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Picture Frames

I bought a couple of old style world maps a year or so back with the idea of cutting one into nine parts (3x3), framing them and hanging them on the wall in order.  It's the kind of thing you see on HGTV or House Beautiful magazine.  I thought it might look good on the empty wall in my dining room.

The last time I bought lumber I found a nice piece of straight grained mahogany for the project.  To get all of the parts out of this one board, I will make the frames one-inch wide.  I had bought a set of picture frame router bits during the planning of the project and selected one that is perfect for a one-inch board.

To start with I set up my router table with two fences.  One to set the depth of cut and the other to hold the part against the first.  I also added a couple of hold downs to keep the part against the table.

No room for fingers.  I used a long narrow piece of 1/2" birch plywood to push the part through.

I ran a couple of short pieces through the router then mitered the ends and glued them together.  Since this is basically end grain to end grain, the joint will be fairly weak.  They would probably fail under the weight of the glass in the frame without reinforcement.  The frame is too narrow for a biscuit, I tried.  Plan B, which will be better and add some visual effect, is to cut a groove across the corners and glue in a spline.  To do this I put together a fixture that rides the table saw fence and holds the frame in position for the cut.

The U-shape isn't part of the design, it's just a piece of scrap that I had.

My sample frame joint in the fixture.  You can see the saw blade on the left.

The fixture works great and leaves a 3/32" groove to add a spline.  In the first test I cut the groove 1/2" deep.  The results are shown here.

I did a poor job of gluing this one.  You can see that when I pulled on it, the wood of the frame failed at the top corner where it had enough glue.  Just below that you can see the spline where the joint was starved for glue.  Even though I was able to break this one, it probably would have been strong enough.

Since I prefer to over-do things, I decided to go 3/4" deep on the next groove.  I also made sure this one had plenty of glue.

Here you can see the joint before the spline is trimmed away.  This one didn't fail.  Although I'm sure I could break it, it would require substantial force, more than it will ever get hanging on the wall.

After making my test parts it has become evident that I need to have a sharper saw blade to avoid chipping when I cut the miters.  I ordered a Forrest Woodworker II blade for my table saw.  I have seen these at woodworking shows and they rock.  I have always wanted one but until today the $100 price tag had stopped me.  I also ordered a 36" precision straight edge from Lee Valley to check the table alignment on my jointer.  I have never been able to face joint a board and get it flat.  At first I thought it was me but I have tried every technique I can think of with poor results.  I have also tweaked and adjusted everything on the machine at one time or another with no improvement.  I guess the up-side to this is that I am getting pretty good at flattening and squaring stock with a hand plane.  It's much quieter and doesn't make any dust.  When I'm not in a hurry it's actually kind of fun.

Today I will check the blade alignment on my table saw along with the setup of my miter sled.  Last night I had to tinker around to get true 90-degree corners.  I want to make sure everything is dead-on before I start sawing mahogany.  Hopefully, I will have my new blade for next weekend.  I have a feeling these will go pretty fast once I start cutting.

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Subpages (1): Finished Frames