I made this picture frame with my Inventables X-Carve CNC machine. This project was part of a video I did about the upgrades for the new X-Carve. Check out the video to see the picture frame being carved.
I wanted to make a picture holder that could be carved on one side of the wood. The picture is held in by a bent piece of clear acrylic that is wedged into two grooves in the wood. If you don't have a CNC machine, you could make something similar with just a paint pen and use a chisel to make the grooves
Our family beach vacation photo called for beach terms around the frame, but you could easily customize it by changing the terms to fit a different theme.
Step 1: Design
I used the Inventables free Easel Web Application to design the picture frame. I started with a wood blank that I cut from a standard 1x8 from the home center. The actual measurements were 3/4" thick x 11.5" wide x 7.25" tall. The final width will be 10.5". (I allowed an extra 1/2" inch of clamping area on the sides.)
I basically just typed words around the perimeter. I rotated the words on the sides. I just move the words around until I got a good fit with even spacing between words, which took some patience.
The outer grooves are .2" deep and the inner grooves are .1" deep. This sort of matches the angle that the acrylic will enter the groove. Surprisingly, I got the angle right on the first try.
If you have an X-Carve or other CNC machine, click here to open my Easel file and carve one yourself!
Step 2: Carve
I sent the job to the X-Carve and it cut it out well. I trimmed the extra clamping area from the sides of the board to center the design. I used a sanding sponge to sand off any fuzzies and sprayed it with clear lacquer to seal the wood.
Step 3: Test Fit
I printed the picture using Microsoft Word at 3.75" x 7.5". I cut a piece of acrylic to the same size. Then I did a test fit and wedged it between the grooves. I can't believe it fit ok on the first try. Thinner acrylic bends easiest. Be careful not to pop out the ends because it could chip out the wood. Bend the picture in some to relieve the pressure to get the photo out.
Step 4: Finish
My wife said it would look better if I painted the letters. As usual, she was right. I chose some acrylic paint in an ocean blue color to go with the beach theme. I used a small paint brush to get it into the letters. Once it dried, I used a sander to sand away and stray paint on the surface.
I am really pleased with how this project turned out. I've never seen a picture frame quite like it. I thought it was unique and very customizable, so I thought I would share it. If you don't have a CNC, don't let that stop you from making something similar with different tools. Thanks for checking out my Instructable! Steve...