Making Picture Frames With a Router

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Creating picture frames by using a router to shape the profile of plain wood is a challenging but inspiring way to add a personal touch to framed pictures. It is also much less expensive than buying molding that is all ready formed. It does require some woodworking skills and some special tools, but the finished frame is very rewarding and something of which to be proud.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood
  • Measuring tape
  • Router table
  • 1/4-inch rabbet bit
  • Variety of profile router bits
  • Miter saw
  • Wood adhesive
  • Variable angle strap corner clamps
  • Brads
  • Measure the size of the picture. Add the length and width and double it to get the minimum length of wood required. Multiple the width of the wood by eight and add this amount to the minimum length to get the actual length needed to create a picture frame.

  • Place a 1/4-inch rabbet bit into the router. Adjust the fence so it is in line with the bearing on the bit. Adjust the depth of the cut so that two or three passes are required at progressively increasing depths to minimize tear out.

  • Place the wrong side of the board down on the router table with the inner edge against the fence. Slowly feed it into the router bit to make the cut the length of the board. Maintain an even pressure down and in against the fence. Increase the depth of the cut and feed the board through again. Repeat until the desired depth is achieved.

  • Remove the rabbet bit and put in the molding bit. Place the board good side down with the rabbeted edge in or out depending on the direction of the molding profile desired. Make multiple passes gradually increasing the depth of the cut until the full profile is finished.

  • Repeat the same process if using multiple bits for the finished profile.

  • Cut the board into four pieces using the initial measurements. Each piece should be the length or width of the picture plus two times the width of the frame.

  • Cut a 45-degree angle at one end of each board using the miter saw. Put the profile surface up and the edge without the rabbet against the fence. The angle should be cutting in so the rabbet edge becomes the narrow side of the board.

  • Reverse the 45-degree angle of the blade. Slide the board along the fence so the other end is in position for the opposite 45-degree angle. Measure the length of the board on the long side and mark it so the second cut is 1/2-inch less than the measurement used to cut each board to length. Leave the mark when cutting.

  • Dry fit the frame using the variable angle strap clamp to hold it together. Carefully trim the length of the boards so the picture fits in with a 1/16-inch space on all sides.

  • Glue the corners together with wood adhesive and snug up the strap corner clamp to hold the frame square while it dries. Dry undisturbed for 24 hours. Put small brads in each corner to help firm up the joints.

Tips & Warnings

  • When making large frames, cut the board in half. Each half will have one length and one width board in it.
  • Do the rabbet cut first. It is much easier when the other surface is still level before the profile is added. The minimum depth for a rabbet is 3/8 inch.
  • Architectural molding bits make very good profiles for frames. Test different profiles on scrap wood.
  • Each side must be exactly the same length as the opposite side for square corners to be achieved.
  • Follow all safety procedures for the equipment.
  • Feather boards attached to the router table and fence help to maintain safe, even pressure when feeding the board through.
  • Use a push stick when near the end of the board. Position it so the router bit will not hit it as it passes the end.

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References

  • Photo Credit classic wooden frame image by angelo.gi from Fotolia.com
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Resources

  • "Molding and Picture Frames"; 30-Minute Video; DIY Video Corporation; 1985

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