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Hey y'all, name's Greg and found this forum while I was doing research on Routers & Router Tables for a project I had in mind (picture frames to start off with - have a few more ideas as well).

I've accumulated many photos and posters over the years. Some of which are odd-shaped, which means the standard picture frames you find won't fit. Found a custom frame-shop and to put it kindly, the prices I was quoted, they can shove it where the sun don't shine.

Figured I could build the frames myself and justify the cost of what I'm spending on equipment. Dangerous words eh? While the Incra table seemed to be much more expensive, once I added up a few more enhancements, then the cost didn't seem so bad after all. Plus what I save on making frames easily pays for this.

Figured might as well start at the top and not have to upgrade in the future but work more towards learning how to utilize the Incra system. 7-9 week wait for delivery (ugh).

Look forward to learning with y'all.
 

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Welcome Greg. Price was what prompted me to make my own to. I rigged up a horizontal router setup and found it to be very handy for making frames. It allowed me to work below the bit or above the bit and from the side so it gives more options. Plus by working with the bit on top the flat back stayed on the table which made the piece more stable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Welcome Greg. Price was what prompted me to make my own to. I rigged up a horizontal router setup and found it to be very handy for making frames. It allowed me to work below the bit or above the bit and from the side so it gives more options. Plus by working with the bit on top the flat back stayed on the table which made the piece more stable.
Agree you could build your own 'rig'. Do you have a write-up on your work/photos? Right now just trying to absorb all the info I can.
 

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Welcome to the forum Greg.
 

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Welcome Greg. While I think making our own stuff is great keep in mind that at some point you'll look back and maybe realize the custom work, if truly done well and with good materials, might not have been as bad as it sounded. Keep in mind that business is in the business of making a profit and the work can be very time consuming. After all they have rent, material costs, machine/tools cost, electrical expenses, and salaries to pay. Now if it sounds like I'm saying your "route" is wrong, you couldn't be more wrong. It's the tatic I like to use when I need to justify to myself or much better half the cost of a new toy....ugh.. I mean tool.

As far as plans for a router table I suggest something along the lines of this Now keep in mind mine has the cabinet build but I bought the phenolic top and Woodpeckers Super Fence, then later added the Micro Adjuster. For a bit of show and tell look here and here

Good luck with the picture frame making.
 

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Welcome Greg,

Frames are nice projects and you can use all your creativity and imagination. Enjoy
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Welcome Greg. While I think making our own stuff is great keep in mind that at some point you'll look back and maybe realize the custom work, if truly done well and with good materials, might not have been as bad as it sounded. Keep in mind that business is in the business of making a profit and the work can be very time consuming. After all they have rent, material costs, machine/tools cost, electrical expenses, and salaries to pay. Now if it sounds like I'm saying your "route" is wrong, you couldn't be more wrong. It's the tatic I like to use when I need to justify to myself or much better half the cost of a new toy....ugh.. I mean tool.
Understood on overhead. Just couldn't stomach the prices quoted and knowing that I have at least 20 pictures to mount. ($200 x 20 = $4000).

I might actually spend $3000 when all is said and done, but that's still a $1000 savings and the equipment is mine to keep....forever. :grin:
 

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Welcome aboard Greg. My wife is an artist so I build a lot of frames. I struggled with it for some time before learning about the Lion Miter Trimmer, pix below. This tool was first devised somewhere in the 1880-90s. Cutting perfect 45 degree miters with both short and long parts of the frame being exactly the same length was a losing deal untill I found one made by Grizzly, https://www.amazon.com/Grizzly-G169...&qid=1539901215&sr=8-1&keywords=Miter+Trimmer $200 on Amazon.

Technology Antenna Tool

The cost is more for the identical tool from other brands. There's a couple of outrigger legs for it that are extra, but the mounting system for them is really chincy, and I don't use them. You cut a good 45 degree miter on a saw, with the piece about 1/8 th inch longer than the final size, then use the trimmer to shave off about 1/16th from each end. The stop on the base is EXACTLY 45 degrees. This picture is of another brand, but all brands are probably made in the same factory.

Tool

I think you can see from the picture how you hold the piece. Rather than using the arms with a stop, I just compart the lengths of the pairs of pieces to make sure they are the exact same length. You want them to be as close to exact as you can get, although there is perhaps a few thousandths margin of error. What you get is a glass smooth, perfectly cut miter. You can also use the trimmer to get an exact 90, but I don't use it much for that purpose, on faceframes, for example. Be very careful to only lift this tool by the small handle on front. If you grip it wrong, you could easily slice off a finger. I keep the shipping block for the installed blade in place at all times. And I mounted it on a sheet of ply with two heavy handles so I can move it around safely. Be careful!!!

Next comes fitting the corners together. There are many ways to do this, but I often wind up simply gluing the pieces on the ends lightly and mostly on the bottom edge to avoid squeeze out, which will not take the finish. I usually reinforce the glued up corners with a 1/8th thick spline. You need to make a simple spline jig to hold the frame in place as you cut a 1/8th inch slot across the corner of the frame. I use metal corner clamps for the most part. You pinch them closed with a small tool and they hold the frame in place. There are all kinds of braces and jigs to make sure the corners are square, but if your 45 miter is true, you may find you don't really need them. Sometimes I use an accurate square to line them up. You can also use a band clamp to hold them while glue sets. The Collins Spring Clamp tool is in the picture at the very bottom.

