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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello!
I have a router and about to DIY routing table. I am no more buying picture frames in 2023!
I appreciate if someone can mentor me... What would be the first bits set that I should own?

Whats next?!
 

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Hello!
I have a router and about to DIY routing table. I am no more buying picture frames in 2023!
I appreciate if someone can mentor me... What would be the first bits set that I should own?

Whats next?!
Well making your own frames can be very rewarding and I know you will become very good at it. First and maybe the most important thing to picture frames is that the 45 degree angles on every corner fit tight meaning no gaps. There are many ways to cut the 45"s, a miter saw either hand tool or power tool or a table saw sled set at 45. All of those can be exacted by their self or can be trimmed up with a miter trimmer. I would first focus on getting your frames to fit tight and then move on to adding the design on the frame and the rabbet on the back inner side for the photo/glass and back.

Here's a link to some router bits for picture frames. There is one specifically for cutting the rabbets even though you can achieve the same with straight cut bits. Then there are many edge forming bits to choose from. Some people use 2 or more bits to create the look they want. It all depends on what you prefer.

MLCS does not sell the top of the line router bits but what ever brand you choose make sure the shaft is 1/2" not 1/4"

Good luck, keep us posted and most importantly be safe!
 

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Ah, you have hit my sweet spot. I make frames for my wife. The biggest thing is getting the mitered corners to be perfect 45s. The slightest bit over or under will prevent the frame from going together correctly.

I tried doing this on a really good sliding miter saw, but as good as it is, it's not perfect. So my wife bought me a Lyon Miter Trimmer. Pix. This thing was invented sometime in the 1880s and you'll find one in most professional framing shops, or a similar tools by other makers.
Tool Machine Auto part Composite material Event


This beast (Grizzly) is machined to trim off maybe 1/16th inch off the end to a perfect 45. You can also do this on a table saw with a really precise miter gauge. Mine is an Incra 1000, which has an extension arm and a stop block. I still use the trimmer, but this thing will do the trick. Pix.
Wood Motor vehicle Rolling stock Wheel Train


Because I am so fussy about 45s, my frames go together square by themselves. It is possible to buy band clamps to hold the frame square while the glue sets. I don't use them, instead I'm able to use these little clips at the corners like these, while it dries.
Outerwear Sleeve Collar Tie Dress shirt


After the frame is assembled and dry, I usually cut a 1/8th spline into the corners. There are dozens of simple jigs that hold the frame in place and run in the miter track A full kerf blade works fine. Splines are an easy way to add strength. Endgrain to endgrain gluing is not very strong.
Brown Wood Rectangle Wood stain Hardwood


Materials: Milled framing material isn't cheap. So if you have the tools, you might wish to make your own. The biggest annoyance with commercial materal is that you must have absolutely flat material, and if you buy a 10 ft length, you can almost count on 2-3 feet being unusable because there's a twist, a split, bow or some other imperfection at the end or ends. So you'll always have to buy much more than your measuring suggests. I love working with cherry, but a frame's materials alone can cost $50 and up, way up.

When you're learning, consider making some with pine, not construction grade, it's way too soft and won't finish worth a damn. Get those miter corners just right on cheaper material, it will save you some money and expensive grief. But you might also consider embellishing with angled cut profiles, or cutting a shallow groove and inlaying some of the 5/8ths or so wide strips (like these) they sell cheap at Home Depot. Chair railings may also be usable for frames.

But at some point, you will want to start using some more interesting, hardwoods. One way to do this is to buy a chunk of rough sawn hardwood that's nice and flat (or flatten it yourself), and using your router table with split fence to cut one edge nice and straight and square. Use your table saw to slice it into lengths somewhat longer than the long edge of the frame. For a 24 inch high frame, you have to have the 24, plus twice the thickness of the finished material, say, 2 inches, plus some extra because you will not always get it right the first time. So for me, I'd want a 36 inch long piece to start with. If you buy a 1/78ths (seven quarters) by five and a half inch piece, you can cut four one inch wide strips, enough for a very simple frame. My supplier requires a minimum of 4 feet, but sells chunks up to 8 inches wide, for even thicker frames.

