Christine Profile Frames Completed!

If you recall from the last POST about this particular series of frames I was getting down to the finish line.  Many steps required to complete this series of 15, 4″ x 6″ frames.  In that post the process of making the molding was talked about and I’ve received several questions on my blog asking what I use to create the profiles.  When you look at picture frame molding they are basically a series of coves, outside curves, and angles arranged in a pleasing way.  If the work requires a number of frames like this job I tend to use more of power tools like the tablesaw, router table, or cutters in my antique Rockwell Shaper.  My personal preference though is to go “hybrid” and use power tools for the roughing out but hand tools for the finish work.  I’d rather work with the quietness of a beading plane than the noise and dust of a router anytime! This POST illustrates that process.

Christine Profile

This picture shows the Christine Profile, you can see that there are a couple of coves, a chamfered outside edge, a decorative sight edge, and a rabbet.  Whenever a job like this is taken on it’s best to come up with a systematic approach — discussed that in the first blog.  Prior to assembly everything was laid out and ready to go.

My favorite clamp is the Merle band clamp.  I’ve had one of these forever but knew that if I could only glue up one frame at a time it would take a long time to complete this job.  Luckily, found 2 of these used from one seller on eBay for less than $50.00 including shipping — nice!  All of my frames are assembled with biscuits/glue and clamped for at least 4-6 hours.  That way 3 were clamped in the morning and the other 3 late afternoon.  I’ve only had one joint like this fail and that was on a frame (for my daughter no less) that went from the dry desert up to Spokane, Washington!  The frames were then finished, five at a time.

The finish process on these was with spray paint.  The technique for them was to apply a red primer followed by a satin black.  Timing is everything and unfortunately, paint manufacturers are constantly changing their formulas which means timing is everything.  Can’t stress enough to make test pieces.  The goal is to create a finish that looks as if it’s been around for some time, if you want a new looking frame buy the plastic ones at your local big store box!  I was given artistic license on this job and wanted to rub back some of the black to reveal the undercoat.  This is accomplished with wax and a white scotch pad.  Very difficult to photograph that but I’ve tried here.  This process is one of the few times I’ll wear gloves, that black gets into my pores and is hard to remove.

Tried to be random in the rubbing back process.  Some frames I concentrated on sight edge, outer edge, coves, the face, etc.  I’ve seen commercial frames where the same “rub out” occurs every 6″ or so.  It’s always wise to mold a bit more wood than what you think you need.  Murphy’s Law right? Seems that if I don’t make extra I need it but make the extra and you end up with more.  In this case it worked out just fine, Diane needed a 14″ x 18″ frame for a recently competed painting and also liked this profile.  There was enough left to make her frame, however; gold was on her mind!  For a comparison here is the same profile finished two ways.  For her frame there is a base coat of red burnisher/sealer followed by a brushed on coat of Japan Black.  Between those two processes the sight edge was gilded with composition gold.  This was all rubbed back with oil and rottenstone.  Other than the appearance, the major difference is that her frame took about 3 times as long to finish as the others but wanted to show how the same profile can be finished in different ways.

My client has been pleased with what she’s seen through the blog with her frames and will be picking them up soon — looking forward to seeing her reaction when she sees them in person.

 

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Christine Profile Frame Progress

As mentioned, this project falls into the realm of mass production but still is enjoyable to me.  What’s that saying about if you enjoy what you’re doing it really isn’t work?  That’s how I feel about this because you do have to keep on your toes, sometimes repetitious processes lend themselves to mistakes more so than a singular complicated process.  In any case, thought I’d share the progress so far and ……. for those inquiring minds that want to know these things there is approximately 6.45 hours of actual work time into this project.

Here’s the beginning and ending stages of the work so far — Basswood from Woodworkers Source was of great quality.

