Picture frame clamp

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Project by Mike in Wisconsin posted 07-01-2013 04:17 AM 18080 views 179 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Picture frame clamp
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Here’s my take on a self-squaring picture frame clamp. It’s pretty much like most people’s. Here’s how I built it:

I had some chunks of prefinished maple from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore (check these out if you haven’t yet and you’ve got one in your area – they’re pretty great). I cut my stock down to length:

The four long pieces in the middle are the arms. The four small pieces at the top are the crossbars that connect each pair of arms. I doubled them up, one above and one below the arms, but it would work just as well if you don’t.

You’ll notice I’ve cut notches and drilled holes for the small pieces that will hold the corners of the frame. I don’t like working with small pieces when I can avoid it – too easy for something to get pulled out of your hand. So I’ve made most of the cuts in the small pieces while they’re still in one piece of stock.

After cutting the pieces out and trimming the corners (just for the hell of it), here’s the full set of corners. The square pieces will go underneath the arms and will hold the bolt that keeps the corners in place. Here’s the squares with bolts:

T-nuts, washers and machine screws.

Next I needed to drill the holes in the arms. These are for the bolts in the corner pieces, and they allow you to reposition the corners for larger or smaller frames.

Most of this clamp can be built without worrying about precision, but this is the one part that should be accurate. The holes on each of the four arms all need to have the same spacing. If one arm’s holes are a little farther out, the clamp won’t pull the frame into square.

Other folks might have a more elegant solution, but mine was to drill one arm, then duct-tape it to another arm and use the first as a template. Using duct tape instead of clamps let me drill the whole length of the arm without having to reposition clamps and risk losing alignment. Worked like a charm.

The finished product, clamping up a test frame:

Nice square corners. There were three more that looked just like this one. The hole at the corner allows a little bit of room to slide the pieces around to ensure proper alignment. I was using biscuits for this one. The hole also makes sure that the clamping pressure is applied evenly to the edge of the frame, not just at the corner where it might damage the piece.

I’ve put together a half-dozen frames with this already, and I’m pretty happy with it. It was an easy build, too. Well worth the time if you’ve got some blank spots on the wall to fill.

24 comments so far

View parkerdude's profile


182 posts in 4733 days

#1 posted 07-01-2013 06:28 AM

Sweet !!

-- dust control

View rustythebailiff's profile


100 posts in 3223 days

#2 posted 07-01-2013 11:10 AM

Wish I’d seen this last week! I’ve been working on one, and pre-cut the cleats before cutting the angled cut outs in them. Would have saved myself all kinds of work. Very well thought out, thanks for sharing. I will use this for my next one

-- "Necessity is the mother of invention"

View Tom Godfrey's profile

Tom Godfrey

488 posts in 3457 days

#3 posted 07-01-2013 11:52 AM

I love it. Every time I go to LJ site I see things that LJ members come up with and I am always impressed. Going to have to make one of these for sure. Adding to favorite.

-- Tom Godfrey Landrum South Carolina ([email protected])

View becikeja's profile


1180 posts in 4094 days

#4 posted 07-01-2013 11:57 AM

well done

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

View jeffswildwood's profile


4952 posts in 3258 days

#5 posted 07-01-2013 12:35 PM

This is definitely a must build for me. My Son is keeping me busy with picture frames. Nice job!

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way that says "I meant to do that".

View ldl's profile


1135 posts in 3646 days

#6 posted 07-01-2013 01:59 PM

I need this also as I have several pic frames to build in a row. Might just have to go ahead and build it as the method I am using is aggravating to say the least. Probably could build it as fast as building a frame and save a lot of frustration in aligning with clamps.

-- Dewayne in Bainbridge, Ga. - - No one can make you mad. Only you decide when you get mad - -

View BBF's profile


144 posts in 3120 days

#7 posted 07-01-2013 02:13 PM

Nice tutorial thanks for sharing.

-- I've never been disappointed buying quality but I have been disappointed buying good enough.

View JR_Dog's profile


526 posts in 3601 days

#8 posted 07-01-2013 03:06 PM

What a great design – thanks for sharing

View bobasaurus's profile


3740 posts in 4465 days

#9 posted 07-01-2013 06:44 PM

Genius design. I love that there’s only one clamp in the center providing all the pressure needed.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View lazyoakfarm's profile


144 posts in 4078 days

#10 posted 07-01-2013 07:33 PM

Love the detail of the how too. It helps those of us that are beginners.

View DBuonomano's profile


90 posts in 3376 days

#11 posted 07-01-2013 08:11 PM

I always knew there was an easier way to clamp up a picture frame, but couldn’t quite sort it out. This is extremely helpful, and looks like it’s easily scalable for larger frames as well. Thanks for posting!

View GaPeachWoodworker's profile


50 posts in 3948 days

#12 posted 07-01-2013 08:13 PM

Very Cool!!!

-- Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. However, when you can, you should with wood!

View vanhandler's profile


7 posts in 3184 days

#13 posted 07-01-2013 08:20 PM

Wow. I need to build one of these. Thanks for the great pics and instructions.

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3573 days

#14 posted 07-01-2013 10:03 PM

Great jig, great write up!

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 3820 days

#15 posted 07-02-2013 02:23 AM

Bravo sir!

-- I never finish anyth

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