American Woodworker

Important Information >>


Tips for Better Picture Frames


Tips for Better Picture Frames

Frame like a pro with simple tools.

By Dave Munkittrick

Purchase the complete version of this woodworking technique story from

Blind splines

Until somebody discovers a miracle glue for end grain, miter joints will need reinforcement. Nails work, but pounding them in delicate frame material can be risky. Blind splines offer invisible reinforcement without nails. Cut the slots on a router table using a guide board and a 1/8-in. slot cutter. Each piece is cut face up (mark the faces as a reminder). Feed the stock from the right for one cut and from the left for the second cut.

Cut the splines from a strip of hardwood with a 1-in. plug cutter and orient the grain perpendicular to the joint for strength.

Click any image to view a larger version.

Four-point frame clamp

This shop-made frame clamp puts equal pressure on all four corners of your frame at once, for quick, hassle-free assembly. Use scraps of paper towel under each joint to absorb glue squeeze out. Set the pivoting corner blocks to fit your frame. Apply enough clamp pressure to hold the frame together but still allow you to align the pieces for a perfect fit. Finally, clamp tight.


Matting and mounting


1. Lay out the mat opening with a marking gauge. You can easily make your own from a block of wood and some 5/8-in. dowel.

4. Position the artwork in the mat opening. A simple block of wood with some acid-free mat board glued on the bottom keeps the artwork from shifting as the mat is raised and lowered for positioning. Don’t be tempted to use your finger as a hold-down, acids and oils from your skin will cause the artwork to deteriorate over time.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker August 2001, issue #88.

August 2001, issue #88

Purchase this back issue.

Purchase the complete version of this woodworking technique story from