The first step was to rip those wide boards to 3″ width, they were 6′ long and right around 10″ wide.  Creating the profile required three separate set-ups on the router table plus a dado set up to create the rabbet.  Pieces were then cut to 11″ and 13″ and the outer edge was planed smooth while the coves were sanded by using a tadpole sander.  Here’s a collage to illustrate the process:

After this work was complete the pieces were all mitered to the required size.  This was followed by cutting a slot for a #20 biscuit in each end.  Just curious, do any of you that use a biscuit joiner find that the biscuit is usually too tight?  I end up cutting the slot twice; for the second cut I increase the depth ever so slightly.  This allows for a bit of movement as the clamps are placed on the frame.

It’s always tricky cutting the biscuits on the left side of the frame, good thing I’m somewhat ambidextrous!  Looks like it’s time for glue ups!

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Picture Frames & DMT Stones

Over the weekend I was able to install the two large floater frames recently completed, aka The VanDamFloat.  Might as well name them in my clients honor!  The paintings are quite large and this step wouldn’t have been possible without their help.  After laying a protective pad on that beautiful dining table you see in the picture, the frame was placed face up.  Next the painting was inserted into it and spacers located it properly within the frame.  I had pre-drilled holes  in the frame so with the use of a gimlet, the stretchers were then pre-drilled and the frame attached with screws from the back.  The rectangular one measures 3′ x 6′  while the other was approximately 4′ square.  As you can see, the frame itself is minimal and there is a 3/4″ reveal all the way around.  They were very pleased with the frames and it’s difficult to see the slight reveal of red clay on it.  These frames isolate the paintings from the rest of the room and put them into their own world — agree?

Christine Profile

Keeping the frame theme going, there was mention of a possible commission of 15 small frames for a local artists’ upcoming show.  That came through so that’ll be the next project coming out of the shop.  The size of these is 4″ x 6″ and the profile will be milled from Basswood.  There is a good possibility that this job will lead to a furniture commission of creating and building a portable bar.  My client is in the process of buying and renovating a house and I committed to working on this really beautiful Walnut chest of drawers they found.  It’s in the Mid-Century modern style and will be used for a double vanity.  The drawers need to be modified to clear the plumbing so that’ll be my contribution to that project.

Lastly, let me talk about the DMT continuous diamond stones.  Always trying to keep organized so decided the best way to safeguard this investment was to make holders for them — heck; they tell me these will last my lifetime and then they can be passed on!  Simple plywood and Alder holders, the small one clamps on to the edge of the carving bench while the larger one clamps into the vise on my main bench.  The holes are to make it easier to remove them and you can see the storage rack for the 3″ x 8″ stones in the background.

 

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Shop Happenings Since Last Post

VanDam Floater Frame

Waiting to go home

I’m in a holding pattern on the two, large floater frames right now.  In the last post they were almost completed.  Thankfully my client is willing to help with the installation of them and the earliest time he’s available is this coming Saturday.  In the meantime they are standing against the wall and I make very sure not to get anything sharp or hard around them.  They have a very large dining table and we will lay the frame on it (on a pad) then insert the painting into the frame.  Next,  3/4″ spacers will be inserted between the frame and painting and then the frame will be attached through the back.  There are pre-drilled, oversized holes for that purpose.  The paintings are already wired quite securely so that will stay, there may need to be a relief cut into the frame for the holders to clear but a coping saw should take care of that without any problem.  In case you’re curious, the picture on the wall is my daughters graduation picture and the MGB I restored for her; 1996!

New Sharpening Stones

Sharpening, one of the skills that’s needed to work wood successfully and another one of those where there are a bizillion opinions on how to achieve it.  Like many of you that have been at this craft for a long time, my first sharpening work was done on an assortment of oil stones.  Then, somewhere around the mid-80’s (I think) the Japanese water stones became the thing to use and wow, did they ever give an edge and shine on our blades!  If you use them you know their downside; somewhat messy, constant flattening required, and prone to cracking which I’m guessing is a result of needing to pre-soak them prior to use which is yet another downside.  The quality stones I’ve had for 5-6 years have developed cracks so I’ve been wrestling with buying another, highly rated water stone or go with something else. One other consideration during this process is that with water stones I didn’t have the ability to sharpen a tool quickly while in use.  My habit would be to work with a tool that needed sharpening until it just didn’t perform at all.  Then eventually, when there were a number of them it would be time for a long sharpening session.

