New Frame Commission and Drawing Desk Follow-Up


Sophia’s Drawing Desk

Before I begin to talk about the frame commission allow me to share the final results of the drawing desk.  If you missed that post here is a LINK to it which includes a YouTube video showing how it works.  Let’s backtrack a bit; I met Sophia while working as a costume model, she was one of the artists.  During the breaks she mentioned how sitting at her desk at home to draw was killing her back and I ended up designing this for her.  The greatest reward in this business, IMHO; is the appreciation of your work.  She was so happy with the results and sent me this picture of the desk in her studio within an hour of leaving the shop!  I think the dovetailed Walnut base looks great on her table.  During my 31 years as a teacher I often shared this with my students — the money you get for your work is nice but you pay a bill, buy a tool, and it’s gone.  However, having someone tell you how much they like and appreciate what you’ve created will be in your mind forever.

An artist who’s commissioned me to do a number of frames for in the past, Tim Rees; contacted me recently and placed an order for 8 frames.  They range in size from 8″ x 10″ to 24″ x 48″.  The profile is one designed for him previously so it’ll be named the Rees Profile in his honor.  It’s a clean, simple molding that measures 1 1/2″ thick and 2″ wide.  They are close cornered frames and his preference for finishing is that the surface is smooth (black) with no visible wood grain.  Semi-production work required to mill the approximate 36 board feet of 8/4 Basswood to the required size and add the rabbet.  Machines are my apprentices for that and then the final frames will all be finished off with a smooth plane prior to a red clay burnisher sealer.  As always, corners are assembled with glue and biscuits then clamped overnight to achieve the strongest possible joints(Link to my process page).  Here’s a picture essay to illustrate the process, after bringing home the raw 8/4 Basswood from Woodworkers Source  it is cut and planed to the required dimensions:

To make cutting the rabbet and mitering easier, these pieces were cut to length plus an additional amount for miters.  These frames are various sizes so rather than measure and mark each piece individually I marked the required lengths on a piece of tape using the cutting list as a guide — you know the saying about measuring twice and cutting once, make that 3-4 times!

After that step was complete a fine tooth crosscut blade was installed along with my mitering sled.  Again, if you’re unfamiliar with that, here’s that LINK to my process page.  Mitered pieces were then received slots for biscuits and were glued, clamped, and allowed to dry overnight.  Gluing seems like a mysterious process in a way; for me though, if I get an “ooze line” along the entire joint I feel assured of its’ strength.  I allow that to skin over before using an old chisel to remove it.

Three down, five to go

I have three, Merle steel band clamps which I would recommend to anyone making frames.  There’s an assembly concept that about freshly cut joinery creating a stronger glue joint so since I have three of the clamps I only miter, biscuit, and glue up three frames at a time.  At this point all 8 plus one for a painting by Diane have been assembled.  Finish is next!

About woodworksbyjohn

I'm a retired woodshop teacher. I build one of a kind furniture pieces and custom picture frames. You can see some of my currently available work, boxes, carvings through my Etsy store: Contact me about your project -- always up for the challenge of unique work.
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