How To Make Picture Frames?

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Forum topic by Mean_Dean posted 01-30-2010 04:43 AM 5280 views 3 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Mean_Dean's profile


7057 posts in 4432 days

01-30-2010 04:43 AM

Hi Guys!

I want to make a few picture frames to house some WWII U.S. Navy ship photos. I have read several books from the library, but none of them detailed how to lay out the length/width of the frames, etc.

So my questions are:

How do I determine the correct length and width of the frame?

How deep should the rabbet be to house the photo and glass? Also, how wide should the rabbet be?

Thanks much in advance!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

10 replies so far

View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 4485 days

#1 posted 01-30-2010 04:54 AM

Hey M.D., I would like to say, to really get a good understanding of picture frame construction, is to actually go and buy a frame from like a thrift store and then tear it apart and reverse engineer the thing. I have found thrift stores to be a good place to find things that you know you can make better but need an idea as to how it was done in the first place. Books are good but hands on is the best.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View Jim Crockett (USN Retired)'s profile

Jim Crockett (USN Retired)

852 posts in 5018 days

#2 posted 01-30-2010 05:23 AM

There are innumerable guides on the web, one of which is made available by Popular Mechanics.

Google “picture frame” woodworking and you should have lots of hits that would be helpful to you.


-- A veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including his/her life".

View bigike's profile


4059 posts in 4574 days

#3 posted 01-30-2010 05:33 AM

i know the rabbit should be as deep as the glass or nonglare plexi is thick, as for the frame itself and how to make it me what i do is measure the pic and go one inch bigger this works for me. the rabbit most of the time will be 1/4” x 3/8” wide by the depth of the glass/nonglare plexi plus an extra 1/8” for moisture if not the pic will get screwed up but that doesn’t happen for alittle time it could be a year or so u never know. these are all the tricks i had to learn by myself i posted the same question or allmost the same anyway and didn’t get the answer i was looking for.

If u also go to mlcswoodworking .com they have a nice frame with plans and everything it holds like three pics.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View DonFaulk0517's profile


132 posts in 4771 days

#4 posted 01-30-2010 02:31 PM

Jerry Cole (owner of In-Line Industries) wrote a book called “The Picture Frame Guide”... it is a reference book on sizing picture frames. You select the width of the stock and he has both tables and picture charts that give you the lengths of all sides (short and long) along with overall length and rabbit sizing. He goes into detail on correcting frame problems. I’ve never see a book as detailed as this! Here is the link to his site The Picture Frame Guide

Good luck… if you find a book on different profiles… let me know.

-- [email protected]

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 4354 days

#5 posted 01-30-2010 05:24 PM

The rabbet should be deep enough for your glass (or plastic), the picture, whatever you use for a backing (cardboard?), and whatever you use to hold it all in place. I like to use glaziers points to hold everything, and make my rabbets deep enough so the “ears” are below the back edge.

The real hassle with picture frames is getting dead-on miters, and precise lengths of the pieces. Even tiny errors will leave you with open joints.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Mean_Dean's profile


7057 posts in 4432 days

#6 posted 01-31-2010 03:58 AM

Ok Guys,

First, thank you very much for responding!

So, this is beginning to make some sense. It seems like the rabbets should be 3/8” wide X 1/2” deep.

I’ve never liked the mitered corner look, so I’m going to make my frames in a rail and stile format (90 degree joints instead of 45 degree).

It looks like the rails (tops and bottoms) would be 3/8” X 2 = 3/4” inches narrower than the stiles to accomodate the stiles’ rabbets. It then seems like the stiles would be sized to fit properly after the height of the frame is determined by placing the photograph inside the rails, and measuring the top-to-bottom measurement.

If anyone sees a flaw in my above reasoning, please let me know!!

Don, your book recommendation sounds like it would be a great resource. I tried finding it on the website of my local national bookstores, but to no avail. (I just hate paying shipping when I can go to my local store…....)

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View bigike's profile


4059 posts in 4574 days

#7 posted 01-31-2010 05:48 AM

for me i need a pic to see how it’s gonna come out. but i see your gonna cheat and go with the 90 deg. it’s cool but i know the 45’s will call ya very soon! GOOD LUCK! in any case.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View MRBILL's profile


16 posts in 5222 days

#8 posted 01-31-2010 08:12 AM

Here is a short tutorial. Clicky

-- Mr. Bill in Mount Juliet, TN

View DonFaulk0517's profile


132 posts in 4771 days

#9 posted 01-31-2010 09:24 PM

Dean… you won’t find the book in a bookstore, only online at or at the In-Line Industries booth at The Woodworking Shows. I got mine at the show 2 years ago. In-Line Industries sells the “Dubby” table saw sled and A-Line-It accessories for tuning your woodworking equipment. The owner wrote the book… I’d recommend it if you want to get into picture frames… his pictures and charts are excellent (they describe the dimensions for any size frame… illustration of every size in his charts).

Good Luck!

... Don

-- [email protected]

View snowdog's profile


1181 posts in 5268 days

#10 posted 02-08-2010 03:14 PM

Good references, I need to make a few frames and wanted to see what other have done. I have made a few basic frames in the past but need to up my game a bit :)

Thanks guys.

-- "so much to learn and so little time"..

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