build frame out of 1x3's

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Forum topic by Sleighbor posted 07-13-2012 03:42 PM 4509 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Sleighbor's profile


5 posts in 2475 days

07-13-2012 03:42 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Hey guys,

Looking for some advice. I want to construct a DJ booth facade. The panels are essentially like picture frames made out of 1×3” pine. I am going with 1×3 to keep it light. I could just miter the corners but I want to be sure the frame is strong. It will get handled a lot, getting thrown in and out of the back of a van. I am looking for suggestions on building strong joints that an amateur can handle making easily and hopefully quickly.

Thanks for your help.

25 replies so far

View chrisstef's profile


15456 posts in 2424 days

#1 posted 07-13-2012 04:06 PM

You could use biscuits in the miter to strengthen the joint. Id be a little worried about 1×3’s twisting up on you though. I might go with a glued and pegged half lap. How big of panels are you talkin? Are they filled in inside the frame?

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 1905 days

#2 posted 07-13-2012 04:09 PM

I would make your miter joints so it looks nice and screw a piece behind the visible side across the miter to give it lots of strength.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Gary's profile


8965 posts in 2851 days

#3 posted 07-13-2012 04:11 PM

Half lap the dang things with a thru-pin It’ll be strong and look good too

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View bondogaposis's profile


3969 posts in 1769 days

#4 posted 07-13-2012 04:13 PM

Yeah, half lap is the way to go, very strong compared to mitered corners.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Sleighbor's profile


5 posts in 2475 days

#5 posted 07-13-2012 05:46 PM

Ok, so half lap seems to be the way to go. There will be nothing in the middle, just fabric. I would assume a table saw is the best and easiest way to make the cut? I’ll have to pick up a cheap one. Also, the thru pin – is that just a dowel or two?

Thanks for the great responses guys.


View SnowyRiver's profile


51452 posts in 2898 days

#6 posted 07-14-2012 03:10 AM

Pocket joinery would work good too.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View BentheViking's profile


1763 posts in 1982 days

#7 posted 07-14-2012 03:35 AM

Half lap would be easy to do, certainly a table saw might be the easiest way to do it, but like anything else there are many ways to skin a cat. Miter saw or hand saw to slit the lap, then bust up the chunks and chisel/plane it smooth. Router. I’m sure there are other ways to do it as well, but if your just starting out a half lap might be the easiest

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View NiteWalker's profile


2735 posts in 1995 days

#8 posted 07-14-2012 03:40 AM

Normally I’d say pocket screws, but for pine (because it’s a soft wood) and because it will be a hard use item, half laps are definitely the way to go. I’d probably go as far as adding 2 or 3 5/8” screws to the bottom of each joint.

Half laps are done easily on the table saw or even with a router.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Sleighbor's profile


5 posts in 2475 days

#9 posted 07-14-2012 03:56 PM


I own a router. My wife bought me one last year. Only used it once. How would I go about cutting a half lap with a router?

Thank you

View chrisstef's profile


15456 posts in 2424 days

#10 posted 07-14-2012 04:03 PM

i would stack all four boards together edge to edge and clamped to a table. Then lay out the half lap on the ends of the boards at either end. The lap will be as long as the width of the board. Clamp a “fence” board on top of the 4 frame pieces so that the edge of your router will ride against it. Set your depth to half of the thickness of the frame pieces and route out the waste.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View EPJartisan's profile


1116 posts in 2543 days

#11 posted 07-14-2012 04:17 PM

Nice. Router is most likely the easiest (well hand saw would be the easiest) for ya. A 1/2” plunge bit with a top beariing, a simple jig to hold the piece flat and stable and clamp a board at 45 degrees to guide the router for the miter…. And clamp the board perpendicular for the top laps. A Porter Cable router was one of my first power tools, and I did this a lot for lap joints. But then I did a few jobs where there was no electric, so I practiced using a dozuki pull saw. Now… By the time you clamp the jig.. I will have finished cutting the laps already. But then I am a hand tool guy… I was taught if you know what your hands do… You know what the power tool is supposed to do.

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 2486 days

#12 posted 07-14-2012 04:24 PM

However you do the corners, triangular gussets will add a great deal of strength/

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View JJohnston's profile


1614 posts in 2709 days

#13 posted 07-14-2012 04:29 PM

Here’s a recent post showing the kind of straight-line jig you can use with the method described by chrisstef. This jig doesn’t require a bit with a guide bearing.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View NiteWalker's profile


2735 posts in 1995 days

#14 posted 07-14-2012 10:53 PM

What Chrisstef and JJohnston said.

Chrisstef’s is the method I’d use with a jig as JJohnston linked to.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Ted's profile


2785 posts in 1629 days

#15 posted 07-14-2012 11:43 PM

Unless you have a 3-1/4 horse power router and a $65 carbide up-cutting router bit, you are going to burn your way through the wood after the first few inches. Also, making a jig for this single use will take more time and wood than one could justify.

Do yourself a favor and invest in a tool you will use again and again… a circular saw. Buy a good carbide blade to go with it, as the one that comes with it is probably junk.

Line up the boards like chrisstef suggests, edge to edge with the ends lined up, but then do it a little different. Clamp (or screw) a straight edge (any straight piece of wood will do) positioned so the blade will meet the line you drew 2-1/2” in from the ends. Oh yeah… draw a line 2-1/2” from the ends, or however wide your pieces of wood are.

Note that the straight edge will not be ON the line, it will be however far from the line that your blade is from the edge of the sole plate on the saw.

Set the cutting depth of the saw blade to 1/2 the thickness of the wood, which should be about 3/4” deep. Make a series of cuts about 1/4” apart. They don’t have to be perfectly straight, as long as the last cut you make at the line you drew is straight, which it should be because that’s what the straight edge is for. After making your series of cuts, take a hammer or block of wood or a shoe.. whatever works, and knock off the wafers that resulted from the series of cuts.

Unclamp (or unscrew) the straight edge, and use a rasp to smooth down the inside of the cuts, because the wafers are not going to snap off evenly. Oh yeah.. you’re going to need a rasp, but again, it’s a tool you will probably use again.

Fit the pieces together to make sure they align the way you want them to. Rasp a little more if you have to. If you took too much wood out, go back to the line where I said to adjust the depth of the blade, slap yourself on the forehead and say D’oh! in your best Homer Simpson manner.

Once you are satisfied that the pieces fit the way you want them to, glue them together with Titebond II woodworking glue. Oh yeah, you’re going to need some Titebond II woodworking glue. Don’t worry, you’ll use it again for other stuff. Drive one screw into each corner, pulling the wood tightly together.

Pre-drill before driving the screws so you don’t split the wood.

Now, quickly, before the glue sets up, and it sets up pretty fast… measure diagonally top left to bottom right, and top right to bottom left, to make sure they are exactly the same. That is how you will know the frame is square. Push and/or pull it into square if it’s not. Making sure it stays square, then drive a couple more screws into each corner. Don’t forget to pre-drill so you don’t split the wood.

Anyway, for what you’re doing, that’s what I would do. Note that Titebond II or similar wood glue will be way stronger than any screws, dowels, pegs, nails or anything else. Once it’s cured for 24 hours, you will literally have to break the wood to get those joints apart.

EDIT: I just noticed you said 1×3s.. I thought you said 2×3s. Everything I said but make the cuts 3/8” deep, not 3/4.

-- The first cordless tool was a stick. The first power tool was a rock.

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