How you can achieve a smooth join and perfect corners when building your own picture frame.
Having a professional framing service attached to our company has given us the ability to trial and experiment with different techniques. Our frame technician is sharing his trade secrets to help rid the world of wonky picture frames. Here are his 7 tips for perfect corners.
1. Make sure your cutting blade is sharp.
Before cutting your moulding it’s best to check that your saw blade is sharp. You can do this by practicing on the end of the moulding. If the moulding is hard to cut and looks like it’s being shredded then you need to get a new blade on the saw.
When choosing a saw blade for cutting picture frame mouldings, Make sure the TPI (Tooth Per Inch) of the saw you use is relatively small around 18 – 24TPI. This allows for a finer cut which normally work better on mouldings.
It’s a good idea to have spare blades ready to go, so you don’t have to stop working on your frame.
New blades for the Nobex can be purchased here:
2. Use a mitre trimmer if your saw isn’t producing perfect corner cuts.
Most saws don’t have a fine or quick enough blade to get a perfect cut every time. What do we use?
Introducing the mitre trimmer, this tool allows you to trim the end of the moulding giving you an incredibly clean finish every time. This clean cut allows for effortless joining of the corners your picture frame.
The mitre trimmer is used to give the perfect mitre finish to sawn ends of moulding sections, removing the need for filling or “touching up” after joining.
3. Make sure your moulding is straight and not twisted.
Before cutting any moulding you should firstly, check it for any dents or defects along the surface of the moulding. Secondly and most importantly check for twists in the wood. Twists will make the joining of the frame almost impossible and even if you do manage it, over time the frame will continue to twist and could even break the glass or not sit flat on the wall.
4. Don’t join or cut on knots.
In line with the above tip, when checking the surface of your moulding, be sure to point out any knots in the moulding. Knots are hard to cut through and some can become detached from the moulding leaving you with big holes. The hardened centre of knots also makes the joining very difficult so best to avoid if possible. Knots are mainly in natural wood moulding ranges like pine but on a whole most ranges won’t have them.
5. Colour the inside edge of the moulding before joining it.
For picture frame moulding with dark surface colours, you can colour the inside edge of the moulding before joining it. This prevents any light colours of the wood showing through any of the small gaps ruining your perfectly cut corners. This only really applies to dark mouldings as it’s less noticeable on lighter coloured mouldings.
It is worth investing in a couple of pens in shades of browns and blacks so the colour match can be as close as possible.
6. For brittle picture frame mouldings wrap tape around it.
Some mouldings can be brittle and prone to chipping and splintering. Most of the time these mouldings are more suited to the professional set up with high speed, quality saws. However, there is a trick that can help.
By wrapping a piece of framing backing tape around the area you are going to cut, it can add a layer of support to the moulding surface helping it stay intact.
7. Use a wax filler to cover any gaps.
Sometimes despite all your precautions your frame may still have a gap. It happens at a professional level as well as a hobby level so don’t think you’re doing it wrong, sometimes it’s just how the moulding joins. The final trick up our sleeve for perfect corners is using wax fillers to fill any gaps that are still there.
If you don’t have wax fillers in the colour you require then you can use natural wood filler and paint it.
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