A 12 month picture frame typically holds one photo for each month for a child's first year. However, some frames that aren't overtly “baby”, can be used for other things that happen in groups of 12, like 12 years of school photos. I liked the idea but I couldn't find the frame I wanted. So, I simply built this one. It's a simple frame, and it's small enough to sit on a desk or table.
This project takes more time than your normal picture frame, but then again, it holds 12 pictures. It's a good project if you want to practice your joinery or if you can't find something off the shelf you like. Another nice things is that it doesn't take much material. Many people will have enough scrap material to make most, if not all of it, with scrap you have lying around your house. But, even if you have to buy materials new, it shouldn't break the bank. So, this can be a nice hand made gift for mom, dad, grandma, grandpa for those on a budget but with access to a shop.
The difficulty of this project depends on how you plan to finish it. If you want to paint it, I'd say it's of medium difficulty. If you want to stain it, it's going to be harder because you have to make every joint perfect. I was matching black plastic frames I already own, so I went with the painted option.
- Wood board
- Material for the "glass" (Cellophane, Plexiglass, actual glass, or anything clear)
- Solid ridged material for the back (Cardboard, plexiglass, etc...)
- A easel back or picture frame hanger, depending on how you will display it.
- Paint / Shellac / Stain / polyacrylic / or something else to finish the wood with
- Something to hold the backing in the frame (probably sheet metal or wood)
I used a scrap of 4/4 board of popular I had lying around. I also used the thinnest Plexiglass I could find for both the “glass” and the backing, and I bought a cardboard easel back off the internet (although you could make one from cardboard if you wanted). To hold the backing in, I cut small “leafs” out of some scrap metal flashing.
Modifications, Notes, and Warnings:
First, the pieces in this project are small, so you need to take extra safety precautions. If you're used to building decks and furniture, you'll find you have a lot less wood between the spinning blades / bits on this project than you normally have. It also makes the pieces harder to hold on to, and more likely to blow apart while being cut. Use proper push blocks, feather boards, zero clearance fences, and other safety equipment. Keep your fingers away from the blades.
As for the materials, I'd recommend that you find / buy them all ahead of time. That way, if you have to make the frame thicker, or change any other dimension, you can do so before you make any cuts. The glass and the backing will be the biggest wild card. You might find it difficult to find glass and backing material that will fit in the 1/8” insert into this frame. If I were to do this again, I'd make my frame 1/2” thick instead of 3/8” to give myself more room.
I'm providing instructions as to how I built my frame. As I said earlier, I painted my frame, so having perfectly fit lap joints wasn't critical. If I was going to stain the piece, I would have changed my technique to cut and dry fit each joint separately. That way, I would have had the tightest joints possible which is much more critical with a stained piece than a painted one. However, if your advanced enough to try to make 24 perfectly fit lap joints, I'm assuming you'll know how to adjust the building techniques yourself.
- Table Saw
- Tape measure
I find those are pretty common tools in most wood shops. Now, while that's all that needed, I would recommend, and used, a few more.
Additional tools I used:
- Dado Blade
- Router Table
Step 1: Step 1, Dimension Your Wood and Cut to Length and Width
My frame pieces are 3/8 and ¼ of an inch thick. You might be able to buy wood that thin at a hobby store or you could have a lumber yard (not a big box home improvement store, a real hardwood lumber yard) dimension it down for you. However, I used some scrap 4/4 rough lumber and dimensioned it myself.
- Find a rough 4/4 board that's at least 5 inches wide. Cut a length from the board of at least 1 foot. It also has to be longer than the minimum required length for your jointer / planner, that could be 1.5 feet or longer.
- User your jointer and join one face and one side.
- Plane the board down to 3/8 of an inch thick.
- Rip a 2.5” wide length of board out.
- Plane the rest of the board down to ¼ of an inch.
- Rip a 2” wide length from the remaining board.
Cut to length
- Cross cut the 2.5” wide, 3/8 of inch thick strip into to 8.25” long
- Cross cut the 2” wide ¼ of inch thick strip into one 8.25” long strip and one 1.25” long strip.