How to cut wood to make a picture frame without a miter saw

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Introduction: How to Build a Picture Frame

By canida

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About: I helped start Instructables, previously worked in biotech and academic research labs, and have a degree in biology from MIT. Currently at our parent company Autodesk, learning new things, and trying to catch … More About canida »

How to build a high-end wood picture frame to accommodate a large oil on canvas. Awesome art by Emily Keyishian.

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65. Photo Frame with Mod Podge Peel and Stick Stencils

So, the news is that mod podge has got this exciti

So, the news is that mod podge has got this exciting stencil that you can use and add even more creativity to your crafts! Having said that, why not make a lovely photo frame with mod podge peel and stencils? Know all the details here. unoriginalmom

Step 12: Hand-sand

Now that you’ve let your frame dry for a day or two, remove the clamps and give it a test-wiggle. Your frame should be rock-solid. Now snip or saw off the protruding biscuit tips, and we’ll get on with the hand-sanding.You’ll need a variety of grits: I gave the biscuit tips a once-over with 100 grit to create a smooth surface, then hit the entire piece with 220, 320, then 400 grit. Sand with the grain, and wipe clean with tack cloth* between sandings. I probably should have given the surface another hit with 800 grit paper, but was getting sort of tired at this point.*The microfiber tack cloths are preferable to the gummed versions in many ways: they’re reusable after washing, and aren’t covered in nasty gummy goo.Here’s an Instructable on removing sawdust.

11. Upcycled Old Picture Frames with Decoupage

Do you love to believe that the best part of life

Do you love to believe that the best part of life is “Food”? Of course, what else could it be! This upcycled old picture frames with decoupage are going to make your cooking wonders so much more fun! Redo the ugly and boring old frames by getting the secret idea from this DIY photo frame tutorial! firstdayofhome

STEP 10: Use a Light-Duty Stapler to Secure the Picture and Cardboard

For this project, I didn’t get glass cut, but you can easily head to a local hardware store (check your local listings for who offers this service; not every home improvement store does).

I’m did end up laminating my checklist so that I can reuse it over and over without having to remove the back.

To secure the back, I used a light-duty stapler to staple into the edge of the wood in the back, which was enough to hold the cardboard and checklist inside.

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Turn over the picture frame molding and look at its back side. There should be a rabbet – a rectangular groove – cut into the corner edge. The rabbet is a small rectangular section that is cut away from the back corner edge of the molding’s profile. This is what distinguishes picture frame molding from other types of molding. This rabbet allows space for the glass, mat, picture and backing to lay inside the frame. Measure the width of that rabbet: 1/4 inch is typical. Double the rabbet width and subtract it from the adjusted dimensions from Step 1. For example: 1/4-inch rabbet width doubled is 1/2 inch. Subtract 1/2 inch from 8 1/8 to get 7 5/8 inches. This is the cut width or picture frame molding width. Subtract 1/2 inch from 12 1/8 to get 11 5/8 inches. This is the cut length or picture frame molding length.

a)  Build Auxiliary Fence for Miter Saw

The first frame can be made using just a miter saw and a handheld router.  One thing that’ll make your picture frames a lot cleaner and more accurate is an auxiliary fence on your miter saw.  I made a very simple one from ½” plywood screwed together at 90 degrees. Just make sure to place the screws outside the blade path so you don’t hit one.

Next I swung my saw 45 degrees to the left and madMost miter saws have holes in their fences to attach an additional fence.  I used ½” pan head screws and secured the new fence to the saw so it wouldn’t move while cutting.

Next I swung my saw 45 degrees to the left and made the initial cut in the fence.  Then I made a series of test cuts to see how well it lined up. And by some woodworking miracle it was perfect.  Typically you’ll need to nudge the blade left or right to get it just right.

Jon PetersI used a tip I picked up from Jon Peters and made some reference lines on the fence.  For the 8×10 frames I went 8-⅛”” and 10-1/8” from the blade kerf and made marks on the back fence. Then I used a 45 degree drafting square to draw lines parallel to the cut the line.

To make this picture frame I’m using an 8’ select

To make this picture frame I’m using an 8’ select pine 1×2 you can get at most home improvement stores.  I started by cutting it in half as you can get two 8×10 frames from one board. But I’d actually recommend cutting all your material directly in half at 90 degrees before adjusting your miter saw.

How To Measure Miter Cuts for Picture Frames

We know the opposite rails on a frame must be exactly the same length to have a square frame.  We also know that we’re cutting a 45-degree angle at both ends of those rails.  This means each rail will have a longer outer measurement than the inner measurement, with the internal measurement being the same as the piece being framed and the glass cover of the piece, if a photo.

When using a miter saw for your cuts, a stop block is necessary to butt the already-cut end of the rail against when making the second cut on the rail’s other end.  The stop block must itself be a perfect 45-degree block and measured from the blade on the inner dimension of the rail.

We’ve calculated 60” of stock for the project, using the above example.  The two stiles will be 13” on the inside; and, the two rails will be 17”, again on the inside.

But, we also know the outside of the rail will be longer than the inside.  This means 60” isn’t going to cut it (pun intended), and we’ll run a bit short.   It will depend on the width of the molding you’re using for your frame.

