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August 20, 2017

How to Make a Picture Frame – Top Woodworking Tips

Wooden Picture Frame - How to Make a Picture Frame - Top Woodworking TipsHow to make a picture frame: There are probably as many woodworking methods and techniques on how to make a picture frame as there are woodworkers. With that said, this woodworking video and article will focus on a process that simply works very well in my woodworking shop. I think you will enjoy and find these top woodworking tips useful for your woodworking. You will notice that the written article has a step by step approach for how to make a picture frame. As you study the top woodworking tips featured in this woodworking article, you will see that there are also time sequences relating to the video. These times will help you to better understand the events in the video and article. If you are new to woodworking, I encourage you to study this video and article time and time again. There is a lot of basic woodworking techniques used in this process that will help to advance your woodworking skills to a higher level.

Top Woodworking Tips

We are demonstrating: 1.) How to rip our material safely on the tablesaw.  2.) How to make a picture frame moulding detail on the router table. 3.) How to use a dado blade set to create a rabbet and plough on the picture frame moulding. 4.) How to cut our picture frame moulding to a rough length using the crosscut sled on the table saw. 5.) How to make a picture frame with perfect miter joints. We use a miter sled on the tablesaw for this operation. 6.) How to secure our picture frame miter joints accurately and efficiently by using Ulmia spring clamps.

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Note: This article and woodworking video is part of a series. The other videos will focus on how to make splines miter joints,  how to create shop-made wood inlay bandings, and how to cut and fit decorative wood inlay banding to the picture frames.

Preparation to Make a Picture Frame

Material Preparation: We determine how many picture frames that are to be created. This in turn dictates how much material we need for our job. In order to make a picture frame we need to work with dimensioned material. 1.) We start with rough mahogany boards that need to be dimensioned. 2.) Surface one side of the mahogany on the jointer. 3.) Run our material through the planer to achieve a 3/4″ uniform thickness.  4.) Joint an edge on each board so that it is straight and square along its length.

How to Make a Picture Frame

The woodworking video begins

Ripping on the Tablesaw

1.) (0:00) Set the width of the desired cut by adjusting the tablesaw fence to the saw blade. 2.) Adjust the saw blade height so that the saw teeth are about 1/4″ or so above the material being ripped. For safety’s sake there is really no need to have the blade any higher. The less the sawblade exposure the better.

Notice:

1.) There is a sharp 10″ table saw blade installed for the cuts to be performed.

2.) The table saw blade is accurately set to 90 degrees by using a Wixey Digital Angle Gauge. Wixey Digital Angle Gauge - How to Make a Picture Frame - Top Woodworking Tips

3.) A zero clearance insert with a splitter is installed on the tablesaw to avoid the possibility of kickback. (0:18) In the video watch how the splitter keeps the saw kerf open. We want an open saw kerf . If the saw kerf closes this could lead to the material binding on the blade causing a potential dangerous situation called kickback.

4.) Eye protection and hearing protection is used by the woodworker while working with the machinery. The dust collector is also on during the machinery stages.

5.) (0:28) An outfeed table for the tablesaw is utilized. The outfeed table allows for ease of working as well as an element of safety.  The woodworker can confidently push the material through the sawblade without the need to reach across either the tablesaw and the spinning saw blade.

6.) (0:44) The Pushstick: Take a look at the type of pushstick used in the video. It has the shape of a shoe. The reason that this push stick is used is to obviously keep the hands of the woodworker away from the blade. This pushstick also guides the material forward while keeping the material flat on the tablesaw. Pay close attention the the feedrate that the woodworker applies. He is simply allowing the table saw blade to cut through the material at a controlled pace.

7.) A clear space on the table surface to the woodworker’s right allows him the to conveniently lay the ripped material. This allows for ease of operation and organization.

The Router Table Setup

A router table insert is used along with a router. 1.) Align the router table fence to the bearing of the router bit with the aid of a straightedge. (In this case a framing square was used.) 2.) Clamp the router fence securely in place. 3.) Adjust the router bit is to a desired height. This preparation is performed using a scrap piece of the picture frame moulding.

