How to Make a Wood Frame with Acrylic Glazing, Part 1: The Frame

The power tools we’ll be using to make the frame are:

table saw
miter saw
nail gun with compressor and 18-gauge finish nails
palm sander

Framing materials are:

2 x 2 clear pine boards (no knots). Keep in mind that the actual measurements will be more like 1 1/2 x 1 1/2.
1/16 inch clear acrylic (we’re using non-glare)
3/16 inch plywood (optional)

When calculating the measurements for your frame, You’ll have to figure out how many feet of 2 x 2″ pine board you’ll need to accommodate your art. Measure all sides of your piece, then add 24 inches (so you can have 6 extra inches per side for miter cuts). Add 1/8 inch to each of the 4 sides so your art will have 1/8 inches of wiggle room on all sides. It shouldn’t fit too tightly in the frame.

Here’s a diagram of the profile we’ll be cutting from the wood:

FrameProfileE

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can see how the artwork will fit behind the face of the frame and be held into place because of the profile’s L shape.

Your measurements may be different than ours, your frame will need to accommodate the size and support the weight of your art. We commonly use these profile measurements for artwork up to 42 inches square.

START:

We start by ripping our pine board down to 1 3/8 by 1 3/8 inches with the table saw.

It’s important to mark your wood with a pencil so you’ll know where the face of the frame will be at all times.

Now we lower the blade to cut the inside dimensions of the profile, our 1/2-inch and 1 inch cuts. This gives us our L shape.

Next we’ll use the miter saw and cut off one end of the wood to make a 45 degree miter cut.

Now measure from the inside corner of the cut (not the outside) to determine the length of your piece, then adjust your saw and cut the other end.

Once you’re sure your first cut is correct, you can use that piece to transfer your marks for your next cut. This ensures the two pieces will be identical in length.

Then cut your other two sides.

Dry fit the pieces together to make sure everything is perfect. Dust off your frame pieces or protect your artwork to keep it clean, and drop you art into it to make sure it fits.

Now it’s time to assemble the frame. It helps to have a scrap of plywood that you know is square to line up the corners of the frame. It also gives stability while nailing. Use wood glue to put the corners together.

We’re using 18 gauge finish nails in our nail gun. For this size frame, we put one nail in one side of a corner and two in the other side of the same corner.

Put some pressure on the corners with clamps while the glue dries.

Use wood filler to fill the holes, gaps, and any imperfections. When it’s dry, sand it smooth. We’re using 120 grit sandpaper.

We like to use water-based latex paint. Start with a base coat of primer, then at least two coats of color.

Next we’ll use the table saw to cut a plywood backing board. We’re using 3/16 inch luan. This step is optional; in leu of this wooden backing, you can glue brown paper over the back of your frame to finish it off.

We’re using a score and snap method to cut the acrylic. Your acrylic may come with paper on it; leave the paper on for this step to protect it from scratches.

Clamp down a metal straight edge where you want to cut your acrylic and use a scoring tool similar to this one, or a utility knife. Make several passes over the acrylic with the tool rather than trying to make just one deep groove.

Move the scored line just off the edge of your table and move your metal straight edge to the table’s edge, so it’s right next to but not on top of the scored line. Clamp down your straight edge. Using both hands, move the acrylic up and down to snap the piece off.

Part 2 of this video will show you how to put your art into the frame and finish off the project.

  • Jennie Digs

    Looks like a family project here. That husband of yours is not only cute, talented and wonderful, but I can attest to the fact that he’s the best son-in-law in the whole world! The two of you make quite a team. Yah Team Glose!

  • Diane

    Thanks Pam. Don’t have the power tools, but loved the video. I did learn how to properly cut my acrylic, thanks. Looking forward to Part 2.

    • You are welcome, Diane, very glad the video helped.