The formula is pretty common sense:

  • There will be 8 ends (4 rails x 2 ends).
  • You’ll need an additional stock measurement to compensate for the outside rail measurement, and that’s based upon the width of the molding.
  • If the molding width is 3 inches, you’ll lose 3 inches on a 45-degree miter cut. Another way of saying this is the outside of the rail will be 3” longer than the inside of the rail.
  • The formula, then, is 8 ends x 3” molding width, or 24 inches. You’ll need 84” of stock for your frame.

This will give you enough stock to accommodate all the miter cuts and the 8 ends of the rails and stiles.

STEP 3: Cut the Right Side of the Picture Frame

At that point, I was then ready to cut the other 45-degree angle.

This was the top piece of the picture frame.

NOTE: Since the picture frame molding can be a bit long, be sure to have someone support the longer side if you don’t have a long table to support it. Otherwise, it may chip off like mine did when I sawed through it.

Since my picture cleaning checklist was a bit rectangular, the top and bottom were the same, and I re-measured to make the sides.

Easy DIY Floating Picture Frame Style 1

Style 1 is my personal favorite, so I’ll start with it 😊

This particular floating picture frame design requires ¾″ square dowels and 1×2 board. It is basically just a 1×2 wrapped around a square dowel frame.

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I used ¾” square dowels for this and set up my miter saw to cut 45 degrees.  Now, you don’t have to miter these.  You can leave it on 90 and make butt joints.  You also don’t need a MITER saw for this.  Any saw that you can cut fairly straight with will work fine.

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I basically trimmed four pieces of square dowel so that when fit together, they’d be just barely (like ⅛″) bigger than the plexiglass piece I was putting in it.

I applied wood glue to the corners and nailed them together with brad nails.  If you are patient, and don’t have a nail gun, simply glue and clamp until dry.

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After the glue had dried, I cut to fit 1×2 pieces with 45 degree mitered corners around this frame.  Again, butt joints are fine here if you want to skip the mitered corners.

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I glued and nailed these 1x2s around the edges leaving about ¼” sticking out the back side of the plexiglass, so that when I install the two ⅛″ plexiglass pieces, it’ll be flush across the back side of the frame.

Then, I screwed these twisty tabs into the back sides of the frame to hold the plexiglass in place.  I’ll go back and clean the sawdust off the plexiglass later, but for now, I set this off to the side to make the next frame.

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Loosen the angle adjustment knob on the miter saw and swivel it to the right until the angle indicator is on the 45-degree mark, then tighten.

Tools

  • Photo Mat Cutter
  • Razor blade
  • Level
  • Extra set of hands (you need one person to hold the level and another to use the cutter)

How To Cut Picture Frame​ Details

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a)  Use Router Table to Cut Profile on Picture Frame

For the third frame I brought out the big guns and added a router table to the mix. With a router table you open up a whole new world of options for profiles. The one I’m using here is the cast iron top table from JET, the other sponsor of today’s project.  It’s got a chain-driven router lift that let’s you change bits above the table and make micro adjustments to the height of the bit.

It was a little small for what I was going for so I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do with the profile, but honestly I just jumped into it. Using a cove bit, I made a sweeping curve on the inside of the frame.

JET router tableIt was a little small for what I was going for so I raised the bit and made another pass. That’s the beauty of working on this JET router table, you can really fine tune things very easily.

This is very subtle but will create some really coNext I unplugged the router and changed over from a cove bit to a straight bit. I put a small ⅛” by ⅛” groove along the inner edge.

I put a small roundover on both sides of a ¼” off This is very subtle but will create some really cool shadow lines in the final piece.  I’m really a fan of simple looks so I decided to stop the profiling here.

I put a small roundover on both sides of a ¼” off cut from the frame stock to show how this could look. The possibilities really are endless when doing profiles on the router table.

Floating Picture Frame Hanging Options

The final step is clean up and hanging.  I used some glass cleaner to clean up all the saw dust, then used a piece of double sided tape on the back plexiglass piece to make sure the pictures stay in place, then put the frames back together.

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To hang, you can use your standard sawtooth hangers for this.

Or simply place it on a shelf.

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OR, use a drill to drill holes into the corners to run some paracord and hang it on a piece of wood dowel you screwed into the wall.

As you can see, making picture frames doesn’t have to be complicated.  This is a great beginner project you can tackle with minimal tools and get as creative as you want. 

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I actually hung these graphics up in my desk area to help keep me motivated while working alone from home right now. So, now that my desk space is complete, I guess I should probably get back to work 😊

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little project.  There are plenty more coming your way, so be sure to subscribe to my newsletter below so you don’t miss out on what’s coming next!

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And don’t forget to pin this for later!

Until next time, happy building 😊

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Hand Saw and Miter Box

Perhaps you’re old school and want to do everything by hand. Perhaps you’re just starting out, and Dad or a favorite uncle has left you his hand tools.  Perhaps you’re in the midst of a power outage and can’t use your power tools.

No problem, as old school will work just fine as well.  The same math applies; the only change is the means of the cuttings.

A hand saw, and miter box will do the trick for you.  A miter box consists of a hand saw with teeth made for cross-cutting – cutting against the grain of the molding for your frame, and a box with slots on both sides that guide the saw accurately for 45-degree cuts.

The same measurement considerations apply with your stock to ensure opposite rails are precisely the same lengths.  If you have measured accurately and follow the marks for those measurements on the wood, you’ll get the same results with a miter box as you will with the power tools.

Power or hand, the results will be a frame you’ll be proud to hang.  You see, there is more than one way to skin a cat.  And, the math is pretty straightforward and mostly common sense, with no calculator required.

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