Notice:

1.) (1:02) A plastic featherboard is securely in place on the router table a few inches before the router bit. This feather board has two knobs which lock it into position in the metal track. The featherboard is adjusted so that the material is able to ride along the router fence without any lateral movement. This control makes for a straight and uniform moulding cut.

2.) (1:41) A shopmade featherboard is clamped to the router table fence a few inches before the router bit. The maple featherboard keeps the material flat against the router table surface to allow for a straight and uniform moulding profile.

In a nutshell, these featherboards allow for the woodworker’s safety while controlling the shape of the moulding profile. There is something else that is quite important though. By having the featherboards in place, the woodworker is able to work confidently and with piece of mind. He knows he is reducing the margine for error by working safely.

3.) Watch the feedrate of the material as the woodworker takes a pass. Notice the depth of cut compared to the hardness of the material. How much material should be removed in one pass? Too heavy of a cut can create a safety issue or cause the router bit to burn the material. Too light of a cut is unproductive. Remember to make your first pass with a practice cut on a piece of scrap picture frame moulding. Once you are satisfied with this setup, it is just a matter of running the moulding profile on the rest of the material.

4.) (1:47) Notice the pushstick used in the router table operation. It is made from plywood and is about 12″ long. The pushstick is held at an angle to control the material while being guided through the operation. The all important pushstick  allows the woodworker’s hands and fingers to be clear of the spinning router bit.

The Dado Blade Setup

1.) (2:02) Freud Super Dado 8-inch Stack Dado  is used in the dado operation.

2.) (2:10) A shopmade tablesaw insert is used for a zero clearance cut.

3.) (2:10) A shopmade sacrificial Dado Fence is clamped to the Biesemeyer Table Saw Fence.

4.) (2:10) A Dial Caliper accurately measures the depth and width of the rabbet cut.

5.) (2:19) Both featherboards are in place to control for safety and the accuracy of the rabbet.

6.) (3:00) The dado blades and fence are adjusted to create a plough (or groove) on the face of the picture frame moulding. This will be the location for the decorative wood inlay banding. (3:32)

Tablesaw Crosscut Sled

1.) (3:34) The mahogany picture frame moulding is being crosscut to a predetermined rough length. The top and bottom members of the picture frame are shorter than the side members. So, we need 2 separate lengths of picture frame moulding.

2.) (3:58) Notice how the adjustable stopblock on the rail of the crosscut sled is being used. Once the initial moulding member is measured for length, a pencil tic mark is made on the moulding. Place the moulding along the sled’s rail. Now, set the pencil tic mark on the sled’s saw kerf edge closest to the stopblock. (4:05) The next step is to simply slide the adjustable stop block to the square end of the moulding from where the measurement was initiated. Now, all rough cuts will be guaranteed a uniform length. (4:18)

The Tablesaw Miter Sled

1.) a.) (4:27) Prepare for the initial right miter cut of the shorter members of moulding. b.) (4:33) Set the left end of the picture frame moulding  just over the miter saw’s keft. c.) Secure a stopblock by clamping it to the miter sled fence.  d.) Cut all the initial right miter cuts for the shorter lengths of picture frame moulding. Mitre Sled for Table Saw _ How to Make a Picture Frame - Top Woodworking Tips

2.) (5:32) Using the same procedure as above, make all initial right miter cuts for the longer members of moulding.

Determine the Length of each Moulding Member

Long Picture Frame Member: (6:28)

1.) a.) Working from a plan or previously made picture frame, take the measurements from the inside edge of the frame. In the video you’ll notice the woodworker line up a long member of the moulding to match a miter of an existing picture frame. b.) (6:31) Place a pencil tic mark at the short point of the opposite (left) miter. This determines the length of the longer member.

2.) a.) (6:40) Line up the pencil  tic mark with the miter sled’s left edge of the saw kerf. Make sure that the inside edge of the moulding is flush against the miter sled fence. b.) (6:55)  Clamp a stopblock along the miter sled’s fence where the long point of the opposite miter is located.

