Walnut Picture Frame

I wanted to create a unique gift for my father-in-law for his 70th birthday. Not long ago he gave me a number of pieces of walnut, most of it at least 90 years old. He also gave me an old frame that I cut up to frame my DiResta print. So I decided I should give him a frame to replace the one he gave me, but make it something special.

Instead of trying to find the glass and hardware to make a frame that stands on its own, I started with a cheap frame, kept the glass and back piece and chucked the frame itself. The outside dimensions of the frame were arbitrary, only the inside needed to be able to fit the glass. The old frame would serve as a good guide for setting up the table saw, so I pulled it back out of the garbage…

I cut the frame from a piece of 8/4 walnut, approximately 4 inches wide. I cut a strip from the walnut at 5/8 of an inch thick. This made my frame pieces 2 inches wide. I was sure to include the knot and burl present on the piece in the final frame to give it some added character. I set up my chop saw at 45 degrees and went to work. Once I got close in length on the side pieces, I would cut matching sides at the same time so I wouldn’t have to measure to get perfect length.

Glue up was a little difficult without a frame clamp. I didn’t have the time to print out the corner pieces I needed to make my own, so I took some scrap wood larger than the frame and screwed four small pieces of wood to it that would allow me to slip in wedges to make my clamps. Izzy Swan and Jimmy DiResta have multiple videos showing this technique for clamping.

To strengthen the corners, I cut slots for splines in each corner. A quick spline jig for the table saw made quick work of this job. To give the piece contrast, I used some reclaimed poplar from pallets to make my splines. I measured the width of the kerf and cut a piece of wood the same thickness on the table saw. A little glue and hammering later and I have some nice looking splines strengthening each corner of the frame.

A little wood glue and sawdust helped fill in small gaps. I sanded everything down to 320 grit, then added a coat of tung oil. I let this tung oil dry for 18 hours before finishing with a coat of paste was to bring a little bit of shine and protection. I hope he likes it!

Walnut picture frame with poplar splines handmade woodworking walnut burl picture frame with reclaimed pallet wood splines