Custom Picture Frame

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Project by RussInMichigan posted 05-28-2016 05:36 PM 1281 views 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A picture frame made for my sister in law to give to a retiring colleague. The overall size is 18 1/8” diameter. The small photo openings are 3” across and the large one is 7 1/2”. The wood is maple and the finish is Watco Natural Danish Oil.

Question for you lumberjocks: has any of you seen a frame like this anywhere online. I spent some time looking, but was not able to find one like this anywhere.

This was quite a challenge. I don’t own Forstner bits of the right size, so I had to use the router to make all the openings and recesses. The first material I chose had undesirable coloration when I began machining it, so this is round two of material selection.

First image is the completed frame.

Next is the concept sketch.

Then, a glue up with layout and reference lines, together with one of the several jigs I made to pull this off. This one is just a straightedge on a radius to allow me to complete the layout lines.

The fourth one shows the first opening cut and the template jig I made to cut the holes. My pattern bit was too long so the I made a stacked jig. Each hole was routed in several passes and I could remove a layer from the jig to lower the router. When the MDF dust started flying, I knew I was through the maple.

The image with the big orange router is showing the center opening being cut.

Last is a pic showing a centering jig for locating the template used to route the small photo rabbets from the back.

Have a great day lumberjocks.

11 comments so far

View Ivan's profile


16329 posts in 3756 days

#1 posted 05-28-2016 06:49 PM

Prety unique project. Interesting shape and concept of framing photos.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25355 posts in 3994 days

#2 posted 05-28-2016 09:48 PM

Great frame!! Nice process shots , too, Russ.


-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View hoss12992's profile


4177 posts in 2781 days

#3 posted 05-29-2016 03:31 AM

that is really cool. Love it. Great job buddy

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View Hawaiilad's profile


3375 posts in 3909 days

#4 posted 05-29-2016 09:06 AM

I really like it. Being a Scroller, I would have used the Scroll Saw but your Router idea worked great. If I may, I might use your design for some Grandkid pictures. I have to ask, buy chance can you share your design?

-- Larry in Hawaii,

View RussInMichigan's profile


600 posts in 3669 days

#5 posted 05-29-2016 10:14 AM

Thanks all you lumberjocks.

I like posting projects here because you, my fellow woodworkers, have an appreciation for the time, work, tools, materials, tricks, and techniques which go into projects like this, and those surprises that sometimes come along. I could have sized it down so I could have more easily made it with the tools I had on hand, but when I prototyped it with those smaller sizes I thought the pictures were being lost in to the frame. I didn’t want the frame to compete with or overwhelm the family photos, so I made it larger.

Thanks for looking in.

View RussInMichigan's profile


600 posts in 3669 days

#6 posted 05-29-2016 10:16 AM

I appreciate the compliments. I did not think this would be distinct, but I haven’t been able to find any examples online which are comparable.

View RussInMichigan's profile


600 posts in 3669 days

#7 posted 05-29-2016 10:47 AM

Jim Jakosh,
Thank you much for the kudos.
I wanted the frame to be understated, after all it’s the photos that are important, not the frame.

I like to take the process shots, but in this case the process was a lot more involved than my original plan. My mock up forced me to change the design so as not to have the images get lost to the bulk of the frame. Then, cutting the openings changed from a couple Forstner bit passes with the drill press for each hole and recess to a lot more set up time and a bunch of passes with the router for each opening and recess, as well as the time to build the jigs and templates. You know the drill.

It’s easy to overlook or under estimate things that are very important. The best price I could get from local glass suppliers was 8 bucks for each small piece and 12 for the large one. So I ordered online and it still cost more than $50.00 for just the glass. Clips, hanging hooks, and wire cost twenty bucks, but, then, marking for the screw holes, piloting and installing the hardware took a non-trivial amount of time. The frame is just shy of one inch thick, so I had to make custom backers for the photos that would lie flush with the back.

But, it was a fun project that set up a series of enjoyable challenges for me.

Hope to see you at Johnson’s Wood Expo in September. I’ve been invited to do my scrolling demos again this year.

Have a wonderful day.

View RussInMichigan's profile


600 posts in 3669 days

#8 posted 05-29-2016 10:52 AM


Thanks a lot. It was fun to make and a nice learning experience.


View clieb91's profile


4042 posts in 4823 days

#9 posted 05-29-2016 11:30 AM

Neat Design for the frame. The only type of frame that I have seen that is close is a School Years where there is a spot for each school picture from kindergarten to high school.

Well done.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View RussInMichigan's profile


600 posts in 3669 days

#10 posted 05-29-2016 11:49 AM


I’m glad you liked it.

I’m a scroller, too, and I did use the scroll saw to rough out some of the templates, but I couldn’t see how I could do make the frame with the scroll saw. I you make that happen, I’d really love to see it. I can’t see how I could make the rabbet for the glass to rest against with the scroll saw.

Please feel free to take the design and adapt it to your needs.

Because I was making 12 small openings, I chose to make the blank a hexagon and to put two openings on each section. That way the holes did not cut into the joint. For the size I made it I think that a solid lumber piece with all the grain running in one direction would have led to cross grain problems.

Here’s an image of my back-of-an-envelope layout radii:

I’m sorry about this being upside down. Here at lumberjocks it comes out upside down no matter how it’s oriented on my computer. This web site makes huge money, but they can’t be bothered to make sure the important things like image orientation work well.

Hope that’s of help.

If it would be of benefit I could make a blog post for doing the layout.

Have a pleasant day.

View RussInMichigan's profile


600 posts in 3669 days

#11 posted 05-29-2016 12:12 PM

Here is the story stick I made up to mark the radii on the workpiece. I’ve labeled it for your convenience. It might make things clearer than my back-of-an-envelope scratchings.

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