Once cut into nice straight, flat strips, you can start milling them. There are endless ways to cut a profile, from simple angled cuts that slope in slightly, to very fancy profiles you cut with a picture frame making bit such as this elaborate set. But you can buy them individually as well.
Toy Yellow Font Red Gas

This is overkill by my reckoning. But it shows you some of the variety of profiles that are available.

My wife paints on both stretched canvases and canvas covered boards. The former are thick and require a fairly large rabbet in which to insert the picture. So when you measure, the rabbet must be long enough to hold the picture and stretcher frame. This is tricky and I always leave a quarter inch of play in my initial measure, then when I trim the ends, I wind up with about 1/8th to 3/16 ths space around the picture. For stretched canvases, I cut about half an inch deep rabbet, but for flats, I go with 5/16ths. These depths give me room for the canvas plus space to put in tabs to retain the picture in the frame.

So now you mill each piece to the same depth. To facilitate this, I driled a 1/4inch hole at one end of the router table and a matching hole on the end/undeside of the fence. With a pin, this becomes a fulcrum. The other end swings free. That means I can make marks for each pass I make while cutting the profile. Sounds like excessive fiddling, but if you don't get the thickness of each piece the exact same thickness, you can't make the frame work. Clamp the loose end, and I also clamp the pivot end of the fence because I'm fussy.

OK, now we have the four pieces, and we've cut the profile and the rabbet. Sanding comes next. For that you have to deal with curves. I use shaped sanding blocks
Rectangle Font Electronic device Fashion accessory Metal

and 3M flexible sanding medium wrapped around them.
Publication Font Rectangle Parallel Magenta

I start with about 150 grit and sand til it's pretty smooth. I clean all the sawdust off with a tack cloth (wax soaked material) then apply a sanding sealer, which raises the grain a little, then I sand again with 220 grit. I don't find any further improvement by going finer. You can use regular sandpaper, but the 3M stuff works faster, is smoother, wraps snugly around the sanding block. Once you use it, you'll be spoiled.

Clean the piece off again, then with the utmost care, put the painting into one of the long pieces and mark the frame length with pencil so the mark bends around the rabbet and is visible on the back side. I use the 45 degree head on my square and mark where the cut should be, a bit outside the length marks. Repeat with the short piece. Transfer the mark to the top, inside of the material and cut the 45. I leave a 1/8th extra because I use the trimmer.

Use a stop block (built into the miter gauge I showed above), set to the total outside length. All pairs must be exactly the same length or the frame won't go together.

Once those miters are cut, I lay the pieces out and see if they meet and are square. If you have 3pieces that line up perfectly, but the fourth leaves a gap, then your miters are off. That doesn't happen with the miter trimmer, which also has a setup for a stop block.

If it al fits, the frame is square. So I coat the ends of each piece with a bit of glue, being careful not to get it on the front or profile side. I use a small soldering brush for that. I let that first coat dry, and then, with shiny butcher paper down so I don't glue the frame to the bench, I apply a light coat of glue as I build up the frame, side by side.end by end.

I apply the spring clamps to tighten up the joints and use a damp cloth to wipe off any squeeze out.

20-30 minutes later, I can GENTLY handle the frame. I have a fancy jig made for cutting the spines, and buy1/8th thick stock (I like purple heart, but any will do, I got ine at Rockler, and don't really use much.

After gluing and inserting the splines, the frame is really rugged. But I've also found that for whatever reason, I still find small, hairline gaps. Tiny, but I'm fussy, so I use a filler I found several years ago to fill it. It's an Aussie product I get on Amazon, comes in all kinds of wood finishes. I work it in with my fingers and wipe away any excess. I also used in once on a frame with a very slight twist to build up the mismatched corner. It sands and finishes just like the frame stock.