Ceramic and Diamond stones seemed to be the new way to go.  After lots of internet research and asking questions my choice were the DMT Continuous Diamond stones.  Ceramic, notably Shaptons were highly rated and in the running but according to what I found out, they too need to be flattened and their recommended flattening plate is $300.00+!  After talking with Kurt a couple of times at the Woodcraft store in Chandler, I was on my way to purchase the 3″ x 8″ stones in the Fine, Extra Fine, and Extra-Extra Fine grits.  I’ve been using their smaller stones in the fine and extra fine for my carving tools and liked them a lot.  You don’t get the “shine” with these that you do with water stones but a leather strop will let you achieve that.

Thought I’d make a slide show of the progress and eventual results of the first session with these DMT stones.  Do any others of you use that saying: “if you see something, you have nothing” when it comes to sharpening?  Can’t recall who I got that from but basically, if you look at your edge and see something, you’re not sharp.  Using Ron Hock’s definition of a sharp edge being where two planes come together you shouldn’t see anything at all.  That’s what I meant in the second slide.  The plane is an old Stanley block plane that I’ve had for at least 40 years and it’s the original blade.  Kurt suggested making a storage tray for them where they stood on edge to save space and avoid banging together, a piece of scrap plywood and some spiral glue dowels got that accomplished!  After the final work with the extra-extra fine stone it was suggested to remove the wire edge that is formed by the sharpening process on a strop rather than on the stone like you would with a water stone.  That worked and added just a final bit of polish to the blade.  So far – so good!

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New Work

There’s a potential framing job on the horizon, one that’s currently having a corner sample made up for.  It’s for a run of 10-15 frame that measure 4″ x 6″.  We’re discussing the finish but leaning towards a satin black over red clay and then antiqued/burnished to give a sense of age.  The other thing that I don’t want to share just yet is a wild and crazy carving concept I’ve had in my head for quite some time.  Some of you may recall my carved Carhartt Work Shorts and it’s along that same concept.  If you’re interested in seeing what I’m talking about, here’s a LINK to the shorts.  Tell you the truth, with all of the political and social turmoil/B.S. going on these days I need something which will allow me to escape that.  Nothing like getting engrossed in a carving project to make the time and world go away!

Old Work

Sliding Door, Alder

I finally had the chance to take a picture of the installed, sliding door.  Very difficult to get enough distance in the room but you can see how it looks in place.

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VanDam Float; New Picture Frame Commission

If you saw my last post it had to do with the approach I took to making a floater type frame for Diane’s latest painting.  I gave a definition and explained how it was made, here’s a link if you’d like to check it out.  That must of been a premonition for my next commission because I was asked to replicate a frame for a client.  They have three beautiful paintings by the same artist and only one of them was framed.  These are stretched canvas on 1 1/2″ thick stretcher bars, the edges have been painted so they asked for a wider reveal (3/4″) than what was done on Diane’s frame.  One of the paintings measures 40″ x 45″ and the other is 36″ x 72″.  The frame itself is minimal, only 1/2″ thick x 2″ wide.  For that size of a painting I knew the frame needed to be reinforced.  Oh yes, the name VanDam Float was chosen because that’s the clients name!  After making up a corner sample to show them, they gave me a deposit and we’re off and running.

For the frame itself Basswood will be used and then 3/8″ Baltic Birch plywood will make up the “float” area and serve to reinforce the frame.  I always enjoy the hand planing process, especially when it involves a board of this size.  This project started with an 8/4 thick piece of Basswood that was about 6″ wide and 10′ long.  Not having a power jointer of my own I’ll have the lumber yard sweeten one edge; aka straight line rip.  Then it’s time to put the old Stanley #7 Jointer plane to work.  Watching those shavings come through the throat always makes me feel good so thought I’d try to share it with you, probably should have had the camera a little further out there but you get the idea.  Always reminded of hearing that in shops of old they would nail the longest continuos shaving to the wall and whoever made it could sign it — got one almost 6′ long from this board!

