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Making picture frames for my artist wife is a big deal around these parts. But good, milled hardwoods specifically for frames is outrageously expensive, plus you have a lot of waste due to small twists and poor milling near the ends. It can cost $40 in materials for my favorite Cherry stock.

So milling my own stock has been appealing. 3/4 to one inch stock, however, is cheaper, but doesn't leave enough room for a rabbet deep enough for a 5/8 ths canvas is a problem plus a sizable profile with some depth to it. One solution is to glue strips of pine on the back to surround the canvas. But this is not very elegant and either makes the frame stand off from the wall, or if you make the strip wide enough, then you have the problem of staining adequately.

Well, last week I had one of those head slapping realizations about milling my own stock from much less expensive rough cut.hardwood would work. First straighten one edge of 7/4 rough cut stock and use that to cut strips to a desirable dimension. Dimentions are determined by the profile and depth I want to cut on my router table.

Conventional wood prep with a planer gets a nice, flat surface. Long, straight 2x2 hardwood stock is hard to find, but say, a 3 foot by 7 or 8 inch wide chunk of long grain stock isn't all that expensive. No twists or wasted end pieces.

Then comes the out of the box thing for me, which is how you cut and view the profile. The drawing shows a simple profile, but it can be as complex as you like, you just have to leave about 3/4 for cutting the rebate. To lighten the frame up, make a diagonal cut to remove excess while leaving enough flat so the frame fits nicely against the wall. See the drawing below.

You then have a perfectly flat surface to mill combinations of coves and beads, using several bits to create a profile that fits with the picture you're framing.

Now, I know a lot of your are saying, "Duh?" but for me this is a big deal. Now all I have to do is set my dust collection up for the jointer and planer, and I'm good to go. I think the last chunk of hard maple I bought like this was about $23, but prices are now quite a bit higher, so that turns this duh moment into saving some serious money and more honey do frames completed. And there's nothing that says I can't flatten and then glue up thinner boards to get enough thickness from cheaper stock or even HD stock.

Here's a drawing of a very simple profile with the rabbet marked and a red dotted line for the table saw cut. Doesn't really matter how complex the profile because I have lots of room to cut it. And I can still add a bead or roundover the triangular edge at the top, or cut a groove for a decorative inlay.

A very wide door bit would give a much flatter face to the frame, and there are bit sets for frame makers that give you all kinds of interesting profiles to match the spirit of the painting. A simple, modern, fairly flat frame for abstract, a fanciful frame for representational and in between for still life.

Note that the flat on top of this profile would allow for a shallow grove and an inlay of some sort. And there's always gold or silver paint or even gold leaf. I don't want the frame to be more interesting than the painting.
View attachment 400919
I buy stair treads from the big box store for this kind of projects.
 
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