Paint Liquid Plastic Service Electric blue

I realize this is a long piece, and is about museum quality frames, but the process for any frame is very similar.

Not going into finishing because there are a million ways to do it. I usually use a wipe on poly, either glossy or semigloss because it's easy and reliable, but I have a special frame for a very light painting that will be finished with a few layers of spray on laquer.

Last thing. If I use some of the fancy chair stops or decorative pine from HD, or any really thin material, there isn't room to make a rabbet. When that happens, I cut strips of pine into squares about 5/8ths square (or buy it in that size), mark where the frame fits on the back of the frame, and glue and pin nail these to the back to form a rabbet. Simple, but for stretched canvases it's an easy fix, and it also reinforces the corners. Wood breaks before a glue joint does,

Hope this has been helpful. There is a whole world of interesting frame ideas out there,some are easy, some are very difficult. The really large frames, especially if they are deep, are a serious challenge, but always doable after you get the basics down.

And now you understand why a really fine, professional hardwood frame can cost hundreds of dollars. They are someties a real work of art themselves.
 

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Hello!
I have a router and about to DIY routing table. I am no more buying picture frames in 2023!
I appreciate if someone can mentor me... What would be the first bits set that I should own?

Whats next?!
I wrote a novella on the topic above, but forgot to check to make sure you have a table saw. I can't imagine doing your own frames without one. A router is used for part of the process, but without a table saw, you're left with buying pre cut stock, which is seldom straight or thick enough to make good frames. You also run into lots of warped material that cannot work in a frame.

Let me know if you have that saw. If you have one, I hope it has 3/4 inch wide miter slots. There are some with narrower slots and you can't use the super accurate miter gauge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I wrote a novella on the topic above, but forgot to check to make sure you have a table saw. I can't imagine doing your own frames without one. A router is used for part of the process, but without a table saw, you're left with buying pre cut stock, which is seldom straight or thick enough to make good frames. You also run into lots of warped material that cannot work in a frame.

Let me know if you have that saw. If you have one, I hope it has 3/4 inch wide miter slots. There are some with narrower slots and you can't use the super accurate miter gauge.
Vow!
This was the most detailed instruction I have ever received! (Beside my wife's direction on what to do which is pretty detailed).
I do have a Ryobi table saw, a master craft miter saw and a good fixed router.
I have took your advice and got some Pine (not construction grade) from HomeDepot. I am going to leevalley today to but a rabbet router bit (1/2" 1-7/8" 15/32") as my first purchase.
My very first project would be a square!

I love what you did on this picture.
Brown Wood Rectangle Wood stain Hardwood


and I have seen it before, what is the brighter piece? it looks like metal!
My birthday is coming up soon and I know what to ask as Birthday gift

I wish I could attend a workshop but i think this is learn by practice. If I am not too shy, i will share my first frame here with you.
until then, i think I would need to read this article few times.
The good news for my friends, neighbors and family is they will receive free picture frames for a while until i know what I am doing!
 

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I love what you did on this picture.
View attachment 403754
The light bit is the spline, made of maple, which has a nice, tight grain.. With this kind of mitered joint, the frame is easily damaged., the spline is a very easy way to reinforce it. Mine are all 1/8th, so I can buy a piece that thickness at the Rockler. Most woodworking supply stores have these. For lighter frames, I usually use purpleheart, which gradually turns brown

Getting your tools set up properly is kind of a chore. Making sure the blade is parallel to the miter slots is incredibly important, and it's not automatic. Same with getting the fence almost parallel to the slots, but ever so slightly turned away outward from parallel to the blade. But once done, you cuts are more accurate. Invest in a Wixey digital angle gauge and use it often because you want ALL your cuts to be exactly 90 to the table. Not about, exactly! That will eliminate a lot of issues on all kinds of projects.

