Making a Large, Rustic, Barnwood Picture Frame

Some time ago, Fred and I arrange a trade for some audio/visual equipment I had for some art work of Fred's. It has taken me some time to get around to making a picture frame for Fred's art, but I recently found some rustic boards that I thought would help to augment the beautiful painting of Freds'.  The boards were a beautiful aged grey and were rough cut, which meant that getting straight edges would be a bit of a challenge, but I purchased enough material that I was confident I would get the right lenghts from. Some of the boards were partially live edge on one side and not on the other so I really had to pick and choose which parts of which boards would be suitable.  I did not want to change the outside of the boards, so the face side and the outside edges needed to be natural, as I found them.

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The first order of business was to cut the boards to a rough lenght, then then needed to be cut to width ...

Building an Arrowhead Picture Frame

Now everyone has the pleasure of having "family heirloms" that can be passed down in families ... sometimes you have to start somewhere with something that can be passed down, which is precisely what this Arrowhead Picture Frame project was to accomplish. Many of the arrowheads in this collection were broken, probably during their making. I'm sure with the rudimentary tools that were used in the making of flint arrowheads, a good portion were damaged or broken during their making.

The few, more-less complete arrowheads that survived have been granted a special picture frame that can be handed down family to family over the course of time and will become a coveted collection over time.



Making Picture Frames Like an Expert

Making picture frames seems like an easy job, you set your mitre saw or table saw blades at 45 degrees,  measure 4 pieces of wood ... cut them then fasten them together. Except, often when it comes to fastening them together, the first 3 sides go together fine, but the last one the corners don't line up. You check your saw, yup it's set correctly, so you go about trying to fix that one last corner that is off. After a few attempts you probably have only made it worse.
Sound familiar ... well, that's describes my attempts at making picture frames. Then one day I had an epiphany ... maybe it's my sides being all slightly different lengths that's the problem. So I devised a simple, fool-proof little jig to see if that could be the problem. Sure enough on my very first attempt, guess what ... a perfect cornered picture frame. Like everything, it seems so easy when you know how, and when you try it and it works, it seems like magic.


 Next I needed to figure out an easy way of making picture frames a specific size since my rudimentary form of estimating was eating up more material than I liked ...

Making a Presentation Plaque

presentation plaqueEveryone likes to get recognition for things they have done a good job on. These recognitions can come in a variety of ways. Sometimes they are formal, as in someone is presented with some sort of a trophy, plaque or other form of recognition, while in other cases someone is recognized for their talents simply by being asked to do something.

What I mean by that, is that sometimes woodworkers are asked to make special presentation pieces that will be presented to others, but the fact that one woodworker is singled out is also another form of recognition. It means that someone thinks enough of their work that they are even asked to make something for others. Along the way, the woodworkers are very often recognized during the ceremony for their hard works and efforts.

Making Trophies, plaques, presentation boxes, pens and many other forms of giftware is a very common part of being a woodworker. What's fun about it is that you get to work on something and add your own artistic flare to it ... well, usually you are, and even if you aren't, we do anyway don't we. I my case I was given some very beautiful and detailed solid silver, miniature pick and shovel ornaments that were to be mounted on some sort of a background.

Making a Picture Frame Display Box

Picture Frames are often used to display more than just pictures, and when the frame is thick enough, it can display 3 dimensional objects. In this project we are making a box to display a pair of First Nations beaded moccasins that were acquired somewhere by my father, then handed over to me when he passed away a few years ago. I do not know the age of them but I estimate they were made around 1940. I am also not sure who made them and I can only guess they are Assiniboine or Lakota as those would be in an area where he was during that time. I have always wanted to display them properly as they are both beautiful and a memory of my father.

These moccasins are about 2 inches (5 cm) high, so the frame will need to much deeper than most in order to accommodate them. In this case figured out the deepest frame I could make based on how high my table saw blade would rise above the table and that worked out to be 3 1/8 inches (8 cm) and so that's what it would be, a bit unconventional but we work with what we have.

 Once I had the size, it was time to select the wood from my stash of bits and pieces. I expected I could find something without having to cut up some new stock and sure enough I found something ...

Making Splines for Picture Frame Corners

Fastening corners of picture frames can be challenging. There are a number ways to accomplish this task and some are better than others. When you are manufacturing picture frames it becomes more and more important that the corners of the frame be held fast as the frames get bigger and bigger. It becomes even more important when glass is used in the picture frame.

There are many options for fastening corners. The first and easiest (note I did not say 'best”) is to use some kind of a mechanical fastener like nails, staples, steel straps, headless pins or screws. Each one of these mechanical connectors has it own problems. Small finishing nails that are driven in with a hammer tend to loosen joints. Screws need to be pre-drilled and look ugly, staples also have to be hammered and using an air nailer and 18 or 23 gauge pins may not be sufficient for larger frames.

The best way to fasten the sides of a picture frame is to glue “splines” into the corners. Yes, it is more more, but the splines look more professional and are unquestionably the best option. They hold the corners firm, they are permanent and they add a nice detail to the frames. To see how to make splines in the corners of your frames … read on.

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