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For many years, I’ve purchased several various-type framing clamps. As you have noted, I’ve always experienced certain problems with each clamp. The framing clamp that I use on a regular basis, is shop made and the materials can be purchased cheap at any hardware or box store. It’s a combination of a standard ratchet strap and a galvanized corner brace. A photo of my combo is included below. Both items come in a variety of sizes. Size purchase, depends on your project’s wood thickness. My size suggestions are noted in the photos, but I stock a variety for both light and heavy duty uses. For storing the straps, I pull the webbing tight and wrap the webbing onto the clamp, in a spooling fashion. Then secure it with velcro or a rubber band.

For picture frames: If inside routing is desired, I first rout the inside of each frame piece with the desired bit -- and then miter the corners. Routing first, guarantees sharp inside corners. The pieces are then glued to make a frame with the braces at each corner, using the ratchet strap to tighten. Tighten just until the glue starts to ooze out, as you don’t need a lot of pressure to close the joints tightly. I then use a damp cloth to wipe any wet glue from each frame corner and look for any gaps. If any, just tighten the strap. When the glue is dried, I retrieve the frame and complete any corner rounding, outside routing, splining/dowel support, final sanding and finishing. Also, outside corner shaping is always easier than trying to glue up an already-shaped corner, especially with your project’s choice of only 2 rounded corners. I find it unnecessary to place padding of any type between the frame and metal braces. The wood glue dries and is easily removed from the metal. But, you can always place a piece of wax paper inside of each brace for easier cleanup.

With your irregular-shaped glueing like octagons, hexagons, etc., the ratchet strap alone works well for tightening just about any angle joint. Rather than solid materials, I use 1/4" thick rubber strips (box store or plumbing store purchase) between the strap and each joint. The flexible strips help to provide equal tension on each joint.


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