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[Beginner] How to build a picture frame?

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Forum topic by Trudeo posted 09-26-2016 01:36 PM 438 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Trudeo

1 post in 73 days


09-26-2016 01:36 PM

As a first project I would like to build a picture frame. The picture frame I want to build is 24”w 1”d 21”h.

I do not have a table saw and for some unknown reason I am scared of them (I know I will have to overcome this at one point if I want to pursue woodworking). So using a table saw is not an option for me at this point. I am planning to use a hand saw (with miter box) and router. I was hoping to be able to find 1” x 1” square dowel. Remove enough material with the router to be able to install the plexiglass.

- Am I approaching this project the right way?
- Where can I find 1” x 1” square dowel (it would be nice if it was walnut).
- The frame in the picture below is walnut. What kind of finish did they apply?

The frame I would like to build would be similar to the one below. Thank you for your help/comments!


11 replies so far

View Cooler's profile

Cooler

273 posts in 307 days


#1 posted 09-26-2016 01:45 PM

There are a number of “chop” service centers around the country that sell moldings mitered to size. They also offer “thumb nail” routering services for clamping the moldings while waiting for the glue to dry.

Most of these companies also offer custom mat cutting. You will have to buy the glass locally. Assemble the frame first and bring it to the glass shop and ask them to cut to fit.

The company I used 30 years ago is out of business.

If you Google “picture frame chop service” you will find many.

Here is one: http://www.supermoulding.com/moulding

You will NOT get a satisfactory miter using a hand miter saw. You would need to trim the miter after sawing. I don’t recommend that for a beginner. It is cost-effective if you are only doing a few frames to purchase the pre-finished moldings.

You can open the package from the chop service and two hours later be hanging the frame on the wall. It is how I got started in my picture framing business 30 years ago. I am out of that business now, but I can tell you that working with pre-finished moldings will make the wife happier than any molding you can make yourself.

-- This post is a hand-crafted natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar should not be viewed as flaws or defects, but rather as an integral characteristic of the creative process.

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CB_Cohick

460 posts in 715 days


#2 posted 09-26-2016 01:51 PM

Routing a one inch piece of anything would scare me more than a table saw, but they are both ferocious machines. Based on your description, I would get an 8 foot 1×3 or 1×4 piece of walnut and rout the rabbet for the glass, matt, and picture. Then I would cut the pieces to rough length, then rip those pieces to the desired 1 inch width, perhaps with a handsaw in your case. Finally, miter the ends to the finished length and glue and spline the corners together.

I haven’t built a picture frame before, but it is on my short list of things to try. The above is how I would attack it, but I look forward to hearing from folks that have built picture frames to see how they would go about it.

Good luck!

-- Chris - Would work, but I'm too busy reading about woodwork.

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Dan Wolfgang

39 posts in 272 days


#3 posted 09-28-2016 01:14 AM

First, about the table saw: depending upon what you want to do, you don’t need one. Certainly for a project like this I think you can do without it. For me, it wasn’t until I bought a table saw—thinking I needed one to get started in woodworking—that I really realized how much I didn’t enjoy using it. I much prefer hand tools.

My local hardwood store is where I would start with this project. A the place I shop, one rip cut is included with the price of the wood. I could pick a nice piece out (perhaps 5/4” thickness) and have them rip it to the 5/4” width. They are more skilled with such milling power tools and will no doubt do a great job giving me a nice 1” strip (and maybe pay to have them rip the rest, while I’m there). At home I could use a rabbet plane to make the groove for the glass and a hand saw to cut the pieces to length for the frame.

Honestly, I’m not sure how I would round the edges as you describe. As my preference is hand tools I wouldn’t bother with a router, so maybe you want to just ignore this part! I have a Stanley #55 milling plane and could use a rounded cutter to create the edge, but that plane has proven a challenge to use. Or, I could a bench or block plane to chamfer and then round over the edges. Or, I could use a rasp to remove material. Perhaps a combination of rasp and plane. Honestly, I’m a very young woodworker and have only done this a few times so am still learning… but that’s my thought process.

The miter saw will get you a roughly-correct cut, but it won’t fit tight. I’d put it on the shooting board to do the final fitting.

View McFly's profile

McFly

188 posts in 491 days


#4 posted 09-28-2016 11:52 AM

If you do not have a table router, with regard to routing out the area for your glass:
Make sure to make a template where you can rest your router’s baseplate while you’re cutting. I tried adding a 1/2” round over to 5/4 stock on edge (going for a bullnose look) and the end of the first one where the router was unsupported looked like it was cut by an angry beaver on meth. Almost ruined the whole dang project.