The miter gauge that comes with most saws is not very accurate, but you have to make sure a specialty miter gauge will fit the miter slots on your saw. A few are narrower, for some unexplainable reason. Watch some videos on how to set up your saw. Also measure your miter slots, ideally they are 3/4 wide so you can get a really precise gauge like the one I posted..

Thanks for the comment on my instructions. I like to be thorough and I enjoy making frames.

BTW, don't forget you can use your table saw to cut an angle on your frame front. I like an inward slant on my frames. As you get into it, you're going to learn a lot of stuff about tools and wood.

My wife gives pretty explicit instructions as well.
 

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Don't wait too long to make them "perfectly clear". You know what information you intended to convey but feedback from friendly users will speed you on your path toward (not achieving) perfection.
I've almost completed it in Word, will print it to a pdf file for next time. Thing is, I like posting the material fresh because other newbies learn from it. Not that many will see the pdf. It takes a bit of extra effort to do it that way, but I'm an old timer now and this is one of my favorite things to work on. I really enjoy the Router Forums.

The attached pdf is what I've got so far. I might add a bit more copy and pictures, but it's fairly complete. Give it a read if you will, and any feedback would be appreciated

Next I think I'll write up a pdf on building a router table top. That's another common question.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you all for your support!
I just finished making my very first workshop... The routing table is basic but will do the job.
My birthday is around the corner and everyone in the family know that I wish to have a Miter Trimmer... Let see if i get one or another matching tie and socks!
@DesertRatTom The PDF you shared is printed and is in my workshop :)


Wood Table Stool Gas Flooring


P.S. The monkey is the first gift I've received from my wife
 

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Thank you all for your support!
I just finished making my very first workshop... The routing table is basic but will do the job.
My birthday is around the corner and everyone in the family know that I wish to have a Miter Trimmer... Let see if i get one or another matching tie and socks!
@DesertRatTom The PDF you shared is printed and is in my workshop :)


View attachment 403885

P.S. The monkey is the first gift I've received from my wife
That is excellent! and will definitely get the basic job done. I suspect that once you put a fence in, you will be reversing it so the fence gets all that space. The fence is what makes the router table so valuable.

I got my trimmer from Grizzly tools. Haven't found one since. When you get it, be very careful NEVER to put your fingers into the gap because if you do, you may very easily slice it off. The horizontal knives are astonishingly sharp. I keep the cardboard it came with in place to keep my fingers out. You may wonder how I came to realize how sharp those blades really are.

I have my miter trimmer on a table similar to yours, but it is mounted on a piece of as shown. Two handles, one on each side, allow me to move it around without having my hands anywhere near the cutters. I don't have them mounted here, but there are two pieces of aluminum L brackets that fit on that front wooden piece. They have a stop block for small frames and markings to make it easier to get everything to exact length. You can see the two threaded inserts I put in to hold the extended arms in place. Not shown is the oily piece of cardboard I keep against the blades to save my fingers.

There are two little arms on the unit that have a spring loaded ballbearing indent set to EXACTLY 45, and 90 degrees. After slicing my fingers, I decided it was a good idea to mount with some nice, big handles set at the center of gravity. What a great tool for frame makers.
Bumper Wood Automotive exterior Gas Rim


Here's the website. Price went up from when I got mine, but I've had it for some time now. Send the link to your wife, Miter Trimmer at Grizzly.com

I'm really looking forward to seeing some of your projects. You can contact me anytime for help as you get going.
 

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@ Matin BTW, nice start on that shop! I've attached another pdf for you, this one is longer and about general woodworking. It about the 18 + things that helped me accelerate my learning process. It will give you a guide to setting up your workshop, and maybe help you avoid buying something unnecessary. For example, I spent a lot on a compound sliding miter saw, when for frames I could have bought a simple chop saw that can be set at angles. The saw can be off because you are finishing the cuts with the miter trimmer.
And you don't have to buy everything at once. I accumulated my stuff over about 12 years, during my peak earning year. But you don't need a lot of stuff to build great stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hello again,

Thanks for sharing all these fantastic resources.
I dare to share the result of my first project from this weekend here. Even though I am an engineer and should be good with measurements, i found it very challenging when it was coming to execution. I made several mistakes and made some damages on the frame.
I appreciate if you give me your feedback. I have also some questions that i put in the file.

