Introduction: Custom Frosted Acrylic Photo Frames
Hello to all who read this. I am finally getting around to posting my first instructable, just in time for a contest ;) I have been a member of instructables for a few years and it has been more than an inspiration to my curiosities. The instructable I am posting today is being entered into the Holiday Gifts contest so please vote for it.
My Instructable is for making a custom double-sided photo frame that I designed and fabricated for a few of my family members for Christmas. I work at a sign shop and we had some scrap material that was going to go to waste but I had a vision of what it could become. Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to complete my "vision" but what I made received many compliments as well. I had quite a few designs I made before I had gotten the chance to measure the useable material that was still left. Fig. 1-3 shows a few of the other design ideas I came up with.
I ended up going with something that was quicker for me to fabricate multiple of in a short amount of time and not having a lot of time to work on it constantly. Unfortunately, the main pitfall of these frames is that the photos are not removable so they will be there for the life of the frame. So with that in mind if you are going to do something like this ensure you have the proper type of photo paper with archival qualities as well as good UV protection in the inks in case it is left in a window. Fig. 1-4 is the finished mockup-design for what I built.
Step 1: Parts and Tools
Luckily, I work in a sign shop with CNC capabilities so dadoeing out all the pieces was fairly easy and I have a great boss who let me come in and do it on my own time. So, I went in after hours and took all my measurements of the dimensions of all the scrap pieces I had to work with as well as any “imperfections” or other holes or marks in the scraps, took it home and started mocking it all up in CorelDraw. Once I had it all mocked up and nested into the scrap pieces I went in on a weekend and got the carving and cutting all done. Then I just had to put it all together.
Amongst the photos for this step you will see the diagrams of the pieces showing most of the sizes and quantities that were used in creating these custom photo frames. Some of the parts you do not see are the photos that went in the frames and the black construction paper used in behind the photos to block out any shine through in case placed near a light source.
The tools needed for putting the frames together were pretty basic seeing as how most of the real work was done by the CNC Machines at my workplace (Currently working on a CNC Mill for myself but that is another instructable). The main photo for this step shows the tools needed to fabricate the photo frames.
I had 4x12" F-Clamps and 2x8" F-Clamps that I had used (I had multiple of each clamp as I made 6 or 7 of these frames altogether), a file for griding down a couple places for proper fit, some acrylic glue, and scissors for cutting the photos and construction paper/Bristol board to shape.
Step 2: MAIN ASSEMBLY
In this next step, we glue it all together and the frame really starts to take shape. The best thing to do before we actually go any further is dry-fit everything together to see what kind of “play” we have due to tolerances in the machining process, as we might want to add some padding here and there or possibly other adjustments we may want to make. Since I just mentioned it, there are some adjustments we have to make on the side pieces before we can dry-fit them. We need to file down the bottom outside corners so that they will fit into the base. The reason we must do this is because the bits used to cut the material are round so they can not leave a square corner on the inside carving. There are 2 ways I thought of to do this, you can either round them or chamfer them. I chose to round them. I measured how deep the dado was that the side pieces were going to fit into and added some masking tape to the side pieces above where I needed the riund to be to protect any areas that would be visible in the final frame and to mark how far up my fillet of the corners had to be.
Now we can dry-fit all the parts to ensure everything fits together properly as it should. Once the dry-fit has been done and all padding and tweaks are made it is time to start gluing it all together. I did this part in steps to ensure the pieces cured properly and straight. First I put in the 0.125" pieces of clear acrylic into the holes of the main frame pieces. Then put in the photos and added a 1 or 2 pieces of black construction paper to prevent shine through. Then the 0.25" pieces of clear acrylic were added in for the padding and help join the 2 pieces together. I did the same with the other main frame piece, putting in the 0.125" clear acrylic, photos, black construction paper. Then I put the 2 main pieces together, added some glue to the inside of the side pieces (small bead right in the center throughout the whole length, you don't want it to bleed into the sides or it can make a mess), put it into the base to ensure it cured to where it should at the bottom and it wasn't too tight or loose when clamped or else it wouldn't fit, but I did not glue the bottom on yet. I added the smaller clamps to the sides near the top and bottom and let it dry for a few hours. I also had put the top on it while it was drying but I did not glue the tops on yet. After the sides cured for a couple hours I removed the clamps and removed the main frame from the base. Then I added glue to the base and put the main piece back in, added glue to the top piece, put it on and clamped it back up with the bigger clamps. Then I let the whole thing cure for 24hrs, removed the clamps and I was finished.
Step 3: Finishing Up
Now it's time to clean everything up and enjoy what was just built. This was my first instructable and I didn’t have nearly enough time to plan it out, write it up or check it over so please try not to be too harsh. I hope you all enjoyed my instructable on making a custom double sided photo frame. I do have plenty of more ideas and plan to make a few more designs with more features as well as adding in some interactivity and other fun stuff using the arduino, so please stayed tuned for some more instructables because I am going to try and keep them coming as much as I can. Thanks for reading.