custom framing 1As mentioned in part 1 of this article,part of my strategy to keep the costs down while building my frame was using as little tools as possible so I would not have to go out and buy a bunch of power tools. Another budget stretcher is to use what you already have, or borrow items from friends, relatives, or neighbors who may be into woodworking. You may even be able to get them to show you how to use it or to help you with your project. If you can, find wood scraps or recycled wood to use for your frame (check at home improvement stores or lumber yards. I have heard that construction sites are also good resources–just remember to ask. Craigslist sometimes has interesting items in the free section– scrap lumber is occasionally one of them.)

p1100227.jpgI took my a drawing to the hardware store with me, in a protective sleeve, to help me select a good width for the frame. Having the picture with me also helped to select a section of Plexiglas approximately 11 x 14 for a little under $3. I chose that size, which was slightly larger than my picture, rather than buying a larger sheet because glass cutters were about $12. Instead of buying glass cutters I left the Plexiglas as is and decided to mat the picture as well as framing it. They also had various sizes of regular glass, but if you have small children (or teenagers LOL) who constantly knock things off the walls Plexiglas is a must.

After choosing the Plexiglas, I bought 2 strips of molding. The wider piece needed to have a flat side (for gluing the other piece to) and to have a contour on the opposite edge. [see photo at top] The other, narrower, piece of molding was rounded and decoratively carved. I could not find any exactly like the ones Bob Villa used to make his frame, but that’s I really liked the ones I chose instead. Mine were approximately 7 feet long which was enough to make a frame with inner measurements of about 11×14″. I had about a foot or a foot and a half left over. When buying molding for your frame remember that each time you make a 45 degree cut for the corner there is going to be a triangle that you wont be able to use for the frame and you’ll need to buy extra to compensate for that. If you want to buy exactly how much you need you will have to dust off your high school geometry and use the Pythagorean theory to figure out how much extra to get (this will depend on how wide your molding is).

framing 2I have to admit I spent some time drooling over the power miter saws, unfortunately even on sale they were $60. What I ended up getting instead was a little plastic miter box that came with the saw all for about $8. I also bought 4 small c clamps about $2 each (make sure they work first I had to take one of mine back because it didn’t). I wished I had bought about 2 more. Make sure you have enough to place one every couple feet and that they open wide enough for the thickness of your molding. Corner clamps were about $10 each. I only bought one, but 2 are really necessary. I’ll explain why later.

I did not buy a nail setter or the 3/4 inch finishing nails, that Mr. Villa recommends, because the hardware store I was at did not have any that size. I think for the size frame I am making, especially with using a lightweight Plexiglas instead of glass, it should be ok without them. I’m sure I’ll find out the first time somebody knocks it off the wall.

framing 3I got the wood and tools home and started marking the wider piece of molding on the backside. I measured and marked every few inches with a clear ruler so that when I glued them together the skinnier piece would hang over creating a 1/4 inch ledge, and glued them together with some wood glue I already had on hand and clamped them together with 4 small C clamps and used the corner clamp also because 4 was not quite enough. For those of you with no garage or workshed to do this in, you can do this in the living room–however I would recommend waiting until anyone with curious little fingers are in bed for the night, and make sure to put down some newspaper or something to catch any drips or spills. Also, keep a damp cloth handy (ahead of time LOL) to wipe off any excess glue. Even though it is recommended to let the glue dry overnight, work quickly once you begin applying the glue. It does get tacky and difficult to adjust are in a relatively short amount of time.

part 3...

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