Hi Mike, Glad you joined the fun. My wife is an artist and so I have done a lot of picture frames for her. Some traditional, some more modern. Here's a sample:Hi
I am new to this forum and routing but am interested in learning. I have limited equipment and am mostly learning to make picture frames but want to expand my capabilities. When will you classes be held?
It has been a journey learning how to make great frames. This one is actually a composit of two materias, the dark portion is a very simple milling job done on a router table with a couple of bits. Then a flat groove cut for the woven inlay, which you can purchase at Home Depot. In fact there are dozens of inlay patterns you can get. More on that later.
I have also made several traditional frames, in hardwood (Cherry is my current favorite), which I purchase pre milled at a regional supplier. The profile depends a little on whether the painting is on canvas stretchers (thick) or canvas stretched over a thin sheet of wood (thin), That has to do with the depth of the rabbet on the underside, into which the painting fits.
There are a number of profiles, and of course you purchase bit sets that produce picture frame profiles in you own shop, which is much cheaper than buying pre milled stock. The cost of milled stock is daunting. Consider that you must find perfectly straight and flat material, and it's a challenge to find even 8 feet of perfect stock, so you have to buy at least twice the length you will finally need. You cannot square up stock that is twisted, warped, bowed or anything but straight and flat.
How much stock do you need? Calculate the outside dimensions of the frame, plus a little extra to allow for the blade's width, plus and inch or so just in case. I use a miter saw to rough cut the first miters, but it is hust not accurate enough to give a good frame. Half a degree error multiplied by 8 gives you a 4 degree final misalignment. That is impossible to make up.
So to get a little closer, I go to the table saw using this:
This is the Incra 1000 miter gauge. It is incredibly accurate. It has an extension arm and a stop block built in. To use it for frames, put the stop block up, then trim one end of each piece. Then set the stop to the length of the outside of the piece. Almost always one pair of pieces will be short, the other long. You will have to swing the fence around to cut the other end to exactly the same length on each pair. Same length! Cannot emphasize that enough.
Get a full kerf, glue line saw blade to make your cuts. It delivers a baby butt smooth finish on your cuts. It also cuts a flat bottom so your spline will be an exact fit.
I am a perfectionist, so I go one step further and use a guillotine type cutter to get a perfect, exact, no kidding 45. The blade slides back and forth in this miter trimmer. It was a present from my wife, and was invented around 1880. Grizzly tools has them for sale. Be very careful if you get one, it will slice you with the most careless contact. I keep a block in front of the blades to keep fingers out. This is a trimmer, so I cut about 3 16hs long and use the trimmer to remove about 3/32nds off each end. I still doit that way even though the Incra miter gauge is extremely accurate. I just like glass smooth end grain for glue up. Here it is:
This is my setup. The bar in front is the lever that moves the blades. The small swing arms on each side of the plate are set to be an exact 45 or 90. Don't try to cut more than a thin layer, it is a trimmer, not a cutter. Notice the handles on the side? They keep my hands far away from the blades when cutting. It comes with a couple of aluminum channels to support the frame pieces, along with a little stop block. It is mounted on a small folding table so it can be put away safely.
Once I get the cuts perfected, I lay out some freezer paper with a plastic coating on a large, flat surface (the outfeed table on my table saw. Then trial fit the frame. If I've done it right, the frame fits perfectly.
Glue. I like the transparent Tightbond III for frames with a bit more open time. I use a fine brush to apply the glue to the ends of all pieces, then let it dry. I am careful to NOT put glue all the way to the profiled edge. I don't want it squeezing out because it spoils the finish in the corners. I then apply another light coat and put the frame together. Because the 45s are perfect, the frame squares itself. But you can use an absolutely square corner brace to square it up if you wish. Plastic is good but if you make one of wood, was the hell out of it so it doesn't stick to your frame.
At this point I almost always use this gadget to pin the corners together. I like these even though they leave a small indent on the corners. Which later will be cur away when I place a spline in to reinforce the corners. }|
Many people prefer to use band clamps to secure the corners while the glue dries. I've tried them and also the mechanical ones that use aluminum bars to pull the corners to the center. I prefer the spring clips, since I've gone to the trouble of getting the miters perfect.
