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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For Mothers Day I made my Mom a sapele picture frame. I was overall pleased with how it turned out - not exactly flawless miters, but not too bad considering I rarely make frames. It got me thinking about the best way to do my glue ups. I have those Bessey 90 Degree Corner clamps, which are quite good. But for smaller picture frames like this, there’s not space in the middle for this style clamp on all four corner…the threaded rods butt into each other. So in this case, knowing my 45’s were dead on, I glued up the pairs separately then joined those pairs with a band clamp. Not great practice, I know and sure enough that 4th corner reflects it. Sometimes I’ll do that blue tape thing when making boxes, but I’ve not had great results on thinner workpieces like frames. Guess what I’m saying is, I’m always trying to get better. And find excuses to buy more clamps! I’d welcome suggestions on your preferred clamps, jigs, and set ups for picture frames. Particularly smaller ones where you can’t use four right angle corner clamps. Thanks!
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
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.

thank you! I more or less have the same order of steps, but because I do frames so infrequently I do things slightly differently each time. Usually I’ll end up overlooking something! In this case, I cut the miters before inside rabbetting and immediately realized my blunder. So I cut my rabbets on a table saw, which thankfully worked out fine thanks to the GRR-RIPPER push block….

I used a band clamp similar to one of your photos (pic below) but it’s missing those little plastic corner angle thingies. If I recall they were useless and I probably tossed them. So to follow your approach, I’d imagine the loose metal corner braces would work much better! I’ll give that a shot sometime.


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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