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JBrow

818 posts in 384 days


#5 posted 09-28-2016 01:43 PM

Trudeo,

If you change your design a bit, foregoing mitred joints and making the frame 1-1/2” deep, the project could be built with your skill set and available tools without much of a problem.

With no ability to mill lumber, buying hardwood lumber that has already been dimensioned would allow you to choose poplar, red oak, and perhaps maple (depends on the home center). This dimensioned hardwood is available in various lengths and standard widths; including 1-1/2”, 2-1/2”, and 3-1/2”. It is all ¾” thick. I have not seen walnut at the home center.

The frame could consist of two frames, one 1-1/2” smaller in both width and height from the other. These two frames could then be face glued together. Face gluing one frame to the other would require a number of clamps and some cauls to get a good glue line. Since end grain glue joints are weak, the sides on one frame overlapping the top and bottom of the second frame would create a half lap joint at the corners. The offset creates a rabbet inside the frame where the glass, picture, and backer can set. Some figure eight table top fasteners could be used to hold the glass etc. in the frame. The inside and outside edges can be routed to suit your taste The inside edges could be routed after assembly or stopped profiles if routed before assembly; to keep the shoulders of the joints square.

View Cooler's profile

Cooler

273 posts in 307 days


#6 posted 09-28-2016 02:35 PM

I still say that the only way a beginner is going to turn out professional grade picture frames that will satisfy his wife and himself will be to buy “chops” (pre-mitered pieces) from a chop service and assemble the frame himself. It is fast, easy and the results will rival any custom picture framing shop.

All other efforts will fall short.

-- This post is a hand-crafted natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar should not be viewed as flaws or defects, but rather as an integral characteristic of the creative process.

View Pakdwood's profile

Pakdwood

12 posts in 71 days


#7 posted 09-28-2016 09:35 PM

How funny, i’m also a beginner and JUST made a walnut frame just like you pictured, even with the white border mat. however, i used a table saw, a miter saw and a router.

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Pakdwood

12 posts in 71 days


#8 posted 09-28-2016 09:36 PM

also, i recommend finding the glass before deciding on the frame size. It’s easier to fit the frame to fit the glass than it is to find custom glass.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile (online now)

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13733 posts in 2083 days


#9 posted 09-29-2016 08:01 PM


I still say that the only way a beginner is going to turn out professional grade picture frames that will satisfy his wife and himself will be to buy “chops” (pre-mitered pieces) from a chop service and assemble the frame himself…

All other efforts will fall short.

- Cooler

At this point, I have more respect for a beginning woodworker that wants to build something useful than the seasoned professional who says, in effect, ‘Don’t Bother, you’ll Suck at it.’ As far as ‘how to’ suggestions, I agree with CB_Cohick’s comment above on a very reasonable approach given the tools you have. The ripped pieces are going to have some pretty severe saw marks to remove though. Got a sharp block plane? It’s that, or a bunch of sandpaper of varying grits. Good luck!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

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Cooler

273 posts in 307 days


#10 posted 09-29-2016 08:15 PM


I still say that the only way a beginner is going to turn out professional grade picture frames that will satisfy his wife and himself will be to buy “chops” (pre-mitered pieces) from a chop service and assemble the frame himself…

All other efforts will fall short.

- Cooler

At this point, I have more respect for a beginning woodworker that wants to build something useful than the seasoned professional who says, in effect, Don t Bother, you ll Suck at it. As far as how to suggestions, I agree with CBCohick s comment above on a very reasonable approach given the tools you have. The ripped pieces are going to have some pretty severe saw marks to remove though. Got a sharp block plane? It s that, or a bunch of sandpaper of varying grits. Good luck!

- SmittyCabinetshop

With the exception that your wife likes the idea that you made the effort to build a picture frame for her, I guarantee that given the choice between a woodworkers finest efforts and a high end pre-finished frame molding, 99 out of 100 times she would pick the pre-finished molding.

Your wife wants to pick something like this: http://orisonsart.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Orisons-Art-Mckinney-Texas-002.jpg

And you are offering something like this: http://www.aquabumps.com/wp-content/themes/aquabumps/images/Frame-SIMPLE-RAW.jpg

-- This post is a hand-crafted natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar should not be viewed as flaws or defects, but rather as an integral characteristic of the creative process.

View jar944's profile

jar944

88 posts in 902 days


#11 posted 09-30-2016 01:45 AM

Op, what tools do you have besides a handsaw and router?

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