Pretty straight forward process.  After one edge was planed smooth and square the board was ripped to 2 1/4 width, this will make 3 pieces for the frame so the process was repeated to get the rest.  One face was planed before to guide against the bandsaw fence for resawing the required 1/2″.  After resawing off one piece the sawn edge of the board was planed again and then resawn until all 3 pieces were cut.  These were run through the planer to a uniform thickness.  Now that those were ready it was time to rip the plywood down to 3″ wide strips.  Each of the boards have a 1/4″ x 1/4″ groove and the plywood has a corresponding tongue on one edge and end.  After cutting the sides to the required length the plywood and sides were glued together.

Corner Detail

To reinforce this frame and give the 1/2″ sides strength here’s what I came up with.  These joints are staggered around the frame, in other words the plywood goes to the miter on one end but is shy of the miter on the other.  Although you can’t see it in the picture, the plywood on the bottom piece has a tongue cut into it that glues into the groove on the piece.  The miter will be glued as well then have a few brads shot into to secure it while the glue dries.  There is also a masonite gusset that will be glued and clamped on the back over the plywood splice.  Lots of things going on at one time but by the end of the day, both frames have been assembled.  The 72″ one had to have the plywood spliced since Baltic Birch generally comes in 5′ square sheets.

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Floater Frame — A Furniture Builders Method

To be sure, if there’s one thing I can be accused of it’s of over-building and/or over-thinking a project.  Recently Diane asked for a floater frame for a recent work of hers.  I can’t show the completed picture of it as her painting hasn’t been revealed on her blog or to her gallery so all you’ll get is a teaser image!  Here’s a definition a  floater frame if it’s something you haven’t heard of before.  Where a traditional frame has the painting inserted from the back and held in place by the rabbet of the molding the floater frame has the painting inserted from the front.  Generally there is a gap between the painting and the frame which is painted black so the painting appears to “float” within the frame.

Like so many of us do, the first step was to do a YouTube search for how to do floater frames.  As with many instructions found on the web, most tended to be pretty crude consisting of different pieces of wood glued, stapled, or taped together.  These methods may be okay for a quick project but not the gallery quality framing needed for this work.  Diane asked for a gilded finish that allowed some wood to show through to compliment her painting which features a girl standing in front of a weathered, clapboard house.  Rather than cobble pieces of wood together the frame piece (1 3/4″ x 1 1/2″) has a 1/4″ groove cut in the inner surface.  Another 1/4″ x 1 1/2″ piece was milled to fit in that groove and support the painting.  Timber Woodworking and Machinery had some beautiful 8/4 Basswood for this project.  Just like with furniture work; joinery and glue results in better quality then using just glue and nails or staples.

After mitering to size, a #0 biscuit slot was cut into each end and the frame was then glued and clamped overnight.  I realize that this is easier for sizing, the gap of 1/4″ all around can be off a little one way or the other and no one will be able to tell!

Masking off the inner surfaces

The cut offs from the molding were used to experiment with the finish for this frame.  Prior to the size application, the face was taped off and the inner surfaces painted black.  Once that was dry it was time to tape off that black, inner surface and apply the oil size — lots of masking tape for this project!  My initial thought was to just apply a coat of slow set size and gild directly over that but apparently the Basswood absorbed too much of that to get good adhesion for the leaf.  A second coat was needed for good adhesion of the leaf.  In the future the frame will probably be sealed with shellac prior to applying the size.