Product Joint Material property Chemical compound Paint

Next comes a very important pre finishing step, filling and sanding the corners. First, my secret weapon for filling is an Aussie product you can order on Amazon, TimberMate. It is available to match most woods, sands perfectly, doesn't shrink even in the tiniest of cracks or joints. I've tried many other fillers, but this one is the very best.

Font Material property

I no longer use ordinary sandpaper. I by far prefer the new 3M sanding sheets, which are flexible, almost rubbery. They last forever, and at 220 grit produce a very smooth surface. I no longer sand up to the 320 grit. The best part is that this stuff wraps around the shapes and stays in place on a set of sanding blocks:



These are Rockler Contour Sanding Grips, and they work in combination with the 3M sanding medium. They make it very easy to sand a frame, including where raised or recessed shapes come together at the miter corner. Using ordinary sandpaper, it is very easy to flatten an area before you realize it, and that will show up badly with a finish. You can see the inverted area to take care of the rounded areas, but you can also hold sanding medium in place on the other end to sand recessed areas. You match the grip size to the curve you're sanding. I also find it easy to use this for very minor twists (no such thing as perfectly flat frame material). These show up as a curve on one side of the joint being higher than the other side. I just sand these lightly until they match and look right. I wouldn't consider making a frame without these babies. About $15 per set. They also have flat/triangular shaped grips as well. I have and use both all the time. https://www.rockler.com/rockler-contour-sanding-grips-2

For finish, what I use most often is Minwax water based stain and usually a few light coats of wipe on poly, sometimes gloss, sometimes not. The harder the wood, the smoother the surface, and the more likely I'll use gloss.

Making your own frame materials is possible and not really that hard to do. But way beyond what I'm going to cover here. Finally, here's that Collins clamp tool so you can see how it works. It leaves a small dimple, but it usally gets removed when I cut the spline.
 

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Holy Cow, I forgot a couple of things. When selecting material for frames, I am meticulous about looking for any curves, twists, gouges, splits or odd changes in color or grain. Fussy Fussy Fussy. Where I buy lumber you have to buy the full length pieces, so If a frame is going to require 8 ft of material, I always buy 16 feet, especially when I first started making them. Depending on the shape of the profile and other factors (inattention), it is easy to cut the wrong angle or on the wrong side, or have to replace a side for one reason or another. Or there could be a slight twist you just didn't notice. For me, its a LONG drive down the hill and back to buy wood. Costs about as much in gas as the extra piece would.

My favorite frames are made of cherry, but I also make a lot of them with pine. Not every painting justifies $40-$50 worth of hardwood. If you make your own, there's some trim material you can use that comes from HD or Lowes.

If you want to make your own stock, you can start with a 5/4 or so thick piece of stock with clear grain, no knots. You can use 3/4 stock if it's extremely flat. But you won't be able to cut much of a rabbet in it to hold your art. But you can glue a thin strip on to increase the depth of the rabbet to allow for the thickness of the art. I do that a lot.

You can buy router bit sets just for the purpose of making framing material in almost any kind of wood. Joint and plane it first! . You can cut coves with your router, or table saw. You can buy decorative trim (see pix) that you either glue on, or preferably cut a light groove and glue it in the recess. So many ways to make your own stock.
 

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Welcome aboard Greg. My wife is an artist so I build a lot of frames. I struggled with it for some time before learning about the Lion Miter Trimmer, pix below. This tool was first devised somewhere in the 1880-90s. Cutting perfect 45 degree miters with both short and long parts of the frame being exactly the same length was a losing deal untill I found one made by Grizzly, https://www.amazon.com/Grizzly-G169...&qid=1539901215&sr=8-1&keywords=Miter+Trimmer $200 on Amazon.

View attachment 360977

Making your own frame materials is possible and not really that hard to do. But way beyond what I'm going to cover here. Finally, here's that Collins clamp tool so you can see how it works. It leaves a small dimple, but it usally gets removed when I cut the spline.
Update: I finally got the INCRA router-table set up and have made my first cuts along with a frame that will pass at the hobbyist level, however isn't near professional quality. Much time was spent on the miter-saw to true-up the 45 degree cuts. Still ended up with a tiny bit of slop (1/32") on a single corner with the other three corners being a tight fit. Have no doubt I can get all 4 corners aligned beautifully in the near future.

With that said, I was astounded at the amount of sawdust created by my Miter Saw. Really disappointing considering the RT is about as clean as clean can be.

Have two Miter Saws, one is a 15+ YO craftsman fixed miter, the other is a relatively new Kobalt sliding miter. Also have an cheap TS purchased 10+ years ago. All 3 spew like there's no tomorrow....

So how do I get my 45's without creating a bunch of dust?

One suggestion my brother had was to get a true 45 (Incra Miter Edition) and use a straight bit to cut my 45s. This sounds really good to me as I know the RT is capable of running very cleanly. However before I drop $200 on another tool, I wanted to figure out if there are clean alternatives to my Miter Saws. Would consider selling both Miter Saws and using funds + a few more to purchase a clean model if there is one. Or am I better off using the RT with a Miter Gauge?

The primary drawback to the RT + straight bit may be the depth of cut (e.g. max 2")

As always your feedback is appreciated!
 
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