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Thread: best way to produce simple picture frames efficiently

  1. #1

    best way to produce simple picture frames efficiently

    I have made a lot of picture frames, but they usually involve through M/T, dovetail lap joints, or some other kind of aesthetic joinery. Now I need to make a lot of very simple frames, such as you might get at a frame shop with mitered corners and mechanical fasteners. I tried making one with some L-shaped "nails" I bought from some catalog and had a terrible time trying to get them in without bending them, and if I did drive one in I had no way to set it. I believe these are intended to be driven with a specific tool. Is there a better way? Biscuits? Some sort of dowel jig? I don't have a domino.


  2. #2
    How about conventional miter joints reinforced with key splines after glue up? You could cut the splines at the router table or table saw with a simple jig. I think you could produce a lot of frames efficiently this way.
    If you have a bandsaw, here is a tip on how to trim miter keys quickly:

    If you feel miter keys are too time consuming to trim and flush, many frame shops reinforce corners at the back with flat angle braces and screws. Depends on the dimensions of your frames.

    I think the Merle clamps sold by MLCS are excellent for clamping up frames. The four way speed frames Lee Valley sells are good too, and recently Fine Woodworking had a tip on how to make them yourself:

    Last edited by Edwin Santos; 05-10-2019 at 6:09 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    sykesville, maryland
    half lap miter joints. Quick using jig once setup. Look good. big glue surface, And you can fasten with short brads.

  4. #4

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Camillus, NY
    Tight miter surfaces, glued and pin nailed works very well. Also eliminates clamping.

    "It is better to fail in originality than succeed in imitation" - Herman Melville

  6. #6
    Well the best way is to use Hoffman dovetail key. The machine is not cheap, but if you make a lot of picture frames, it is worth it.

  7. #7
    I learned that you can make very strong miter joints for picture frames by simply placing glue on both halves of the joint. You are essentially gluing end grain and end grain will pull the glue into the wood and away from the joint, leaving a weak joint. Use a generous amount of glue on each side.

    I found that the "90 degree corner clamps" don't do anything more than hold the parts at 90 degrees. The provide no clamping pressure to the joint. I have had much better clamping success using a four corner type clamp. I have a much older version of this style clamp.

    Yes, half lap miters and splined joints are stronger, but take more work to produce.
    Lee Schierer
    USNA- '71
    Captain USN(Ret)

    My advice, comments and suggestions are free, but it costs money to run the site. If you found something of value here please give a little something back by becoming a contributor! Please Contribute

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Kansas City
    I've made a lot of frames. Just get the right tool to drive the little V shaped nails. The simple one that looks like a screw driver with a magnetic tip that you set the nail on, and then push it in. You dont need the expensive machine type. It makes it simple for small thin frames where any larger connectors are too big to accommodate. I have used brad nails a couple of times and even biscuits or pocket screws will work, but its more work than the Vs, easy to split the frame and overkill. I got my tool and nails at Hobby Lobby, but they're not hard to find.

    The Vs have one end that is chiseled so make sure thats the one that goes in.

    < I guess they're not that cheap at $42, but I still think its worth it if you're going to do a lot. I've not split a thin frame yet. For larger frames I use other things.
    Last edited by Stan Calow; 05-11-2019 at 8:45 AM.

  9. #9
    Anyone have experience with this tool?,43293

  10. #10
    Looking a little more closely I think that is the same one as rockler.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
    I've never seen that tool before, but I would use a point driver, instead of backing nails. You use the tool to push what's in the frame as tight as you want it against the glass, squeeze the handle, and it shoots a point into the frame, holding everything in place. You load a strip of points in the driver, and you can shoot 30, or so, before you have to reload it. That's what I use for window panes in window sash, but they make ones specifically for framing that shoot different length points to choose from.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Kansas City
    The question is about holding the frame together, reinforcing the miter joint, right? Günter, the Lee Valley and Rockler tools look like the same thing. The V-nail sits on the magnetized peg and gets pushed into the frame by hand, or sometimes with an assist from a light mallet tap. It has to be straight up and oriented with the grain or it will get bent. Look close to see which end is beveled. I think there are more sophisticated tools for about twice as much. I only use this for frames that are 5 cm wide or less.

    The metal peg is spring-loaded so when you push the tool down, the peg retracts.
    Last edited by Stan Calow; 05-11-2019 at 9:30 PM.

  13. #13
    I ordered the rockler tool. We will see. I also ordered a "band clamp" apparatus.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    SE Michigan
    I just use glue as Lee does...and the LV clamp Lee shows. I was watching a Phil Lowe video where he spread some glue, rubbed it into the end grain, and then applied more glue. Might start doing that...can’t see how it can hurt.

  15. #15
    Look up vee nailer I have had both floor version and hand held version.
    The floor version is a PIA, the hand held is very quick cost about 150 on flea bay.

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