Step 1: Tools and Materials
-Coping saw or hacksaw
-Drill/drill press with 9/64" bit
2 Acrylic sheets 8"x10"
2 Aluminum angles 1/16"x1/2"x3/4"x36"
1 Flat aluminum bar 1/16"x1/2"x36"
2 Brass strips .016"x1/4"x6"
9 Machine screws 6-32x1/2" with matching nuts
Clear nail polish
I got two 3' sections of the aluminum angle because the waste created from the cuts prevents the frame pieces from fitting in one section. Also, I built the frames around the acrylic sheets to avoid sanding/cutting the acrylic, so I needed the extra material to account for the slightly larger dimensions of the acrylic sheet.
In all, each frame came out to roughly $10-$15.
Step 2: The Cuts
I ended up cutting two sections that were 10 3/16" long and two sections that were 8" long. For the longer sections, 10" is for the picture, 1/8" is for the two walls of the vertical aluminum sections, and 1/16" is for the excess acrylic I did not want to tamper with. Fortunately, the acrylic was reasonably close to 8" tall.
An important thing to remember is to measure the exact dimensions of the acrylic if you are building around it. I did not initially, and I ended up cutting a section of aluminum to short because I did not account for the extra acrylic. Luckily, it was a longer section, so I was still able to salvage it for a shorter section.
Step 3: Drilling the Holes
Before drilling the holes, do a dry fit with the aluminum sections to see if they are all cut properly. It would be better to realize that you need to cut a new section now than to find that out when you start drilling the holes in the acrylic. Also remember to keep the scratch protectors on the acrylic as long as possible. It is remarkably easy to scratch the acrylic while building the picture frame.
When drilling the holes, I clamped the sections of aluminum to the two sheets of acrylic that I would be using. I also clamped a scrap 2x4 on the back side of the acrylic . This is crucial because is prevents the acrylic from fracturing when the drill bit is putting pressure on the sheet. This is another thing that I learned from trial and error during this project...
As you drill, put the machine screws in and softly tighten them up. This helps keep all of the parts together as you work.
For the brass strips, position them how you want them, and clamp them down in the middle. This allows drilling holes on both ends of the brass without needing to move the clamp. Again, remember to have the wood on the other side of the acrylic to prevent it from cracking during the drilling process.
Step 4: Call in the Support!
For the folds, start the folds, cut the excess off, and finish the fold with pliers.
Step 5: Picking the Right Picture
Step 6: Final Assembly
For this frame, I decided not to scrub it perfectly clean. I felt that the small scuffs and smudges on the aluminum gave it more character. It gives the frame more of a DIY feel, and no two frames would have the same scuffs and smudges.
In all, this was a fun project, and my family loved the frames. They were perfect for Father's Day this year, and I plan on making more in the future.