Floating Picture Frames

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Project by Don Johnson posted 08-27-2015 04:49 PM 1758 views 2 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch

I did previously post an item on the Ultimate Picture Frame Jig & Spline Jig – – in which I mentioned that an artist friend of mine – – had asked me to make some floating picture frames for her stretched canvas pictures. However, I thought I would make another post with details of how I actually make the frames, and this is it!

She was previously buying commercial versions, but although she was happy with the pine they were made of, she wanted better quality – and a lower cost!. She paints the frames with a wash coat, or even leaves them plain, so I was able to use PSE, or planed square edge, redwood, purchased from the local hardware store.

I buy 94 inch (2400 mm) lengths of 1 3/4×3/4 inch (44×20.5 mm) and 1 3/4×1/2 inch (44×12 mm) timber and glue the thinner size to the narrow edge of the thicker timber, to form a long ‘L’ section – as shown in picture 2. I have to pick and choose when selecting timber to find the occasional straight lengths, and I ensure that the thinner section is attached just proud of the thicker, so after the glue has set for about an hour, I can use a few plane strokes to make the final outer surface flat and level – see picture 3. I tried using an flush trim bit in a router, but the plane gives a better finish.
I chop the long lengths into pieces to just longer than needed, then use my version of the Frame Sled to cut them to their final size – see picture 4. I then glue four pieces together, using spring mitre clamps – see picture 5. I check for squareness, but the Jig cuts are so accurate that adjustments are rarely needed. After another hour or so, I remove the spring clamps and after changing to a flat-topped blade on the tablesaw, I use DW’s Spline Jig to make slots – see picture 6.
I slice a thin section from some more 44 mm timber, and cut this to make the splines – on the table in picture 6. They are about 3.3 mm thick to go in slots cut by my 3.2 mm flat top table saw blade, and I glue these in place to add strength to the frames. I could use my pin nailer instead of splines, but either way a little filling and sanding would be needed, and I like the finished effect of the splines.

Because I am making quite a number of these frames, I really have to use pre-prepared timber, and despite the limited range available locally, I was able to pick suitable sizes to match the depth of the canvasses on their stretchers – about 1 5/8 inch (40 mm). Each frame is sized so that there is a small gap between it and the picture – which is attached by screws from the rear.

My friend says that she is delighted with the results, and they keep me busy in my retirement.

Later . . . .

One of the reasons for using splines is the fact that a contrasting wood can be used for the spline, and this makes the joint more interesting and attractive. I realsied that as these frames were mostly being painted, and that I was using the same material for the spline, so splines were not really necessary. Before reverting to pin-nailed glued joints, I thought I would test one, and here is the result:

In future I will save myself some work, and stick to pinned joints.

-- Don, Somerset UK,

1 comment so far

View Northwest29's profile


1695 posts in 3173 days

#1 posted 08-27-2015 07:11 PM

Great information and interesting project. Should save folks quite a bit of money to make there own. Thank you!

-- Ron, Eugene, OR, "Curiosity is a terrible thing to waste."

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