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Custom-made Picture Frames
Everyone Likes a Picture Frame
The Front, Inside Edge
Choose the style of molding profile you want along the front, inside edge of your frame. Since there is only 1/4" of stock thickness left along this edge, you'll want to keep this profile within a 1/8" tolerance to leave a strong enough edge within which to hold the frame's contents. Leaving anything less will create a raggedy looking edge or none at all. The profile you choose here should remove no more than half the wood fiber from this inside edge, so it's important to choose the proper type of router bit. Bisecting the edge with, say a 1/4'' bit will leave just the right amount of stock and create an attractively dimensioned inside border for your frame. (See Illustration 2.) A cove bit or classic bit, for example, would do nicely. In working with narrow widths, always use feather boards on your router table. It saves fingers.
Front, Outside Edge
For aesthetics and eye appeal, a different edge profile works best along the front, outside edge of your frame. If you've used a bead on the inside edge, a Roman Ogee, Classic Roman, or Ogee Fillet would look nice on this outside edge. Taking away no more than half the wood fiber is a good rule for sake of both appearance and strength. (See Illustration 3.) Tip: this edge can be profiled after glue-up, which sometimes results in better looking corners.
The Back, Outside Edge (Optional)
As an option, you may want to also profile the back outside edge of your frame. To maintain structural integrity and good appearance, don't remove more than half the remaining amount of stock from this edge should you choose this option.
Miter Cut To Dimension
Once the frame members have been profiled to your liking, you can move on to cutting your miters. Use this handy formula to get the total length of each side:
Miters can be cut with a power miter saw, manually with a hand miter saw, or at your table saw with a miter gauge or miter jig set to a 45° angle (for square or rectangular frames).
Trimming to Fit
Dry fit your frame. If the frame members are cut well, they'll fit. If not, a little trimming is in order. Don't be tempted to trim cut your mitered edges, it could end up in disaster. Instead, lightly sand them to fit with a stationary disk sander or use a miter trimming tool. This will give you more control over stock removal.
Glue up your frame using a good web clamp or frame clamp. Instead of standard yellow glue, a good epoxy is best in this situation. It holds firmly against the end grain of the frame members.
Let the glue-up set until the epoxy cures.
A Decorative Option
As another option, you may want to spline the corners of your frame. This is a decorative approach to frame joinery that will be highly appreciated by your gift-giving recipient. The use of a contrasting wood for corner splines a dark wood such as walnut or mahogany can further accentuate this attractive element. A router table or table saw with a V-jig or Tenoning Jig can be used to cut accommodating slots for your splines along the outer edge of each corner. A 1/8" slot works well and leaves enough room on either side for a balanced look. Most table saw blades cut a kerf of about this size. Always cut the slots for your splines after you've profiled the edges with your router, otherwise you risk routing into your beautiful corner splines when you profile the edges.
There are many good finishing alternatives for picture frames (which will not normally need to endure a great deal of wear or stress). A good-quality oil finish will achieve a nice luster, but wax or polyurethane will also do nicely.
Now that your beautiful, hand crafted frame is complete you may have trouble giving it away. If so, you'll need to make another. But before you wrap it for Christmas, make sure to brand your signature on it with your "hand crafted by" branding iron (available at Rockler) because you'll be creating a high-quality family heirloom that will be cherished for generations.
Shopping list (available at Rockler):
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