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Make a mitred picture frame

Showcase memorable moments with a mitred pictured frame


By Aarifah Nosarka


•  Tape measure

•  Router and V-groove router bit,
round over bit and straight cut bit

•  Drill and brad point drill bit

•  Clamps

•  Kreg pocket hole jig

•  Sander

Cutting list

•  Wood glue

•  Masonite backing board 

•  One 1.8m x 65mm x 20mm strip of MDF, or your choice of wood

Project guide

Difficulty: Intermediate

Estimated time: 1 hour

Cost: ±R100

Before Candida Giambo-Kruger (subscriptions manager) and I scheduled a date with Greg De Villiers at the Vermont Sales Training Workshop for this project, we gathered information on how to make a picture frame. I find having the info at hand before starting helps your confidence and prevents you becoming overwhelmed when doing the project. There are many ways to make a picture frame. The main difference between these is the tools used and finishing touches applied, such as patterns around the edges.


This step-by-step picture frame project serves as a guideline on how to make a wooden picture frame. We used specialised equipment, but if the tools specified here are ones you do not have, there are others that do the same thing. For example, a mitre box can be used in place of a compound mitre saw. Similarly, a handheld router can be used to do the same thing as one mounted in a table.


Of course, the same is true when it comes to the dimensions of the frame. Instead of using the measurements provided, these can be customised to fit the piece of glass you have or the picture you intend to frame. That said, also remember to make provision for things like the channel, which is needed to hold the glass in the frame. 


Step-by-step guide

Step 1: We used a 1.8m piece of wood. It was placed on the workbench and the lengths needed were marked with a pencil. Cut along the pencilled lines. This will leave you with two short pieces and two longer pieces.


Step 2: Insert the V-groove bit into the router and adjust the height to cut into the 2mm-thick grooves at a depth of 5mm. Adjust the router table fence so that it cuts the 5mm-deep groove 20mm in from the edge of the strips. Run all of the lengths of wood through the routing table using the same setting. 


Step 3: Flip the lengths of wood around. Fit a straight bit into your router table and cut a recess, 5mm deep, along the inside edges of each piece.


Step 4: Now you can round off the edges of each of the four pieces. This should be done horizontally on the top and bottom sides using a router with a round over bit.


Step 5: We used a compound mitre saw to mitre the corners at 45˚. The horizontal lengths for the top and bottom of the frame were 410mm long. Cut these at a 45˚ angle. The vertical running pieces measured 320mm long. Before cutting the two 320mm pieces, rotate the saw in the opposite direction. Note that even a small degree of error can result in gaps at either the heel or toe of the joint when assembled.


Step 6: Apply glue to each of the mitred cuts and use clamps to hold the frame together while it is drying.


Step 7: Mitres, while attractive, are inherently weak and we decided to make two bore holes with the Kreg jig at each inside corner for extra strength. Drill the screws into the pocket holes at each of the mitred joints, two at the top and another two at the bottom sections of the frame. Adding pocket holes creates an exceptionally tight and sturdy frame.


Step 8: Decide whether your frame will be portrait or landscape, so you know where to drill the holes for the dowels to be placed. We used a brad point drill to create four holes, allowing the frame to stand as both, portrait or landscape. Drill the holes at a 20mm depth, leaving adequate depth to fit the dowel rods.


Step 9: Next, cut two 95mm dowel rods.


Step 10: We used an orbital sander to smooth the carcass of the frame. It was lightly sanded, leaving a smoother finish on the front, the edges as well as the back portion of the frame.


Step 11: Paint two coats of primer on the frame. When the primer is dry, it is ready for your paint of choice.


Step 12: The glass and backing board are ready to be fitted into the frame. Screw or drill in the four picture frame clips, one on each side (top, bottom, left and right). The clips secure the backing board and picture, and can be rotated for easy access when removing and replacing a picture.


*Paint supplied courtesy of Prominent Paints

6: Drill screws into the pocket holes

9: Cut two dowel rods as supports for the frame

7: Drill screws into the pocket holes

10: Use an orbital sander to smooth the wood

1: Mark the length to be cut in half

2: Run the lengths through the router

3: Flip the length around and cut a recess

4: Round off the edges

5: Rotate the circular saw and make the cut

8: Drill four holes using a brad point drill

11: Apply two coats of primer and then paint the picture frame

12: The completed frame is held up with dowel rods

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