Novice and mitered bridle joints

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Forum topic by sixminus1 posted 12-16-2013 04:46 PM 2286 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1885 days

12-16-2013 04:46 PM

Topic tags/keywords: oak joining bridle miter beginner

Hi All, I have been lurking on the forums for a while, but just decided to post with my first “real” woodworking success story.

I have been attempting picture frames that are 12”W x 36”H. When it came time to join the mitered corners, it was just not working. I ended up going with splined miters for frame #1 because I was already committed to full miter cuts after a failed end-grain glue-up. That worked OK, but it was messy lining up the joints, and my strap clamp didn’t work very well with the splines, so I had to use miter dogs with 2 c-clamps and a bar clamp on each corner! It took forever, and it was frustrating. I like the frame’s “rustic” look, but at the same time I feel like throwing it in the wood stove just to get back at it.

For frame #2, I decided to find miters that would glue up with my strap clamp, and not require splines. I decided on mitered bridle joints. After 6 hours measuring, testing, building jigs, failing, and cursing (in no particular order), I got ONE test joint that looked precise enough.

I now had an example piece to work from so I wouldn’t get (as) confused with the second frame. This example piece is staying in the shop for when I inevitably forget how to do this in the future.

All four joints, and all the routing for the second frame took 4 hours. Major difference once I felt like I knew what I was doing. Sorry, I don’t have a picture of it yet.

Lessons learned:

  • This stuff can be a lot more frightening than I ever imagined
  • End-grain sucks (literally sucks up the glue)
  • Work systematically
  • Cut the mortises and miters before routing the rabbet or doing any edge routing
  • Sneak up on the mortise, and the routing
  • Test, test, test
  • Even a crappy table saw can be your friend if you take your time
  • Be brave

Anyway, just wanted to share my (small) joinery success story. It’s amazing how much there is to say about one silly project like this! Thanks for reading.

2 replies so far

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2715 days

#1 posted 12-17-2013 02:08 AM

Half lap joinery is a very strong, self squaring joint for picture frames. And any kind of clamp will work (I use C clamps)

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View sixminus1's profile


2 posts in 1885 days

#2 posted 12-17-2013 03:34 AM

Yeah, I found that out – seems the joints I decided on are a combination of miters, half laps, and bridles. I wanted to stick with the mitered look so both of the frames matched (from the front view). The glue up was infinitely easier. Maybe next time I’ll just relax and go with true half laps… I built a table saw sled along the way anyway, so I’m just a stop-block away from churning a bunch of them out.

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