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The next morning , after letting the glue dry overnight, I got to work removing the clamps. The thinner molding was of relatively soft wood and I was dismayed to find that the clamps had left a slight indent on it. Thinking back on watching Norm Abram’s show, New Yankee workshop, he would probably solve that problem by having a piece of concave wood to place between the clamp and the softer wood–which would equalize the pressure and prevent indentation. I don’t have the tools to make one of those though, and luckily it’s not very noticeable except for close up. I’ll need to come up with a easy low budget solution before my next framing project though.

The next step was to measure and cut at a 45 degree angle with the miter box. First cut off a small wedge at the end of your strip of glued molding. the inner edge with the small overlapping ledge will always be the short side. I used the edge of the Plexiglas to measure where to cut the wood, and marked it off in pencil on the inner edge of the narrow molding. If you’ve never heard the old adage “measure twice, cut once,” it’s still good advice. As I mentioned in part 2, I don’t have a workbench out in the shed to attach my miter box to, so I did this on the living room floor. If you choose to do it this way, make sure to hold on really tight to the molding and box with your non sawing hand so they don’t wiggle around. If you are not used to handling a saw, take it slow at first. Make sure to keep fingers etc away from the sharp end and if you might ruin your carpet or pergo flooring then put some cardboard or scrap wood under your work area. Keep the saw fairly level so you don’t end up sawing through the miter box. When making the second cut put the saw in the other slot so you end up with a trapezoid shape rather than a parallelogram. Check with each cut to make sure the sides all fit together nicely. Once all four pieces are cut then it’s time to glue again. If you have 2 corner clamps then you can do 2 corners one day and then put the 2 halves together the next day. making sure to allow them to dry overnight. ( make sure to glue the correct pieces together.)

Because I only had one corner clamp things got a bit interesting when I got to gluing the last piece on. I improvised by clamping one corner and wrapping multiple layers of yarn tightly in both directions for the remaining corner. I can’t say as I would recommend that though.

Even with all my measuring and remeasuring be fore cutting, somehow I ended up just a fraction of a millimeter off when it came to putting the last piece into the frame. I spent a lot of time sanding it down just right. The same thing happened with the glass. It was just a little too big to fit in the frame, so I spent a lot of time sanding both it and the frame, checking frequently until it would slide in comfortably. make sure to leave the plastic covering on both sides of the glass until you are done to prevent scratching the surface.

On to matting in part 4…

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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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Ever had an odd sized work of art that you wanted framed only to experience some rather severe sticker shock when you went to a custom framing store and priced having it done? I have quite a few paintings of odd size hanging unframed on my walls for that very reason. ((ok so the word plethora comes to mind LOL) I am somewhat abashed to say mostly with thumb tacks.) Usually standard frame sizes have not been foremost on my mind when beginning a painting 😉

Over the past year several things have happened to motivate me to learn how to make my own custom frames. As part of my art business startup plan, I decided to ask local businesses if they would display some of my work. the hitch to this was that I did not have any frames to display them in publicly. So I bought some face paint and worked at the local farmers market to earn enough cash to hopefully at least get one frame. although I did earn enough to pay for the face paint and business cards I had printed up, it was sadly not enough to also pay for a custom made frame.

As a den leader for webelos scouts, one of the assignments was to have the boys make a picture frame. I had another leader, with more woodworking experience than me, help the boys make some rudimentary frames. I really wanted something a little more professional than what the boys came up with, and I had done some searching on line finding some interesting articles on building frames. Although it did not look terribly difficult to do, My budget and framing needs required that I do things a little differently. One article that was mentioned by the artist magazine’s blog had some really good instructions, but I needed to do things a bit differently because Watercolors must be framed behind glass or acrylic. There was another article that required having several routing bits to contour the frame. A router is definitely out of my budget range at the moment, although it did make some really nice frames. Then I found one by Bob Villa. Yes,THAT Bob Villa. His technique required fewer tools than the others. So I decided to give it a try ( after all he IS Bob Villa) and write an article on how it went. I am now done building the frame itself, and will be writing about it in stages as I bring my project to completion.

part 2 of this article…

Images and content on this blog are the intellectual property of  Dawna Morton.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Do not copy.
Dawna’s Buy               my art Gallery of Greeting Cards, Matted Prints, and T-shirts at RedBubble Buy               art

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Visit Dawna’s fan page and become a fan on facebook!

see Dawna’s art & photography with the poetry of Glennis Roper
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