How to make picture frames

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Forum topic by Tedstor posted 11-24-2014 02:42 AM 1499 views 2 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1643 posts in 2599 days

11-24-2014 02:42 AM

I’d like to dabble in some high quality picture frames. Whats the best way to make them?
I’m willing to buy a gadget or two (within reason) if it’ll help me make perfect miters.
My intention is to make these as gifts. I also might make them for colleagues when they receive certificates and/or awards. That said, I’m looking to make serious good quality frames here.

How do YOU do it?

edit to add- I have a well tuned table saw and most other tools you’d expect to find in a serious(ish) amateur wood shop. I assumed some sort of high-end miter guage would be required. But I’m looking for suggestions.


12 replies so far

View 6mmBR's profile


28 posts in 1302 days

#1 posted 11-24-2014 02:51 AM

Do a search on YouTube for miter sleds. Quite a few of those guys make them, and they seem to work very well. No need to purchase a high end miter gauge at all.

Steve Ramsey makes a real easy one that cuts miters dead on for picture frames. He put some frames together and they were perfect.

View Yonak's profile


986 posts in 1488 days

#2 posted 11-24-2014 05:06 AM

Ted, my favorite way to assemble picture frames is with splines running parallel to the mitre joint. I glue and run pins through the splines from the back side. This way I find I don’t have to use clamps. Of course, the grain of the splines has to go perpendicular to the direction of the mitre.

View GerryB's profile


69 posts in 2549 days

#3 posted 11-24-2014 05:12 AM

You may want to put together a shooting board? I’ve seen miter sleds that wouldn’t need to go that far, too.

-- The pursuit of excellence is gratifying and healthy. The pursuit of perfection is frustrating, neurotic, and a terrible waste of time. Edwin Bliss

View ChefHDAN's profile


1057 posts in 2816 days

#4 posted 11-24-2014 01:21 PM

+1 for a miter sled, just finished a MONSTER frame with the sled.

The miter sled gets the most use in my shop for edgebanding etc.

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

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

597 posts in 3284 days

#5 posted 11-24-2014 01:56 PM

Another +1 on the mitre sled. You can get to a near-perfect 90 with a chuting board, but you’re nibbling away at the overall lengths of each side, and that can mess you up in the end.

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4906 posts in 3927 days

#6 posted 11-24-2014 03:30 PM

My Incra 1000SE miter gauge does all I need. Accurate and easy to set.


View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3544 days

#7 posted 11-24-2014 03:49 PM

This should do the job for you Ted

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View moke's profile


1154 posts in 2743 days

#8 posted 11-24-2014 07:14 PM

I bought a Camera Store, Framing, and Portrait Studio many moons ago, I have since closed the Camera Store and Custom framing. We have three types of saws to cut the moulding with. We had a Delta contrator saw with a shooting board….a term for a fixed 45 degree miter sled. We had what they called a chopper, which had a very sharp blade and worked similar to a paper cutter. It was dependant on how sharp the cutting blade was, but really worked pretty well unless the moulding was big. And my favorite was a hand miter saw/box set-up that was made by pro-saw. It was great and less trouble, but they all worked ok.
We had two different miter sleds…one was an inside cut, where the “V” of the set up pointed at you and the other was a commerical one made here in Iowa by Woodhaven. It was an outside cut. It was well made and really nice with clamps and such, but the inside cut one was set up so that it was much easier to see where the cut was going. It had marks fixed for 8-10-11-14-16-20…It came with the shop so I don’t know who made it, but it was awesome. But I thought the hand miter was less hassle and easier to control.
This is the one we had:

For the most part we bought moulding, but I did make some and it was really pretty easy…...
Just my .02
Good Luck

-- Mike

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2657 days

#9 posted 11-25-2014 01:15 AM

A sled dedicated to cutting 45s is worth the effort if you are making a lot of frames. That said, I really like half lap joinery for picture frames: different from the usual mitered corners, really strong, and self squaring.

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

View Tedstor's profile


1643 posts in 2599 days

#10 posted 11-25-2014 03:02 AM

One of those large, hand-operated miter saws that Moke cited would be great. Seems like most of them are $300+, which is a little more than I was willing to spend. Maybe I’ll score one off of ebay.

View ColonelTravis's profile


1756 posts in 1861 days

#11 posted 11-25-2014 05:21 AM

Getting ready to make my first frame. Thought I would miter it but then I decided to do something like this, which is a style that fits well with the print going in there (although a mirror would also look cool):

Got the inspiration from this place, they do some great stuff

View CL810's profile


3773 posts in 2955 days

#12 posted 11-25-2014 12:32 PM

Tedstor, I use a Stanley 246 miter box/saw that I picked up at a consignment shop and refurbished. Then I use a shop made 45 degree shooting board to true the miter to final fit. I also use splines.

Here's a good LJ thread about mitre boxes. A stanley 150 miter box is smaller which allows you to use shorter back saws.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

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