OK, the frame is now dry. Next, I made a jig to hold the corner of the frame in place so I can use a 1/8th wide blade on the table saw to cut about an inch deep into each corner of the frame. Mine is elaborate but there are much simpler jigs that do the job. Mine makes it easy to position the frame so the cut goes where I want it, and it makes it very easy to add a second, decorative spline. I buy 1/8th thick specialty wood, like purplewood, or walnut for the spline. I cut short pieces and glue up the slot, slide the spline in, then after drying, use a very fine Japanese pull saw to slice of the excess spline material. Splines always show, so I go for a contrast. A bit of sanding. Here's my fancy jig:
Now we've got the frame together, nice and strong so we can handle it. Time for a bit of sanding. You can sand the stock before assembly, but you may still nee to do a bit more. I have a large frame where I had a slight twist at the end, but didn't want to drive down to try to find a matching piece, $20 more, just for a 1mm mismatch. So I used sanding to bring down the error. Some people like to go to 320 grit sanding medium, but I prefer to top out at 220. I use the 3M sanding medium with the transparent back. Very quick, better than sandpaper by far. Hard to find, but worth the search because it works much better than paper backed sanding.
I wrap the sanding medium around shaped sanding blocks. This is a set from Rockler. It makes sanding coves and beads a snap. The 3M sanding medium is perfect with this. Get a set.
Even with the most perfect fitting, you may still get a slight gap here and there. For this I use an Aussie wood filler you find on Amazon called Timber Mate. You can get it in colors that match your wood. I rub it in with my fingers, let it dry briefly, then use a bit of sanding to remove the excess. It finishes exactly as the wood does so is invisible. These are hairline cracks, but I'm very fussy. Can't post any more pictures. Look it up.
OK, frame assembled, detailed. Now to finish. I tend to use a water based stain and use multiple coats, with a very light sanding between coats to remove the fuzz that lifts up with the stain. Then comes a final once over with 220 grit sanding medium, then wax embedded Tack cloth to get all sawdust up. Frame dry, time for a coating. There are so many different ways to finish wood, that I'll leave that choice to you. If I have a very light color frame, I'll just use on spray on lacquer, let dry, apply further light coats. But for darker frames, I really like a fairly glossy or semigloss of wipe on poly, I make sure there is no sawdust or any other stuff floating in the air, then apply a coat. I sometimes use a brush for detailed material, but for smooth frames, I use paper towels, folded over several times as an applicator. Let dry thoroughly and apply a second coat. If you leave it alone on a well prepped surface, it gives a really nice finish.
There is one more tool I strongly recommend, it is a tab driver, somewhat like a stapler, but it shoots in a small metal tab to hold the picture in the frame.
The Logan company makes a number of items for frame makers.
For many frames in recent days, I've been using textured and shaped chair rails and decorative trim about 2 inches wide that I find at the big box stores. They are soft pine and fairly thin (about 1/2 inch thick), so they require extra care in finishing. They are too thin to use splines and they were not intended to hold a canvas. My solution is to put the frame together in the method mentioned, but before finishing, I cut square strips (about 3/4 square, the full length of the long side. I lay the canvas on the frame, using a pencil to outline the shape. I measure carefully to make sure they are equal on both sides of the frame. Then I glue the long strips on, next to the pencil line, but just outside the line. This strip reinforces the corners, and titebond glue is stronger than the wood. I then cut two short pieces for top and bottom, which gives me the recess for the canvas. I can use half inch thick stock if the picture is canvas on a hardboard.
I guess if you're really, really a perfectionist, you could cut those side pieces the exact width of the frame edge to the pencil line, then make an angled cut to lighten it up. This would give you a thicker edge to the frame and a little more glued support to the miters.
I have also found that there are some trim pieces not intended for the purpose, that make good frame material. I just poke around the trim til I find a profile I like. Personally I like frames thick on the outer edge, thinner closer to the inner edge. A great deal of stock is available that go the other direction, but I think they look like crap IMHO.
I promised to show some of the many inlay styles you can find at HD. You can cut a shallow flat spot in your stock and glue these in.
There are seemingly endless ways to make wonderful and unique picture frames. If you've priced a pro frame, even a simple one, you have a clue as to the value of a great frame that works to show off the artwork.
I hope this string is helpful. I went through a lot of unpleasant and expensive experiences to get to my current method. But I must say, it is a great source of extra husband points. I'm old and not so spry anymore, but picture frames are something I can make within the limits of my energy supply.