Making Picture Frames for Your Home

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About: I love making all kinds of things, with a bent toward woodworking. I do projects for clients, improvements around the house and even some furniture pieces. Follow along!

In this project, I show how I made a couple of DIY picture frames from some nice hardwood. I made these for my wife’s birthday, and I love the way they turned out. Watch the video below and follow along with the rest of the article:

Step 1: BACKGROUND

I purchased a print from William Walker Co. a while back with the idea of giving it to my wife, but it needed a nice frame. I finally did this and made her a frame out of white oak, and one out of walnut. I love how simple the angles and design of the frames are, yet elegant. Oh…and she loved them too, so that’s a great thing!

Step 2: TOOLS & MATERIALS

Table saw - https://amzn.to/2C11FzS

Supermax drum sander - https://amzn.to/2q1u6GG

DeWalt planer - https://amzn.to/2CXLyo7

Jointer - https://amzn.to/2CXLyo7 (Mine is a Grizzly, but couldn't find a link for it)

Wood glue - https://amzn.to/2CXLyo7

Painter’s tape - https://amzn.to/2CXLyo7

Bandsaw (same model as mine, but mine is anniversary edition)- https://amzn.to/2CXLyo7

Spray lacquer - https://amzn.to/2CXLyo7

Random orbit sander - https://amzn.to/2CXLyo7

Step 3: LUMBER SELECTION & MILLING

Picking out the lumber is key. I chose some pieces that had a bit of visual interest. Then, I started milling them up.

I started off by cross cutting them to rough length at the miter saw. Then, I took them over to the jointer to get one flat edge. From there, I could rip them on the table saw into the pieces I needed.

Step 4: A CAUTION ABOUT THE TABLE SAW

I ran into an issue at the table saw though. As I was cutting through this piece of figured walnut, it was binding on the saw blade and it made it incredibly difficult to push through. Don’t just power through when you feel something binding like this. That could be very dangerous. Instead, I stopped the saw, and then pulled the board back off of the blade.

I sent the board through again…and again it was binding. A lot of times, just sending it through again will widen that cut enough that you won’t have any other issues, but this board seemed to be quite tense. It just needed to chill out. Finally, I went to a tactic I’ve used a good bit…cutting only about halfway through the board and then raising the blade the rest of the way, and cutting all of the way through it. By not cutting all of the way through it in one pass, I was able to relieve some of that tension, so that when I did the final cut, it didn’t bind on the blade.

Step 5: CUTTING THE RABBETS

What exactly is a rabbet? The recess in the back of a picture frame that holds the glass, mat board and anything else is considered the rabbet. A rabbet is a partially-cut-through recess in a board that is also along the edge.

Next, I cut the rabbets in all of the pieces, as well as the angles for the decorative inside angle.

Step 6: CUT THE MITERS

Next, I got out my 45 degree miter sled and started cutting the miters into each piece. I even doubled up the sides that were the same length, just to save time.

Step 7: GLUING THEM UP

I’ve tried using some finish nails when assembling picture frames before, and that doesn’t always go so well. Sometimes, a nail will shoot out the side, and by the time you get it corrected, you’ve messed up the miter of your frame.

This time, I decided to just use painter’s tape for the “clamp.” It worked pretty well and I will definitely be using that method again.

Step 8: CUTTING SLOTS FOR THE SPLINES

Time to add the splines.

I started by cutting some splines in my now glued up frame with my spline jig. If you want to see more about this jig, go take a look at Make Something’s video he made. David has a cool design, and I modified his plans so they would fit my saw.

Step 9: ADD SPLINES

Once the splines were cut, all I had to do was prepare some spline material, and glue them in the slots.

NOTE: Don’t do what I did…don’t glue the splines in while the painter’s tape is still on there. That was a big mistake, because it caused some of the painter’s tape to get stuck inside of the cavity. It was pretty difficult to get out of there, so just make sure you take off the tape before gluing in your splines.

Step 10: CLEANING UP THE SPLINES

After the glue was dry, I came back with my bandsaw to clean up the splines. I cut off as much as I could without cutting into the frame, and then used a flush trim bit in the router to finish it off. This worked great!

Step 11: FINISHING

To finish these frames, I used a tri-blend of boiled linseed oil, polyurethane and mineral spirits in equal parts. This makes the frames look amazing, but for some reason, it never would cure in my shop. This was strange to me, because I’ve never had the issue before. I ended up sanding that back off, since it stayed kind of goopy.

Then, I sprayed on a few coats of lacquer.

Step 12: CONCLUSION

I love the way these frames turned out and how they look in our home!

We hung them in our front entry way, so we see them everyday when we pass by. Thanks so much for following along with this project, and if you haven’t already, please watch the video and give it a thumbs up, as well as leaving a comment. That tells YouTube that you like it, and they’re more likely to show it to even more people…helping me grow my channel.
I’ll see you on the next project very soon!

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    10 Discussions

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    Bruceaulrichtom_biehn

    Reply 10 days ago

    Glad it helped, Tom! Thanks for checking out the project!

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    seamster

    17 days ago

    These are slick. I've never made a nice picture frame, but once I decide to this is how I'll do it! But I'll need to make a spline jig like yours first : ) Thank you!!

    1 reply
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    Bruceaulrichseamster

    Reply 17 days ago

    Right on! Thanks for the nice words. Yeah, I adapted my jig from one that Make Something did (on YouTube). Super simple. Tag me on Instagram when you make one...I want to see!

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    Bruceaulrichattosa

    Reply 17 days ago

    Thanks so much! Appreciate you taking time to check it out and comment.

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    BruceaulrichAlexT306

    Reply 19 days ago

    Thank you, Alex! Appreciate you checking out the project. If you haven't already, give the video a watch. I have some cool slo mo shots in there. ;)

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    rayp1511

    21 days ago

    I like the look of those splines. Well done.

    1 reply
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    Bruceaulrichrayp1511

    Reply 19 days ago

    Thanks so much! I love the contrast in the walnut and maple. Even the more subtle contrast of the white oak and maple is nice.