I made this letter art for the shop I just retired from. It was a thank you gift for how good they treated me for 13 years. Unfortunately for me the shop had a very long name. With 4” x 6” letters the frame ended up being over 5 feet wide. I needed to make a frame plenty stout so it wouldn’t flex and break the glass. I decided to go with 3/4”oak with a dark walnut inlay.
The first step I did, after ripping 2” wide boards, was to cut my miter joints. To insure strong corners, I cut the joints with a half lap, making the lap joints show on the top and bottom, where they’re less noticeable.
Also at this time saw the miter cuts for the “French Cleat” hanger and the other three surrounding boards that go on the back of the frame. Don’t cut the 45 degree angle on the french cleat yet, or assemble anything.
Next step is to drill the holes for the dowels for holding the french cleat hanger. It is easier to set up for drilling the holes before you cut the 45 degree angle on the french cleat.
Now you can cut the 45 degree angle for the french cleat hanger. Cut the matching cleat for the wall also. The wall cleat will need to be no more than ½” thick to allow space for the screws and washers on the back side of the picture frame.
Next I cut an 1/8” and a 5/16” slot in the frame for the walnut inlay. A router table is a must for this.
With a 1/8th inch bandsaw blade I was able to rip the 1/8” by 1/8” walnut strips with no problem.
Before installing the walnut I cut a 3/16” rabbet on the back side for the glass and back panel.
To soften the edges on the face of the frame, you can cut some slight angles. This should be the last step, so that you have a flat surface to work with when making all the previous cuts.
Now you can install the walnut accent strips. Spread a thin layer of glue in the slots trying to avoid squeeze out.
After the glue sets up use a plane to knock down the walnut to almost flush with the frame. Then sand only the inside edge of the frame pieces. It is easier to sand these now with a power sander, before everything is assembled. The rest you don’t want to sand down until everything is assembled, so the joints will match up with sanding.
Before gluing the french cleat on, you will want to cut some notches in it to allow room for a screwdriver, to screw on the back panel.
To finish the frame off, my preferred product is “Tru-Oil”. All you need is a soft rag to wipe it on. Three to four coats really makes it shine.
To put the pictures on the panel board I just used double sided scotch tape. Start in the center of the panel and work your way to the sides, to insure the space at the edges will be even.
The rabbets were cut so that the back panel extends a hair out past the back of the frame. Using screws and washers is an easy way to snug up the glass and back panel tight.