3.) (7:05) Proceed to trim the left miter.

Short Picture Frame Member: (7:31)

1.) a.) Determine the length of the short picture frame member by laying the miter on the existing picture frame or the plan. b.) (7:39) Along the inside edge of the moulding place a pencil tic mark at the short point of the miter that is to be cut.

2.) a.) (7:51) Place the pencil tic mark on the left edge of the miter sled saw kerf’s edge while making sure the inside edge of the short member is flush against the miter sled fence. b.) (7:58) Secure the stop block to the miter sled fence.

3.) (8:09) Turn the tablesaw on and cut the left miters for all the short members.

Dry Fit the Picture Frame Members:(8:23)

1.) Align each miter joint precisely.Ulmia Spring Pinch Clamp and Miter Joint - How To Make a Picture Frame - Top Woodworking Tips

2.) Secure each miter joint using an Ulmia spring pinch clamp. (The Ulmia miter clamp pliers and the Ulmia miter clamp rings are also featured in the woodworking video.)

Gluing and Clamping the Miter Joints:(8:45)

1.) Brush on white glue to each joint side with an acid brush. Make sure there is enough glue, but not too much. Reach a happy medium.

2.) a.) (8:59) Work on a flat surface while aligning each miter joint. b.) Open the clamp ring and release the pressure to secure the joint. c.) Continue this routine until all 4 joints are aligned properly. (9:35)  Good job!  d.) Proceed to the next picture frame to be assembled. e.) Develop a rhythm to your work and enjoy the process. f.) Place stickers under each picture frame and away from the wet glue during the drying process.

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Cutting Tenons on a Dado Crosscut Sled

Cutting tenons on a dado crosscut sled while using the table saw is a very effective way of producing highly accurate tenons safely in a short period of time. The woodworker makes his or her pass with the dado sled in a very controlled manner as the sled runners glide freely back and forth through the miter gauge slots. The craftsman’s hands are clearly away from the path of the dado blades. Also, the material is easily held firmly in place for each and every pass. There is no need to hurry as it it just a matter of enjoying one’s time at their craft while working with complete confidence.

 

Cutting Tenons on a Dado Crosscut Sled

Cutting Tenons on a Dado Crosscut SledWhen cutting tenons on a dado crosscut sled, it is easy to determine where to clamp the stop block in place. Let’s say that the length of the tenon of the tenon needs to be 1-1/4″ long. 1.) Simply measure 1-1/4″ from the furthest dado saw kerf’s edge. Make a pencil mark on the sled. 2.) Align the stop block end with the pencil mark. 3.) Clamp the stop block securely in place.

Obviously, when cutting tenons on a dado crosscut sled, the craftsman needs to take a minute to install the dado blades. Consider this as an investment of your time that will pay you back handsomely in return. When a woodworker has a project with tenons, typically, there are multiple tenons to be cut. So, once the dado blades are installed on the table saw it is just a matter of raising the saw blade height to the desired level of the cut. Now keep in mind that some woods are denser and as a result harder than other wood species. If you are working with a very dense wood, it may be necessary to raise the dado blade incrementally. However, most of the time in my shop I am able to raise the dado blade set to a desired fixed height and then cut the tenons without any further blade height adjustments.

Safety First

Cutting Tenons on a Dado Crosscut Sled and more

Cutting Tenons on a Dado Crosscut Sled and more

Working safely is imperative. It is not an option. In closing, cutting tenons on a dado crosscut sled can be done safely, effectively, and with confidence. Now, as a woodworker you have numerous methods for cutting tenons and it is great to have a variety of techniques at your disposal. However, remember to always place safety as the primary requirement for you decision.

Questions

What is your method for cutting tenons?
What tools do you use to produce tenons?
What questions do you have about cutting tenons on a Dado Crosscut Sled?
…….

Learn how to Build a Dado Crosscut Sled for the tablesaw.

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