Picture Frame Repair

Once family and friends discover your a woodworker, you start getting furniture repair and build type requests. And that is find with me, I like being able to help out.

A short time ago, my friend Paul asked if I could fix a small picture frame that had come apart. The picture frame consisted of one miter joint and one butt joint, with each joint brad nailed together. A photo of the picture frame is shown below. The frame is framed on three sides only, and the top is open, so you can easily change out photos. I have never seen such an animal, but then maybe I just do not get out enough.

Dimensions of the picture frame are 4-1/2″ high x 7-3/4″ wide x 11/16″ thick.

My plan of attack for this repair was:

  • Apply glue to the surfaces of the joints and clamp for 24 hours. Not going to be any strength to speak of from gluing end grain, which is the case here. But I am thinking if nothing else, it will help to hold the joints together at least somewhat.
  • Pieced the glued joints back together, and pushed the brad nails back into their existing holes. Again not any significant strength here either to speak of, but being done to hold the joints together at least somewhat.
  • Now here’s where I got my joint holding strength. I installed 1/8″ diameter wood dowels thru the joints. This is expanded on in the following photos and associated notes.

A close up of the miter joint, jointing the bottom side to the right vertical side is shown in the photo below. Notes for this photo are included below the photo.

Notes for the photo above:

  • Note 1 — Penciled line represents the edge of the frame member directly below this frame member.
  • Note 2 — This line represents the bottom of the groove for the frame member directly below this frame member.
  • Note 3 — This line is halfway between the line referenced by Note 2 and the edge of the frame member.
  • Note 4 — This short line, where it intersects the penciled line running at a right angle to it, represents the center for the width of this framing member.
  • Note 5 — This line where it intersects the penciled line running at a right angle to it, represents the halfway way point between the edge of the frame and the center for the width of this framing member. In other words, from the edge of the frame, it’s 1/4 of the framing member width to this point. This point marks the center point for drilling a 1/8″ diameter hole for a wood dowel.

In the photo below, a close up of my 4″ double square is shown. I show here how I took the width of the framing member (shown above) which is 11/16″, and divided it by two. I like working with 16th’s, so in my head, I divide 11 by 2 (11/2 = 5.5). Next I penciled in a line at halfway between 5/16 and 6/16. Realize this is not an orthodox math method. Call me crazy, but this is the way I do such things. The penciled line is referenced by Note 1 in the photo (This is the extend of Note 1, there is no additional verbiage).

For drawing the lines to locate the drilling points for the wood dowels, I used the tools shown in the photo below. The photo below shows the 0.7mm mechanical pencil, 4″ double square, 12″ steel rule, and wood clamp for holding the picture frame, that I used.

I used an awl and 1/16″ drill bit to mark the centers for drilling the dowel holes. First, I used an awl to make a small indention in the wood. Next, I enlarged the indentation left by the awl. I twisted the 1/16″ drill bit between my thumb, index, and middle finger. The results of these actions is shown in the photo below. These indentations are referenced by Note 1 in the photo below (This is the extent of Note 1, no additional verbiage).

In the photo below, the outcome of using a 1/16″ drill bit, to pre-drill the two dowel holes, is shown. These two pre-drilled holes are referenced by Note 1 (This is the extent of Note 1, no additional verbiage).

The picture frame in the photo below, is shown clamped up. This setup was used for marking and drilling the dowel holes.

The 1/8″ drilled dowel holes are shown in the photo below, along with notes providing additional information.

Notes for the photo above:

  • Note 1 — 1/8″ drill bit used to drill dowel holes for 1/8″ diameter wood dowels.
  • Note 2 — Drill bit depth stop, I set it to drill holes 1-1/8″ deep.
  • Note 3 — The 1/8″ diameter dowel holes. The hole on the right, hit a brad nail, and was shifted slightly off it’s origin center.

Length of wood dowel relative to depth of dowel hole drilled, is shown in the photo below, along with associated notes.

Notes for photo above:

  • Note 1 — This shows the wood dowel marked with a pencil, indicating the req’d length for the wood dowel. Length for wood dowels was 1-1/4″.
  • Note 2 — I Cut the wood dowels longer than the dowel hole depths, to insure the dowels stood proud above the picture frame surface. The difference between wood dowel length and dowel hole depth was 1/8″.

To cut the 1/8″ diameter dowels, I used my bench hook and Japanese backsaw. This is shown in the photo below.

The photo below shows the picture frame clamped in place, the wood dowels, and small hammer. I used the hammer to tap the dowels coated with glue, into the dowel holes.

Pictured below are the wood dowels. I let them sit for 24 hours, before sawing and sanding the dowels flush with the surface of the picture frame.

After letting the glue on the dowels sit for 24 hours, I sawed the dowels almost flush with the surface of the picture frame. I inserted a playing card between the saw and surface of the picture frame. Purpose of the playing card, was to minimize marring of the picture frame during the sawing. See photo below.

To sand the dowels flush with the surface of the picture frame, I used my 1″ belt sander. Belt sander and picture frame are shown in the photo below.

A close up of the butt joint, joining the bottom side to the left side is shown in the photo below. Notes for this photo are included below this photo.

Notes for photo above:

  • Note 1 — Penciled line represents the edge of the frame member directly below this frame member.
  • Note 2 — This line represents the bottom of the groove for the frame member directly below this frame member.
  • Note 3 — This line is halfway between the lines referenced by Notes 2 & 4.
  • Note 4 — This line is the halfway point between the line referenced by Note 2 and the edge of the frame member.
  • Note 5 — This line is the halfway point between the edge of the frame member and the line referenced by Note 4.
  • Note 6 — This line where it intersects the penciled line running at a right angle to it, represents the center line for the width of this framing member.
  • Note 7 — This line where it intersects the penciled line running at a right angle to it, represents the halfway point between the edge of the frame and the center for the width of this frame member. In other words, from the edge of the frame, it’s 1/4 of the framing member width to this point. This point marks the center point for drilling a 1/8″ diameter hole for a wood dowel.

Four dowel holes (1/8″ diameter) for the left side framing member are shown in the photo below.

The four wood dowels are shown in photo below with glue applied. Waited 24 hours for glue to dry, before sawing the dowels roughly flush with the picture frame surface.

In the photo below, the four wood dowels are shown sanded flush with the surface of the picture frame. Again, I used my 1″ belt sander to sand the dowels flush with the picture frame surface.

Pictured below is the picture frame, after being returned by the Paint Department. Cathy my wife is the Paint Department. Cathy graciously offered to paint the picture frame. Cathy sprayed it with four coats of semi-gloss black paint, from a paint spray can. You did a really nice job, thanks Cathy.

Well, picture frame has been repaired and painted. And Paul, I do not believe you will have any more problems with this picture frame coming apart again (Hopefully).

Request
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Until Next Time, Take Care
AL

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