||The fit should be snug when the
parts are slid together, but you should
not need to force them. One note:
hand sanding to fit is risky, because
it is very difficult to achieve uniform
results across the part.
Assembling the frames is quite easy. I
applied a thin layer of glue to each half
lap using a small brush. Squeeze-out
in and around all those meeting edges
is a pain to clean up, so apply the glue
sparingly. Another potential problem
is that too much glue in a good snug
joint has no way to squeeze out either,
so it can hold the joints open.
Clamping can be as simple as using
spring clamps, but I prefer using
parallel wooden clamps. There are
four points of contact in each corner
(Fig. 5), and the wide wooden jaws
span them all nicely.
Milling the rabbet
Once the glue has cured, make sure the
overlapping pieces are all flush. I made
seven frames at the same time, and for
some reason one of them needed a bit
of touchup. A sharp block plane makes
short work of cleaning up the edges.
The rabbet that will accept the
artwork and glass is ¼" x ¼" (Fig. 6).
If you plan to use a double mat, you
may want to increase the depth to 15/16".
I used a rabbet bit in the router
table. To minimize chipping, you may
want to use a larger bearing first to
make a shallow cut, then re-cut with
the proper size bearing. You can also
set the bit shallow and raise it to final
Square up the corners of the rabbet
with a chisel (Fig. 7). Be sure that the
frame is solidly supported underneath;
otherwise you risk splitting the parts.
Final stepsThe simplest method of hanging these
frames is a pair of small eye hooks and
picture wire. I prefer the frame to hang
flat to the wall, so I milled in hook slots
using a keyhole bit (Fig. 8 w/inset).
With the depth set,
clamp a straight
piece of hardwood to the miter gauge as a backer and make one pass through
it. Unclamp the backer, and fit a small
block into the groove to act as an
index key. With the key in place, align
the backer so that the key is ½" to
the side of the dado stack. I used the
½" side of the stock itself to set the
spacing (Fig. 2).
Securely clamp or screw the backer
to the miter gauge. It must not move.
Two dadoes are needed on each end of
the parts. The key sets the inner cut,
but for the end cut, I added a flip stop.
It is simply a small block with a hole
drilled in one end for a pivot screwed
onto the backer so that the end
opposite the pivot is exactly aligned
with the edge of the dado stack.
Cutting the half laps
Now it’s simply a matter of cutting all
the half laps. Flip the stop down, slide
the part over until it meets the stop
||and cut (Fig. 3). Flip the stop out of
the way, slide the part over until the
open half lap you just cut is resting
over the key and cut again (Fig. 4).
This process is done to both ends of
Again, because the jig indexes the
cut from the ends, all the parts, even
from different frames, can be cut in
the same setup.
With all the half laps cut, it is time
to size the width of the parts to fit. I
used my benchtop planer, taking very
shallow cuts. Here, it is very important
to make sure that your planer is set up
properly to avoid snipping the ends of
the parts. I always test with my leftover
material at each new depth setting
before planing my good stock.
If you own a drum sander, you can
make the last few passes there, but
careful attention with a properly set
planer will give you a good fit.