Photo Frame making advice

Hi all, wasn’t sure if TALK or DISCORD is where this question should live… Does anyone have experience making and assembling medium to large frames for photographs? This includes the routing work on the wood as these will not be square wood frames. If so, I just need a little help getting started! Thanks so much!


Sending out the Burt Signal.

burt signal

What shape will they be?

I’d like to make about 30-40 of them, all rectangular in different sizes. The molding would have the same profile in a range of sizes from around 16" X 24" to 30” X 48. Here’s a link to a frame with a somewhat similar profile, though dimensions are not accurate.

I am curious - are you planning on buying the frame moulding as shown in your link and then mitering them to size at the Makerspace and somehow joining the corners?

Or do you want to mill that shape, cut the rabbet, take it elsewhere to paint it black (if spraying it) and then completing the frames at wood shop here?

90 degree angles are still “square” in rectangular form…

Take it from someone who has been a picture framer for 30+ years.

If you insist on cutting and building that many frames on your own, just buy the moulding, don’t try to mill it yourself. If you’re lucky, you can buy what you need directly behind DMS from the Universal Arquati warehouse.

If you’re using that low and wide style of moulding, hand building is gonna be a bitch, especially if you don’t have any experience. That type of moulding is best joined with either a v-nailer or a Hoffman dovetail machine, neither of which is available at DMS.


Since I’m not on a time crunch, I had planned on doing as much as I can, including the molding design at DMS, and purchasing whatever other framing equipment needed. That said, the obviously knowledgeable “HardSuit” has me rethinking that!

Thank you for the cautionary advice! This is probably going to be an easy going project but only if I can get the finished price down to something I can afford. I checked with everyone from Michaels to several private frame shops and the larger frames were just not an option price wise. I’ll check the link you recommended and see if there’s anything I like AND if they’ll even let me purchase. The first couple manufacturers required I was a professional with an established frame shop. Yikes!

Problem I’ve found with routing picture frames is if you do the profile first, it’s hard to glue up. If you glue up first, the miters are prone to chip out.

I’ve found it easiest to glue up first, then route, but just buy and bring your own bit for the routing so it’s nice and sharp.

Basically the workflow is:
Cut to length → rabbets → miters → glue up → splines → route → finish

Also don’t forget to make sure your glass will fit in the frame! That’s always a fun part to find out that it definitely won’t and having to impromptu learn glass cutting and/or chiseling your rabbets back a bit.

Thanks for taking the time, and the workflow. I’m going to have a sit-down with myself and decide if my appetite for doing all this myself is greater than my ability to learn what I don’t know!

Go for it. You’ll learn a ton. Maybe try simpler routing profile for your first go (really need a ‘shaper’ for that one) but there’s always suitable scrap pieces in the bins to practice on.

To be fair I am also a custom picture framer, but I’ve only been at it 15 ish years.

If you have plenty of “free time” and endless patience - then doing it yourself may be the way to go… Do you mind if I ask what your planned budget is for your 30" x 48" frame is? Just for the finished moulding assembled in to a four sided frame ready for your art.