How To Join Picture Frame Corners

June 6, 2021

Do you know that there is no need for you to cut the corners of wood picture frames? You are planning to buy one, aren’t you? Cutting the frame’s corners gives a lot of people a headache. Here’s the real catch. Why let yourself get tangled with such worries when you can assemble the frame’s corners instead of cutting them? 

At this point, you are planning to make a wood frame by yourself, right? If that’s the case, you badly need to measure its every corner at a perfect 45-degree angle. Grab a miter saw for your convenience. Be accurate in cutting each part of the frame. Another secret is to use a table saw, or a hand saw with precision and attention to measurements. Also, make a jig to ensure precision in cutting. First, have a plywood cut in square. Then, screw it into a board at a 45-degree angle. The jig that you are making helps you clutch the wood and make it stay in place while you are cutting it. 

Steps on Joining The Picture Frame Corners

Enumerated below are the steps in joining the picture frame corners. 

Step # 1: Choose A Wood Color That Matches The Grain Pattern 

Regardless of the type of picture frame that you look forward to making, you need to ascertain that the grain pattern and the wood’s color complement each other. The grain patterns should match with the miters too. Doing so does not take up so much of your time. However, this step is vital if you wish to achieve better-looking miters. 

Step # 2: Align Miter Joints Using V-Nails or biscuits. 

Clamping and aligning miters is a daunting task. Can you imagine how challenging it could be to work on lubricated miters or those that are coated with slippery glue? This is where V-nails and biscuits come in. Many woodworkers use the latter in joining miter joints without putting too much pressure on themselves. Though cutting biscuit slots is considered as a minor woodwork or job, this process is vital most especially during the glue-up time.

Let’s talk about V-nail this time. The selection of the V-nail size (to be used on a project) normally depends on the width of the molding. The rule says that it is always important to select a V-nail that has a size of 3/4 and 2/3 of the molding’s thickness. Shorter V-nails make the joints fail. You wouldn’t want to see these joints open easily, would you? Longer V-nails, on the other hand, can punch through the frame’s front face. 

Step # 3: Glue the Frame

Once you made sure that the joints of the frames are perfectly mitered, you can have them securely fit together. This time, spread enough wood glue unto every frame joint. Then, grab a corner clamp to hold the frame together. This tool can help you fit around the frame that you want to join. Go ahead and draw the frame together by tightening it in two directions. Hold it in place and wait for the glue to set unto the material. Some woodworkers put C-clamp on every corner of the frame. This keeps the frame’s front edges from flushing. Here’s another thing though. Remember that every time you use clamps and glue on the joints, immediately wipe out the excess glue on the surface using a clean wet rag. This process steers you clear from extra sanding. 

Step # 4: Support and Reinforce the Joints

If you are thinking about the simplest form of joint reinforcement, nail your attention on finish nails or brads. Once the glue has set into the wood, use a brad nailer or a hammer to tack in brads or finish nails into the frame. Screws are good joint reinforcements too. Some frame makers cover the screws with plugs to countersink them. Other woodworkers find hardwood splines pleasing when it comes to reinforcing frame joints. First, cut a groove in every corner of the frame. Next, place the frame at a 45-degree angle through a table saw. Then, have the hardwood splines be cut similarly to the size of the saw blade’s thickness. Now, attach every spline into the groove using wood glue. Lastly, use a handsaw to trim it once the glue has completely set. Get ready to sand this time. 

Additional Tips

A scrap Wood Guide Is Helpful To Achieve Seamless Fit 

Getting perfectly-mitered frame parts or cuts is impossible unless you make sure to butt it up with the rest of the frame corners you are connecting. Clamp mitered scraps, a tape, or a wood guide is such a creative move as far as woodworking is concerned. The moment you have glued all the parts of the project to its proper places, get rid of the scraps. Failure to do so can make those “supposed-to-be temporary” wood guides permanent because of the stray glue on the surface. 

Work on One Miter At a Time

Suppose you are working on a door or window frame or edge-banding a table; keep an eye on the rule “do one thing at a time” in mind. Fitting one miter at a time is ideal. Have a test piece by cutting a miter on a scrap of molding. After getting the perfectly-fitted miter, go ahead and put a mark unto the succeeding wood pieces. Now, cut and join the miters to be attached without nailing either of them. When you are working on an edge-banding project, you’ll find success in the aforementioned project if you religiously follow the same rule or process. 

Make Sure That the Glue Has Dried Up To Avoid Flaws & Inaccuracies 

The moment you see inaccuracies and surface flaws during nailing, there must be something wrong with the gluing process. The joints are more exposed to inaccuracies if the glue has not completely dried up. Problems like this happen during nailing. On the contrary, you won’t see any gap at the frame’s seam if the frame is properly glued and that the wood glue has been left to dry before moving on to the process of nailing. 

No doubt, gluing and nailing make joining frame corners time-consuming. You need a handful of patience and attention to detail if you want to achieve perfectly- joined frame corners. 

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