Introduction: How to Make a Picture Frame

About: My name is Mitch. I make videos about the things I make and what I learn along the way. I have a Youtube Channel called Made by Mitch. I also love the coffee and the outdoors.

I was really expecting this to be easy. I mean, it is only a picture frame how hard can it be? This is my first picture frame and maybe you have made one before but for me, this was a bit of skill stretching to say the least. Anyone can make, so I buckled down and got a great result. My wife has had a small poster for nearly a year and has been asking for a frame to mount it in. I finally got around to doing it, and I really enjoyed the process and outcome. Check out the video to get the “full picture”(see how I did that) and watch the mistakes I made along the way. Enjoy.

Step 1: Materials and Tools



Step 2: Mill the Lumber and Rip the Width

This project was very simple in design once I figured out the exact size of the frame. I made my frame out of walnut and I was making it for an 8x10 poster. The first thing I had to do was mill the lumber using a planer to the thickness I wanted, which was ¾” thick. After I got the boards planed to the correct thickness, I used the table saw to ripped the boards to width which was 2 ¼”.

Step 3: Add Rabit

The next thing I had to do was add a rabit on the inside and back of the boards that I the poster and glass would lay in. This was my first time doing this, but it was pretty simple. To do this, I first set the blade height on the table saw to ¼” and also ¼” away from the fence and ran the board through the saw creating a ¼” deep groove along the board. I then rotated the board and adjusted the fence to pass along the blade again. This put a ¼” x ¼” rabit along the edge of the board. Watching this in the video would give you a better idea of how I did this.

After I added the rabit, I put the blade at 45 degrees, flipped the boards around, and cut a 45 degree angle on the side of the board opposite of the rabit. This would be on the inside of the frame and gave it a little bit more interesting look. See the photos or watch the video to get an idea of that I did.

Step 4: Cut to Size

The next thing I had to do was cut the boards to length. I used a formula to figure out how long the boards needed to be. I used it for each side to determine my cuts. Here is the formula: Photo Length + frame width (x2) - rabit depth (x2) +⅛( for wiggle room). The way this looks for my situation is. (LENGTH)10 + 4 ½” - ½”+ ⅛” = 14 ⅛” . (WIDTH) 8 + 4 ½” -½” + ⅛” = 12 ⅛”. So when I cut my boards from outside corner to outside corner to these lengths with the miter saw.

Step 5: Glue Up

Once the boards were all cut, I could glue them up. I haven’t really found an effective way to use clamps making a frame so to do this I used painters tape. I placed a piece on the worktable sticky side up, and then put two of the frame boards on the tape where the mitered joint would be. I then added glue to the joint and pressed them together. I cleaned off the glue squeeze out and used painters tape again to “clamp” or hold pressure while the glue dried. Check out the video to see exactly what I am talking about for this step because it is a little hard to explain. I made two L shapes this way and then glued the L shapes together. I let this dry for a day before moving to the next step.

Step 6: Add Splines

When the glue was dry I took off the tape and added splines to the corners of the frame. This gave the frame a lot of added strength and gave bit of a cool aesthetic look as well. This step is not crucial. You could certainly add framing nails, staples or something like that to re enforce your corners, but I used splines. To do this I made a simple spline jig which let the frame sit on the table saw fence where the miter corner was facing downward towards the blade. Then I ran the corner of the frame across the blade about two inches deep and in 2 passes making the spline groove about ¼”” wide. I did this for all corners. Then I ripped a thin piece of maple on the saw the size of my groove. (¼” thick by 2 ½” wide) I would trim the access off later. Once I had my pieces cut, I added glue to them and placed them into the spline grove and put a small hand clamp on them to dry. I repeated this for all of the corners.

TIP- If there are voids and gaps in your frame corners, mix sawdust and glue together to make a paste and apply in all the gaps. Let dry and sand and the gaps are magically gone. Once all of the splines were dry, I cut off the access with a jigsaw, and then sanded them down to match the frame.

Step 7: Add Finish and Assembly

I used Danish oil as the finish for this frame. I LOVE the way it makes walnut pop. I think I say this in every project I use walnut for but it is my go to! It is easy to apply and looks amazing.

After the finished dried, put in the glass, the poster, and a piece of cardboard in the back. I used push pins to hold the cardboard in, mainly because it is all I had. I then placed a piece of craft paper on the table, applied spray adhesive to it and set the frame on it to dry for about 10 minutes. Then I cut off the access paper with a utility knife. This is great if the poster or photo you are putting in it is permanent and it gives it a much more professional look.

Step 8: Complete

After this you can add your hardware and hang the frame. This was my first frame ever making and it turned out much better than I thought it would. Check out the video for the full how to experience and if you have any questions on the steps leave me a comment or send me a message. Check me out around the web!

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