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Tips for Better Picture Frames

Frame like a pro with simple tools.

By Dave Munkittrick

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Blind splines

Until somebody discovers a miracle glue for end grain,
miter joints will need reinforcement. Nails work, but
pounding them in delicate frame material can be risky.
Blind splines offer invisible reinforcement without nails.
Cut the slots on a router table using a guide board and a
1/8-in. slot cutter. Each piece
is cut face up (mark the faces
as a reminder). Feed the stock
from the right for one cut and
from the left for the second cut.

Cut the splines from a
strip of hardwood with a
1-in. plug cutter and orient
the grain perpendicular to
the joint for strength.

Click any image to view a larger version.

Four-point frame clamp

This shop-made frame clamp puts equal pressure on all
four corners of your frame at once, for quick, hassle-free
assembly. Use scraps of paper towel under each joint to
absorb glue squeeze out. Set the pivoting corner blocks to
fit your frame. Apply enough clamp pressure to hold the
frame together but still allow you to align the pieces for a
perfect fit. Finally, clamp tight.


Matting and mounting


1. Lay out the
mat opening

with a marking
gauge. You can
easily make your
own from a block
of wood and some
5/8-in. dowel.

4. Position the artwork
in the mat opening.
A simple block of wood
with some acid-free mat
board glued on the bottom
keeps the artwork
from shifting as the mat
is raised and lowered
for positioning. Don’t be
tempted to use your finger
as a hold-down, acids
and oils from your skin
will cause the artwork to
deteriorate over time.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker August 2001, issue #88.

August 2001, issue #88

Purchase this back issue.

Purchase the complete version of this woodworking technique story from

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

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