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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Tool: Dewalt 82829 15' band clamp
Reviewer: bill edgington
Tool Rating: 10

- lets preface this review by saying I hate making picture frames. Only as a last resort will I agree to make one.

- having said that, I have your usual selection of many clamps of various sizes, some big band box ratchet clamps (cabinet boxes) and an assortment of smaller specialty clamps. I have no clamps that are really suitable for easily making picture frames.

- I recently had a requirement to make some frames that were 4 1/2" square overall and dreaded even trying to get them clamped. Enter the Dewalt 83839 band clamp. I love this thing. Its dead easy to use, tensions easily with precision and can be adjusted and re-adjusted simply by twisting the handle. It has two flip-lock cams to set the overall length of the band and the tension in the band is then taken up or released simply by using the handle. Need more band, flip the lock, feed some more band, lock it down and then tighten the band with the handle while fiddling with the frame. It is adjustable from about a 2" sq to say about 3' x 4' <limited by the provided strap to 15'>. I have not noticed any marks in the frame from the corner brackets but I expect that you could dent soft wood if you went all gorilla on tightening it.

- if you are stuck with making occasional picture frames you may want to consider adding one of these to your kit. I paid less than 20$ for it at my local big orange box store and highly recommend it. I can also see it may have some use for small boxes and who knows what all ......

- ebill

https://www.homedepot.com/p/DEWALT-15-ft-Band-Clamp-DWHT83839/303418630
 

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I'm supposed to make frames for my wife's art work, and even though I have tools especially for that purpose, the final clamping is always an tricky process that isn't any fun. One thing that has really helped is the Lyon style miter trimmer. It is accurate to within maybe 2/1000ths on its trim. I have worked out the glue up pretty well, but clamping is really tricky. I try not to use very much glue, just enough to tack it together. I almost always either glue a backer on that is like a rail and style, or after assembly using a variety of clamping methods, I'll cut splines in the lightly glued corners of hardwood frames. I have yet to use my band clamp, but I will now, thanks to your review. I have a band clamp set with corner pieces to hold them square, but I often use a large square to hold the one corner square, which helps all the others.

Thanks for the review.

I spent a lot of effort working out how to get perfect miters. The trimmer gets it down just about perfect, but I use a filler to close up any tiny gaps.

I'm curious about how you cut and prep your frames?

Here are a couple of pictures of the miter trimmer and filler that really work for frames The filler holds stain and disappears during finishing. The third item is of the shaped sanding blocks that have really made finishing faster and easier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm curious about how you cut and prep your frames?
- step 1 > try not to get coerced into making frames !

- if step 1 fails, my tools would seem like a cave man method compared to yours. I have an old Craftsman double bevel miter saw. It has been tuned via a Wixey gauge to be dead on. Don't trust the factory as even a .0x" off will make your joints fussy. I also have a good Freud blade in it for 'fuzzy-less' (tech term <g>) and super clean cuts. Aside from that, nothing special. But I have learned that if your pieces are not the exact same length <sq frame> or the same for sides and same for top/btm <rectangular frame> you are not going to have joints that match up.

- I normally keep fussing with it until the do all match and I don't need filler or at worst a little sawdust and glue wipe on the joint. I have a PC profile sander which I can use as necessary but try to make mostly simple profile frames from material I normally rout to fit the purpose and hand sand. I like the idea of splines but have never attempted them.

- we probably have some amongst this group that have mastered frames and maybe we can get some more "frame making" input ?

- ebill
 

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You're right about the lengths being exact on opposite sides, top and bottom. The Lyon trimmer makes that much easier because I can shave off almost paper thin slices. It comes with a couple of wings with a stop, but it's too short for the size paintings my wife normally does. The pix is my favorite two-tone frame, which is pine.

I no longer sand beyond 220, and only use that flexible 3M sanding medium anymore. Lasts forever and produces a scratch free surface that takes stain and finish really well. The filler is the best I've ever tried, get it on Amazon in the color of the wood I'm using. I found a really nice shaped molding in Cherry that I like using. It makes a thin frame that normally assembles with the thin edge on the outside, but by cutting some thin but wide strips and gluing it into the rabbet that holds the painting, I can have the thin edge in, which I really prefer. Comes in several types of wood and there is a narrow and wide version. It makes a thin frame, but you can add to it to make it wider.

My wife did a post-industrial painting of a muddy tidal flat with an amazing stormy sky above that really works best with a narrow, non intrusive frame. This is my favorite of her paintings. I'm just beginning to make frames with shaped trim set into shallow dados on the stock. Rope, and lots of other shapes on these half to 5/8ths milled strips. You can finish their tops in a different finish than the main frame, glue them in and you get spectacular looking results. The last picture are the milled strips I got at HD.

I generally finish my frames with a water based stain, often several thin coats with just a touch of sanding at the end, and wipe on poly. For two tone frames, I use green painter's tape to mask the lighter area. I bought a bunch of disposable brushes for gluing and finishing, but also sometimes just use a paper towel for the poly.

I have to admit that once I get started, I do enjoy the precision technique aspect of the task.
 

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