 

After the gilding was complete and the frame thoroughly dry it was time to achieve that weathered look Diane wanted.  Using the cut-offs to experiment with the technique was a good choice.  Steel wool (4/0 oil free) will take down the gold but the results are rather scratchy and rough.  A slurry of rottenstone and denatured alcohol worked into the surface gave an okay effect but the rottenstone added a grayish, dirty effect to the finish.  The best results came from using a white scotch pad and denatured alcohol.  By wetting a 12″ section or so first and then going back with the DNA and pad I could remove bits of the leaf and expose the wood underneath.  The first, wetting application of the DNA was done with light pressure and moving the pad back and forth.  This softened the leaf slightly and also took away some of the abrasiveness of the pad.  Increased pressure and moving the pad in one direction allowed me to observe what was happening and stop (hopefully!) before going to far.  The surface felt slightly tacky but after drying for a couple of hours it was sealed with two coats of clear shellac applied with an air brush.  The final step for the frame was using the white scotch pad with Liberon Black Bison wax to smooth out and completely seal the frame.  I think that if you look at this picture the effect on the frame mimics the weathering on the house in the painting.  Most importantly though — Diane is very happy with it!

One final note about this frame.  Some of the video’s and info on the web suggested using double stick tape to mount the painting.  I opted to pre-drill the frame for #6 screws.  The holes are slightly oversized to allow for any slight adjustments.  Spacers (1/4″) were placed around the canvas when it was in the frame to locate and center it properly.  After pre-drilling the stretcher bars with a gimlet the screws and washers are attached and we’re done!

 

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Sliding Door Almost Complete

Smooth Plane prior to assembly

This sliding door is taking up most of the available floor space I have in the shop.  Roughly 5′ x 7′ means that when I have it on sawhorses now to do the finish work I can barely get around it, good thing I’m on the slender side!  Hit that point where there’s a definite light at the end of the tunnel.  The glass was ordered today, didn’t realize that because it’s tempered most glass shops are unable to cut it so it’ll be here in 7-10 days.  Since it’s in a door tempering is required by code and a wise move, well worth the added cost.  Before assembling the door each piece was smooth planed to remove those inevitable planer mill marks.  Even though there’ll probably be some minor sanding required after assembly my preference is to always have hand planed surfaces.

The assembly went pretty smoothly thanks to the help from  my wife, getting everything to line up and moving quickly to avoid having the glue set before the clamps were in place is always stressful to me.  The plywood (Cherry) has the first coat of Osmo PolyOil applied already.  We did it in two steps, in the morning half was assembled and left clamped until late afternoon when we completed the process.  Notice the cauls by each clamp, these worked well in spreading the pressure across the 5″+ wide pieces and also elevated the wood off of the clamps so there wouldn’t be any staining.  Each side of the joint was taped to catch the squeeze out from the glue.  Even though I could have gotten to the up side of the door, the back side was impossible; this seems to have worked.  I have an ancient set of Jorgensen I-Beam clamps that are 6′ long and even they developed some bowing as the pressure was applied!

Glass Recess

The next morning it was time to cut the recess where the glass will sits.  If you recall, each board had a 1/4″ x 3/8″ deep groove cut into all of the inside edges.  This accommodates the plywood and now that groove needed to be turned into a recess for the glass.  That was done by first making two passes with a 3/8″ rabbet bit in the router followed by a flush bit with a top mounted bearing to finish it off.  You can see the process in this picture.  Once the routing was complete the corners were squared off with a chisel.

Glass Stop

See this little piece of wood?  Unless you’re a woodworker folks wouldn’t believe how much time it takes to mill something like this!  First the stock needed to be milled to 9/16″ x 3/4″.  Next the 45° chamfer was cut on both sides on the router table.  Last of all was removing the required amount so that it retains the glass and lays flush with the top of the door.  This was accomplished on the tablesaw with a dado set.  The glass will sit in a bead of silicon and the glass stop will be secured with 23 gauge pins.  All that remains for the glass stop process is to miter them to fit the opening.

Since this project is taking up most of the shop floor space I’m contemplating putting it in the garage for the finishing process.  I’ll do 2 coats on each side so the plan is to do one in the morning and if it’s dry enough to flip by late afternoon flip it and do the other side.  Just repeat that until it’s finished.  One last step is to make a router template for the inset door pulls.  Shouldn’t be any problem being complete before the glass arrives.

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