Mortise and Tenon Black Walnut Picture Frame

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by molan posted 04-08-2013 02:59 AM 5699 reads 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I had been wanting to learn how to do Mortise and tenon joinery for a while now, but for one reason or another just hadn’t found the time. When my wife said she wanted a custom picture frame for a Disney puzzle she was building that she wanted to put in our daughters room I jumped at the chance. I came up with a simple but unique idea for a black walnut picture frame that was built using mortise and tenon joints instead of more traditional miter joints.

I used 4/4 black walnut for the frame. The frame is custom fit to the size of the puzzle with has an inside dimension of approx 21×27 inches.

Before I started the joinery I had to fix a flaw in the form of a hollow knot in one of my pieces of walnut. Since I didn’t want to waste good wood, and since it didn’t pass all the way through the board and had a very pleasant looking face I decided to fix it. I used painters tape to mask off the area around the knot and then filled it with epoxy and left it to dry. I then used card scrapers to smooth it out. I then marked the face side of the frame using green painters tape so I wouldn’t get it confused with the backside.

To create the mortise I marketed out the locations and used my drill press to remove the bulk of the material. I then used chisels and a mallet to clean up the tenon.

For the tenon I used my table saw. I cut the tenon to almost correct size. I left them slightly oversized. I then custom fit each tenon to its matching mortise using a shoulder plane and chisels to sneak up on the perfect fit.

After fitting each joint I test fit the entire frame together, and to my partial surprise it actually fit together! And I could pick the frame without any glue and it felt solid! Nice! The next step was to glue the frame together.

I then routed 2 grooves (Rabbets?) into the back of the frame using a rabbeting bit. The first groove was 1/8 deep and was the max width of my bit. This groove is intended to help me recess the hardware so the frame can sit flush to the wall. The second grove was using my largest bearing on the bit (smallest rabbet) and was 3/8 below the first grove or ½ in total depth from the back face of the frame. This is where the picture will go. I will be using a 1/8 piece of acrylic for the front, the puzzle is 1/8 thick and then a 1/8 piece of hardboard for the backing. I squared the corners of my Rabbets using a chisel and a mallet.

For the ends of the four sides I decided to leave them extend past the corner and stand proud, with a simple rounded end. To create the rounded ends I created a template out of ¼ hardboard. I then traced the round over’s onto the ends. I then cut the bulk of the waste of with a carcass saw. After I had removed the bulk of the waste I used a router and a pattern bit to finish the round over’s.

For the hanging hardware I simply placed the hardware on the backside of the frame at the desired locations and traced them on with Pencil (inside and outside) I then used a small hand router to recess the entire bracket so it would be flush with the backside of the frame and so that the center would be further recessed to allow for the head of the screws that will eventually secure the picture frame to the wall.

I then sanded everything smooth and finished the frame with boiled linseed oil and amber shellac.

I think it turned out nicely! it even sits flush to the wall.

7 comments so far

View felkadelic's profile


220 posts in 2960 days

#1 posted 04-08-2013 03:10 AM

Interesting design. I had to do a double-take because our avatars are so similar!

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2905 days

#2 posted 04-08-2013 03:39 AM

Very solid work. Although you seem to have your labels of mortise and tenon confused. The tenon is the part that fits into the mortise, not vice versa. Apart from that, looking good!

-- Brian Timmons -

View Robb's profile


660 posts in 4354 days

#3 posted 04-08-2013 10:31 AM

That’s a cool frame, and a nice collaborative effort between you and your wife.

-- Robb

View molan's profile


146 posts in 2642 days

#4 posted 04-08-2013 03:10 PM

BTimmons, that was some good proof reading on my part wasn’t it :-) now sure how a mortise would have fit into a mortise. any way I corrected it. thanks for pointing that out.

View unclebenny's profile


45 posts in 2297 days

#5 posted 04-09-2013 12:57 AM

That ’s really cool! Absolutely love it!

View tirebob's profile


134 posts in 3274 days

#6 posted 04-09-2013 03:16 AM

Great job bro!

View plopes1960's profile


1 post in 1842 days

#7 posted 07-04-2014 02:55 PM

Great Job!!! well done

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics