Mission Style Frames Minus the Miters

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My wife recently came home with an interesting mission-style picture frame she wanted me to reproduce for her. It consisted of twin rails using half lap joints in the corners rather than miters. This lent a substantial but graceful look with just a small amount of stock.

Looking it over, I saw that with a few modifications, it would make a fun and useful weekend project.

The store-bought frame uses two different sets of parts. Simple square pieces form the outer rails, and a different set milled to include the rabbet for the artwork make up the inner rails. By milling the rabbet after assembly, both sets of rails can be made exactly the same way. 

Now typically, I would form the half laps by milling a wider piece of stock, cut the dadoes, then rip the stock down to create the square pieces. For this project, I decided to build a simple jig to cut the half laps after the stock was ripped. Here’s why. First, I wanted to use offcuts and other scraps I already had. Second, I was planning on making a number of frames of different sizes. Each frame requires sides and ends, so the measuring and marking for the half laps was looking like a long haul.

The jig cuts the half laps oriented from the ends of the stock. One setup is all you need to cut all the parts, even if you are making different-sized frames at the same time.

In fact, altering the lengths of the individual parts is the only adjustment needed to make frames of varying sizes. 

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