I received an awesome picture in the mail from a fan of mine and figured it would create a great opportunity for me to show you guys some simple frames that look really fancy. One of the biggest challenges of making a custom frame is trying to size your frame exactly to the size of the print. My simple solution is to do the opposite and size your print to your frame by using a matte.
For this project you’ll need a matte board, a tablesaw and a piece of plastic or plexiglass. If you’ll be making multiple frames, I’d recommend getting a strap clamp to help hold everything together while it dries. Size up your print on your matte board and we’ll start making frame measurements from there.
You’ll need a miter guage that allows you to set up a stop block so you can make exact repeated cuts. If you don’t have a fancy one, you can use the gauge that comes with your tablesaw and attach a scrap board by screwing it in place.
The first thing I like to do is make the miter cut on the edge of the frame boards.
When taking measurements of the wood frame, be sure to measure from the wide end to know where your angle should end.
Once all of the edges are cut to size I like to cut rabbets on the side of the boards to allow me to insert the matte and picture inside nicely.
Next you want to determine which side you want to have as the face of the frame and which side for the back. Some boards may have cool features you’d like to line up in the front. Typically your rabbet will be about 1/4″ or 6 MM wide. Since I don’t have a wide enough blade, I’ll just make multiple passes through until it’s cleared.
This is optional, but I’m going to camfer the edges for a bit more of a classy finish. I’m setting my blade to a 30 degree angle and want to just shave off a teeny bit of the outside of the rabbet.
Of course you can get as fancy as you want by using a router table or table saw.
Now since I’ve made all of my miter cuts, I just want to line this up in the frame to make sure I’m liking how it looks.
Next I’m going to use wood glue to attached everything.
When gluing I like to have the front of the frame facing me so I can get a good look at the miter cuts to make sure they’re flush.
Then use the strap clamp. If you’re going to be making a lot of frames, this will come in handy, big time.
Another option for reinforcing these frames is to use a 1″ dowel and a forstner bit on the back of the frame in each corner cutting half way into the frame.
Cut the dowel to make plugs and insert them into the frame with some glue and a hammer in with a mallet. Then I use a handsaw to cut off the excess wood and then sand smooth with your palm sander.
Cutting the plexiglass is easy with just a tablesaw.
Drop it in the frame and check to make sure it fits. Then you can use the piece to cut out the size of the matte you will use.
Next I’m going to flip the matte and measure it around the picture and cut that out. You can cut this using an exact o knife or a switchblade. The best way to adhere the picture to the matte is to use some type of acid-free glue tape so it doesn’t damage the photo over time. I don’t have any so I’m just using painters tape.
I like to leave the natural wood and finish it with spray lacquer but you can stain it as well.
I’m using a point driver to hold everything together in the back. You can also use a brad nailer.