THANK YOU all and happy Monday!
 

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Another question. I am shopping for 1/2" profile bit set ... any recommendation?
Not exactly. I tend to prefer buying individual bits rather than sets, In part this is because sets sometimes include profies I don't care for. I like tor the outside perimeter of the frame to be raised, to lead the viewer into the picture. Most sets have bits that don't match that preference. Lots of ordinary bits will make nice profiles, for example, for a simple and elegant frame, a bit like this one will give you a nice gentle curve.
Wood Font Liquid Rectangle Wood stain


What I don't like is a bit that cuts a relatively flat profile, like this one:
Rectangle Parallel Font Drawing Illustration


This bit makes nice, low profile frames though, so maybe a kit would work OK

It took me some time to get to make good frames with every attempt. It is one of the most exacting kinds of woodworking, so be patient with yourself. Above all, make certain the outside edges of the top and bottom, and both sides, are exactly equal in length. This took a lot of practice for me.

Find a couple of bit makers and get their catalogs. You'll find lots of bits for cutting profiles, and not all are labeled for that purpose.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks a lot for your quick reply.
Did you get a chance to look at the pdf i shared?
Any ideas for those questions?

I bought a nice dressed piece of pine... and ordered some pieces to make the fence for the router table... .Very excited for this weekend plan :)
 

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The gaps you circled look like you could fill them with Timber Mate. Freehand is certainly a factor in the wandering cut you made. A fence will definitely help. Sanding sealer, then a light sanding with sanding block. Then wipe it down using a tack cloth (available from HD cheap) to remove all sawdust. Then any stain and finish coat you like. Don't count spray lacquer out. Simple and elegant finish for something that gets very little abuse.

There are lots of ways to reinforce a frame that thin. If you make a sled, you can cut across the backside corner and just glue a diagonal piece across all four corners with your table saw, just as you would make a spline, but just at the back edge so the spline is even with the back side of the frame. Glue in place. Use a Japanese pull saw to cut the ends parallel to the frame's outsides. Careful, hold the saw vertical. I do this by placing one finger on the side of the saw, like you do with a big chef's knife.

I'd say your first effort is darn good! Very wise to make those extra pieces. I think that fence will help a lot. Soon you'll have to learn to decline when someone wants do a frame for them in some expensive wood that will cost you $40 just for the wood. People who don't know the process or the cost of wood, have no idea the cost or amount of work involved. And as you pursue perfection, you'll see that finding enough good, straight wood is hard and that you will have to buy 50 percent more length than the frame calls for to cut off the imperfections.
 

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I think you have done a good job of that,,,,,
 
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Thanks a lot for your quick reply.
Did you get a chance to look at the pdf i shared?
Any ideas for those questions?

I bought a nice dressed piece of pine... and ordered some pieces to make the fence for the router table... .Very excited for this weekend plan :)
First off great first frame! For what profile bits to buy? Like Tom I would buy quality bits one at a time. The best advice I would give about the oops in the profile you created and the rabbet oops as well as sanding is to have one piece of wood more than the total length needed for the frame. First add your profile to it followed by the rabbet on the back side. When that is complete sand as best you can before cutting your 45 degree angles. Visualize the frame before you start cutting. If you cut the top followed by the right side followed by the bottom and ending with the left side you have a good chance of having the grain pattern somewhat line up at each corner. That can create a nice visual flow for the frame.

Ask 10 different people how to do a certain thing and you are likely to get 10 different answers. All will likely work, some better than others even though each accomplish the task at hand. Find what works for you best and go with it. Be safe!
 
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