Articles, Blog

Walnut and Maple Picture Frame

Hi everybody, I’m Mike McCrory and this is
Wood U Make It. My daughter’s currently enrolled at VCU — Virginia
Commonwealth University — in the Fine Arts program. And every now and then she brings home a painting that’s worth framing. That’s what I’m going to make today — a picture frame made from walnut and soft maple. So, let’s get started! [theme music playing] I’m going to make the frame out of 8/4″ walnut
and 5/4″ maple. Now, you may think that my daughter is six years old or something, but this is actually the back of the painting.
I’m just measuring it up for the size. And then I’m going to measure out the lengths
of the walnut and the maple. I’m going to cut it oversize. The
walnut is going to be 42″ and the maple 38″. And then I’ll cut that with a circular saw.
It wasn’t too difficult to cut. Although, the blade only goes down 2″ on my saw so I just barely made it through the walnut. Now I’m going to use a chalk line to draw
a line down the center of both pieces. That will be the line that I’m going to use
on the band saw to cut them into two individual pieces. That will make it the right size — or a small enough size — that I can put it on my jointer. I pushed the walnut fairly slowly through the band saw because you could feel it working. And then I’ll run the walnut and the maple through the jointer. And then once it was jointed, I ran it through the planer. And then I cut the walnut in half. These are going to be the pieces that form the outside edges of the picture frame. And then through the planer again to make sure they have the same dimensions on all four sides — the same width and the same thickness. And then the maple…I’m going to use this for two purposes. One is, a lot of oil on canvas work is framed with an artist’s matte around it, so I’m going to use the maple to be that matte. So, I’m slicing it down the middle. I’m
resawing it so that I have thinner slices. And then the other thing I’m going to do is use a little bit of the maple to create an inlay around the frame. I’ve got the four pieces and then I’m going to run them through the planer. I planed them down to just a little over 1/4″. I don’t remember exactly the size. And now I’m cutting the maple to be the width of the matte that I want to have. Now, here what I’m doing is I’m putting a little bit of a bevel on the front side. I really should have done this with my insert in the table saw. This was a little bit dangerous. I was just lazy. I didn’t get it out of the drawer. But it would have been safer for me to have it in there. It was a little bit of trial and error to get the right angle. I started at a 15 degree angle and I ended up doing it in three passes. I started with 15, then 10 degrees, and then ended up with about 7 degrees, which gave it a good look. Now, here what I’m going is cutting the strips of maple for the inlay. The depth of the maple is exactly 3/8″ but
I want it to sit in the walnut to be a little bit proud so that I can plane it down, so I’m setting the blade to be a little bit less than 3/8″. I’ll run the walnut through and I’ll do multiple passes to cut the groove (or the dado) for the maple to sit in. And now for the matte pieces, I’ve set the
blade height to be 1/2″ and 7/8″ from the edge. That’s where I’ll start. I’ll use a feather board just to make sure
that it’s kept right against the fence the entire length. I want this line to be really straight. And again, I do multiple passes. I was just
checking it there to make sure I’ve got it set the right way. Each of these pieces, I’ve marked on them with pieces of tape to know which direction I’m facing because if I make a mistake, I really don’t
have any way to fix that. So, I did a dry fit and now I’m gluing up
the pieces. First I’m going to put in the inlay and that’s
about 1/4″ by 3/8″ deep. And then flip it over and glue it up for the
piece of the matte that’s going to go in. The inlay and the matte don’t have to go all the way to the end because I cut the walnut to be oversize, purposely, and then I can size it up once those are in. Just tap everything in place and then I’ll
clamp it up. I’ve got the two pieces facing each other so that the two pieces of inlay will push against each other to help with the clamping. Now I had to go down to the basement. That’s where I have a proper workbench.
And I’m going to start by planing the inlay. I’ll do two or three passes, I guess, with
the plane, and then I’ll use a card scraper after that. And this worked really well. I got it very flat and very flush and then
it required just a bit of sanding at the end. So, now I’m measuring up the pieces to get
ready to cut the miter joints. What I’m doing here is I’m cutting off some of the excess material because this piece just barely fits inside my cross cut sled. The cross cut sled is where I have my miter jig installed. Now, I’m marking the two sides of the miter joint and each of the individual pieces with
the letter “A” or “B” because I want to make sure that the alternating pieces are cut on the right side of the jig. When I started, I was just clamping the piece
to the jig, but I found that the clamp was causing the material to pull up a little and
sit on an angle. So I used a 50lb weight to sit on top and
hold it down, and then a clamp just to make sure that it didn’t move laterally. Now that all the pieces are cut, I’m getting ready for assembly. Unfortunately it didn’t fit on my work bench — it’s just a little bit too wide. This frame is 32″ wide and my work bench is only 30″ wide, so I brought down a piece of MDF from the garage. And that made a perfect work surface for the assembly. I’m gluing it up. I’ve got some right angle
corners to help with the alignment and then I’ll put a framing clamp around the outside. Everything lines up really perfectly. I was really impressed with a piece this large and fairly complex with the miter joint that extends all the way from the walnut all the way through the maple matte piece. There was a lot of chance for error, but it worked out really well. And then I’m using a couple of pipe clamps just to make sure there’s enough pressure
on the joint. Now that the frame is glued up, I’ve got it
sitting in a jig for cutting splines, or the grooves for the splines. This is a jig that I made many, many years ago and it’s worked well for me. It’s not a perfect design but it does the job. I’m doing multiple passes and I’m clamping it into the jig just to make sure that everything is really well aligned. I want very straight and very repeatable joints. And then just finishing it up with a chisel. I’m making the splines with some leftover
pieces of maple that I had from the inlay piece. I don’t have a piece large enough to fit into the slot because I’ve cut it almost
2″ deep, so I’m going to use two pieces of maple, but that’ll be ok. It’ll look fine. As long as there’s enough glue in there, you won’t be
able to see any seam or anything. I’ll put in the first piece. I’ve got glue
on all four edges and then glue up the second piece and tap
it into place. And then I’ll clamp it to make sure they’re
really tightly bonded to each other to make sure there’s no gap.
It’s really important to use your chisel and really clean out the slots for the splines
to make sure you have nice clean lines. I used a dozuki saw off camera to cut the
splines off. Now, after a little bit of sanding — and I did hand sanding around the outside edges of the frame — now I’m just finishing it up with some tung oil — tung oil finish. Also, with some left over pieces of walnut, I’ve created some little blocks to hold the
picture in place. I will get some figure-eight fasteners to
attach to this, but right now a friction fit is holding the painting in place. So, there it is. I think she’s done a pretty good job with
the painting. The frame’s not bad either. I’ll put a link to her website in the information below. [theme music playing]


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  2. Mr. B Author

    This is one of the most interesting frame builds I’ve seen. 👍. You sir have AMAZING talent. This frame goes very well with the painting. Making the matt out of wood is thinking outside of the box. How many years of experience are you at? You made the frame build look easy AND I KNOW for sure that it is not easy . It’s your skill set that makes it look easy. Respect sir . 👍


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