Large Picture Frame Considerations Help

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Forum topic by Lukeg199 posted 11-10-2015 04:00 PM 737 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1891 days

11-10-2015 04:00 PM

Topic tags/keywords: large picture frame design joint backing glazing finishing joining

I just received my first commissioned project for replacing a large picture frame that frames a 24” x 36” poster. The owner balked at the $800 the local frame shop wanted to charge and instead ordered a frame online for $180. Unfortunately, after a year the composite 1 1/4” wide frame has twisted and distorted under weight – then he asked if i could make something for him. Having never made a frame this large, i would value input on several points when designing a frame of this size so that i don’t make something that fails down the road.

I’ve listed some design categories below. Please weigh in on them and if they are unnecessary to consider just say so.

Frame Molding Size
What is the minimum size (width and thickness) of the style/rail you would recommend for framing a 24×36 poster? (Let’s assume we are using glass instead of plexiglass.)

Wood Species
Hardwood or softwood? When does it matter (or does it matter at all) for large frames and weight/distortion considerations?

Hanging Method
I like key holes made with my router because it allows you to hang the frame flush to the wall and if they are there, there use is optional. Would you recommend against this method for a large/heavy frame?

Backing Material
I’m thinking core board because it’s light, and relatively stiff. Would you recommend differently?

Backing Holders
I’ve got my own method of crating 1/8 thick x 3/4 wide x 2 inch long fingers that swivel to hold the backing and allow easy changing of the artwork. They also have dado-ed pockets to maintain the flush back profile of the frame. Any reason that this might not work? Got a better solution? ( i may try and upload a photo on this later)

Joint Type
I have a frame miter sled that is dead nuts accurate and glue up with a bessey frame clamp and titebond I, then spline the joints. Strong enough? Got a better recommendation?

With such large lengths, i’m thinking that locking out moisture is essential to durability of the frame so that twisting and warping are eliminated. Whats the minimum level of finish you would put on this? I’m thinking exclusive oil finish is not sufficient. What about oil/varnish mix (like danish oil). On the other end would be poly, i guess.

Glass or plexi? Tempered or laminated? Whats appropriate for a large frame?

Thanks in advance for all the help!

3 replies so far

View ChefHDAN's profile


1057 posts in 2816 days

#1 posted 11-10-2015 05:19 PM

Hello Luke, this project,

is a 72” x 60” frame, made of 5/8” poplar for the flat frame, and then 3/8” poplar for the standing frame around the flat one. The flat frame is 6” wide ad the standing frame is 4” tall. I used a French cleat at the top to simplify hanging, and the canvas is secured to the frame with canvas art clips. The back surfaces of the frame were not painted but did receive a coat of polyurethane at the final finish step.

I think your first item of concern is the value of the poster and what must be done for proper framing, if it’s valuable it will need to be properly mounted to an acid free backing and then consideration of where it will hang for the need of UV glass.

As for the other questions;
Molding size – purely aesthetic, cut different widths of scrap and look at a corner
Wood – I’d prefer hard wood, but absolutely kiln dried whichever you choose
Hanging – keep it simple, key holes are a PITA to level and align, the wire has worked for centuries
Backing see above
Joint – miter yes but design will determine if it needs splines, my dual frame had plenty of surface in the glue joint and the right angles gave rigidity
Finish – I’d avoid oils for the cure time and stick with WB finsh, see above
Glass – see above

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View Waldo88's profile


188 posts in 1263 days

#2 posted 11-10-2015 05:35 PM

The last big frame I made (28”x36”) was quite simple to make.

I used 2” (I think?) wide 4/4 walnut strips (planed smooth on all sides), routed out the rabbet for the glass, mitered them, and glued with dowels reinforcing the miter. Sanded it real good, then finished it danish oil then wax.

I just used cardboard for the backer, held in with glazing points (don’t expect to ever change out the art), and wire for a hanger (connections inset in the back).

Looks great. Trying to rout any fancy nonsense into it would only detract from the walnut. Cost about $40 in materials (walnut+glass) to make.

View AandCstyle's profile


3027 posts in 2224 days

#3 posted 11-11-2015 12:17 AM

I just completed 2 frames for mirrors. One was 28” x 42” and the other was 40” x 42”. I used 3” wide quarter sawn white oak with floating tenons. I hung them with D-rings and picture frame wire. The finish was 1 coat of water based linseed oil, 1 coat WB sanding sealer and 3 coats of WB lacquer. I suggest using non-glare glass.

This is the smaller of the two. HTH

Edit: I have no idea why the LJ software rotated the image. I apologize.

-- Art

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