Picture Rail

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Forum topic by tyskkvinna posted 07-30-2012 09:31 PM 3139 views 0 times favorited 35 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1310 posts in 2024 days

07-30-2012 09:31 PM

I am going to be installing some picture rail in a house—a fair amount of it, let’s say six rooms. I’ve looked up the picture rail online and it is fairly expensive—average price I found was $15/8’ length… and it is SPF. I would prefer a hardwood, maybe even a kind of cool looking hardwood…

Having trouble finding the appropriate router bits for such a thing. Any suggestions? I don’t mind spending the cash to get a nice one (or nice set, I assume it will be a multi-pass operation) because I think I will be able to use the bits for other things later, as well.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

35 replies so far

View MT_Stringer's profile


2602 posts in 2269 days

#1 posted 07-30-2012 09:37 PM

Do you mean chair rail?

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View chewbuddy13's profile


150 posts in 2323 days

#2 posted 07-30-2012 09:49 PM

Try looking for multi-profile bits, they give you many options for different mouldings.

View Alexandre's profile


1417 posts in 1229 days

#3 posted 07-30-2012 09:49 PM

How about a Wood Master?
Spend about $3000 and some really good knives, that tool would be your planer, drum sander, molder and gang rip saw?

-- My terrible signature...

View Alexandre's profile


1417 posts in 1229 days

#4 posted 07-30-2012 09:50 PM

Or, just get a router bit(s) custom made for you….

-- My terrible signature...

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2024 days

#5 posted 07-30-2012 09:53 PM

No, I mean picture rail—the thing you hang at the top of the room that you will then hang picture frames from. I intend to use it as such, so it will need to actually hold (a little) weight.

If I don’t find anything that will work I fully intend to throw the rough cut wood in my CNC sheet router and do something crazy. ;) but that will take a lot of time and is gross overkill.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View DS's profile


2141 posts in 1458 days

#6 posted 07-30-2012 09:54 PM

Check with a local molding house. Even if your profile is not standard, if you have enough lineal feet, they will charge only a nominal knife setup fee.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View ITnerd's profile


262 posts in 1637 days

#7 posted 07-30-2012 09:54 PM

Lis, this is a bit out of my day to day, but I think most of those larger profiles would fall under the molder/shaper head category. That said, if you were willing to piece together a couple of bits to get a cool end shape, here’s a couple of sets I’ve found.

If you wanted a deep cove as part of it, I’d probably recommend using this type of setup with your table saw, or cheating Brian Havens style. This would save you from making 4 gazillion passes on your router table.

I recall reading somewhere that you have some very cool equipment in your shop – if you have a tilting router table, and are willing to grind off some bearing heads from cheaper bits, check out what Matthias Wandel did.

Best of luck, I’ve enjoyed all your project postings so far, please let us know how it turns out.

-- Chris @ Atlanta - JGM - Occam's razor tells us that when you hear hoofs, think horses not zebras.

View cabmaker's profile


1399 posts in 1847 days

#8 posted 07-30-2012 09:56 PM

Sounds a little pricey for picture rail in a paint grade. I can get it for approx. 1.00 lf here (north texas). Pretty easy to run though. Three cutters will do it. 3/4 bd., 3/4 flute and panel raiser would be the likely combo to get a profile your after

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David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2036 days

#9 posted 07-30-2012 10:09 PM

Not knowing what is available to you locally, I would guess you are not looking in the right type of place. I would go for a molding shop that also does custom staircases. There are some cool staircase banister bases that you could probably use for picture rail. Are you looking for the profile that has the big bead on top for the clips? That might be a bit harder since it is a specialty profile. You could also take a couple passes with a roundover bit on a nice piece of crown molding.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 2107 days

#10 posted 07-30-2012 10:19 PM

How ornate do you want the rail to be? They aren’t commonly used around here, but those that I’ve seen were pretty simple. Pieces of flat stock – sometimes with an edge detail. People I’ve talked to say that the picture rail should be unobrusive so it doesn’t clash with an ornate picture frame.

You can make some pretty neat profiles with just a table saw and a router.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 2347 days

#11 posted 07-30-2012 10:21 PM

I put picture hanging moulding all throughout my house and paid about 55 cents a linear foot for it in cypress. Iit is quite common here in Louisiana in the houses with taller ceilings. I bought it at a local lumberyard and they had lengths up to 16 ft.

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2024 days

#12 posted 07-30-2012 10:22 PM

The rest of the house has very ornate woodworking details so I want to go a little fancy. Very open to what, though.

David – yes, precisely.

I will look into these suggestions!

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View DKV's profile


3868 posts in 1542 days

#13 posted 07-30-2012 10:42 PM

Thanks Lis, I learn something new everyday.

A picture rail is a type of molding that runs horizontally across the walls of a room, level with the top of the door frame. The rail provides a way to hang pictures instantly, and without putting holes in the walls. The hanging itself it accomplished by an accessory called a “picture rail hook,” usually made of metal, which has an arm that hangs over the top of the rail. A second arm extends down in front of the rail to provide a hook to hang the picture.Originating in the 15th century, picture rails peaked in popularity in the late 19th century, when it was fashionable to have rooms full of hanging pictures and knick-knacks. Oftentimes during this period, the picture rail would be nearly invisible, buried beneath a solid line of portraits and paintings lining the walls. In the 1990s, a resurgence of interest in period decorating brought the product back into the decorating magazines. In modern homes, it is usually used as a decorative accent to the crown molding and chair rail rather than as a functional fixture.

-- This is a Troll Free zone.

View Gary's profile


1115 posts in 3362 days

#14 posted 07-30-2012 10:42 PM

My wife wanted picture rail in our bedroom so I made it out of Black Walnut to match the other work I was doing.
Some of the project is documented here:
I bought some router bits and it went pretty quickly.
If you need more details or want to discuss it, let me know.

-- Gary, Florida.

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2024 days

#15 posted 07-30-2012 10:53 PM

Gary – I actually found your project while I researched before making a post. Yours made me think that perhaps Walnut would be a good idea! :)

DKV – My house has pretty tall ceilings (13’ I think) so the rails are up at the top, not by the door. This means that they can be bigger and make sense, visually. I think little tiny rails would look out of place. Also, since the house is old, it won’t be just for looks. Not interested in plowing through that plaster and lathe just to hang a couple of pictures….

-- Lis - Michigan - -

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