually make a sub fence and table for my miter saw out of MDF. You may find that your miter saw has a stop on it to control the depth of cut for exactly this purpose. This will effectively act as a zero clearance insert and will reduce tear out considerably. Just make a but joint with two pieces of MDF, clamp or screw them (threw holes already there) to your miter saw, then set your blade angle and make a kerf in both the 45 directions. This gives you a perfect mark for ligning up the cut too.

As for clamping, band clamps are used with frames alot. it’s essentially a tied down strap that holds all the corners together. You can see examples at Rockler or Lee Valley. They are crazy easy to make yourself.

You need glue. You are joining end grain to end grain and need all the help you can get.

As for fasteners, there are frame staples that get set from the backside and don’t need a special tool. Again available at Rockler or Lee Valley.

I don’t make frames alot but I hope that gets you started.


-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

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3391 posts in 3891 days

#2 posted 10-23-2007 07:12 PM

John – check out this link on a neat way to clamp up frames.

I have never had to much luck with web clamps on picture frames – but many folks do. I have a tendency to overtighten web clamp.

You absolutely must use glue because of the end grain to end grain issue. I’ve never used screws, nails or staples on my picture frame joints. I’ve always used keys on each corner and/or decorative dowel pins that do doulbe duty as support and decoration.

Hope this helps.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

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100 posts in 3911 days

#3 posted 10-23-2007 07:46 PM

Thanks for the replies. So, I now can:

1. Reduce tearout with a jig – and probably will change the blade on my saw as well :)
2. Have located several differnt clamps on the Rockler site which will hold the frame square
3. Have located the staple tool on the Rockler site – but am wondering if I will be able to push the staples into oak?
4. And I now know that I MUST use glue.

I watched the video and that idea is fantastic, but he didn’t show how he would connect them. Can I assume he will glue them, THEN drive in his wedges, and THEN put staples in???

-- Thanks!

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3891 days

#4 posted 10-23-2007 08:03 PM

John I doubt that he uses staples in his frames. I 100% certain he uses glue and more than likely a spline of one fashion or another. I’m sure if you e-mail him on his site he will tell you exactly how he connects his frame pieces.

I always let my frames sit a day or so before I do my corner splines. I’m very seldom in a hurry and the extra times gives the glue more cure time.

There is also a good video about picture frames on the site: – definitly worth the time to check out.

As to red oak – I’m with Tom you must have a backing fence on the miter saw or the tear out will be bad. The other thing to consider is to make sure your blade is set exactly to 45 degrees or no matter how much glue you use or the splines you use your joints won’t come together.

Hope this all helps.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

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