Shape the Blank
1. Glue together a template sized precisely, as shown in Fig. B
(below). Drill shank holes for the screws that will hold this template
to the frame blank.
2. Plane wood for the blank to 1/2-in. thickness. This piece must be
at least 12 in. long to safely pass through your planer. You can skip
this step and use thicker stock, of course—your finished frame will
just look heftier.
3. Cut the frame blank to size, 1/8 in. wider and longer than your template.
4. Center the template on the blank and attach it with one screw.
With a pencil, trace the picture opening onto the blank. Mark the
template so you’ll use the same screw hole when you remount it in Step
5. After you’ve removed the template, drill access holes for the
saber-saw blade in the blank, near the corners of the picture opening.
Then rough-saw the opening 1/8 in. or less away from the traced line.
6. Remount the template using all four screws.
7. Using a flush-trim bit (see Sources, below), rout the blank to
match the template (Photo 1). Feed the blank clockwise to rout the
inside and counterclockwise to rout the outside. Tear-out may occur at
the corners when you rout the blank’s outside edges, but it’s OK,
because the routed blank is still oversize. It will be trimmed to its
final size later.
8. Complete the picture opening by installing a rabbeting bit and
routing a 9/32-in.-deep x 3/8-in.-wide rabbet for the glass, matte
board, image and back. Square the rabbet’s corners with a chisel.
Rout the Flutes
I’ll explain how to rout the basic frame, but you can use the same steps to create several variations.
The frame’s 1/2-in.-wide flutes are routed with a 3/4-in.-dia.
round-nose bit that’s partially recessed in the router table. This
setup creates shallow flutes that look much better than the deep flutes
a 1/2-in.-dia. bit would create.
9. Raise the bit to set the flute’s width (Photo 2). The flutes
should measure about 1/64 in. less than 1/2-in. wide. Flutes wider than
1/2 in. won’t work.
10. Lock the fence in position to rout the outside flutes (Photo 3).
When properly located, these flutes leave 1 in. for the two remaining
11. Mill a pair of long spacers exactly 1/2 in. wide and install
them behind the router table’s fence. A clamped-on stop holds them in
place (Photo 4).
12. Rout the outside flutes all around the frame blank (Photo 5). A
shop-made push block with an insert that fits into the rabbeted picture
opening makes routing super-easy and safe. (Fig. C, below).
13. Loosen the fence and remove one spacer. Firmly push the fence
against the remaining spacer and clamp it in place. This adjustment
moves the fence exactly 1/2 in. so you can rout the middle flutes. As
you rout across the grain, use a slow feed rate to minimize tear-out
between the two flutes.
14. To rout the inner flutes, simply remove the remaining spacer and reposition the fence against the stop.
15. Trim the frame’s sides on the tablesaw (Photo 6).
16. Sand the flutes to eliminate ridges and blend uneven spacing.
Sanding also gets rid of tear-out between the flutes. I use Tadpole
contour sanders to help with this job (see Sources, below), but a
detail sander or sandpaper wrapped around a dowel will also do the
17. To make a stand for the frame, saw a 12-degree bevel on one edge of a long blank. Then cut the stand to size.
18. Glue the stand to the back of the frame. You don’t have to use
clamps. Just brush a coat of glue on the stand’s beveled edge. With the
frame lying on its face, press the stand onto the frame, flush with the
bottom edge. Rub the stand back and forth to set the glue; then let the
assembly dry. As an alternative, the EaselMate frame stand doesn’t
require gluing and it’s removable (below).
19. Apply your favorite finish to both sides of the frame. I prefer
aerosol-spray finishes for small jobs like this, because they’re fast,
but you won’t have to worry about drips if you choose a wipe-on finish.
Or you could be adventurous (see “Great Fun To Finish,” right).
20. Install the glass, matte board, image and the back. Then screw
on the turn buttons (see Sources, below). You should be able to use the
screw holes that remain from fastening the template.