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.
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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