Picture frames make fantastic skill building projects. You can practice joinery and create precision jigs. Frames reward practice and good finishes. They can be made from cheap materials and scraps – meaning they are easy on the pocketbook. All in all, the perfect project to start with.
With one exception. Miter joints – that is, two 45° angles meeting and forming an exact 90° corner….umm, that’s hard. Very hard. So how can you make a simple picture frame with simple joinery that looks great? Over the years, I’ve developed three semi-surefire picture frame designs that are simple to make and look great. Next time you want to frame that special moment, try the next three picture frames: The Salvaged Shutter, The Dead Simple Frame and the Schoolhouse Frame.
In the late 1800’s and into the early 1900’s, a number of furniture makers, craftsman and artisans reacted against the massive mechanization and industrialization of (their) modern world to create a type of furniture called Arts & Crafts, Craftsman or Mission style furniture. Gustav Stickley in New York, the Roycroft community and others created furniture, which to my eyes, can’t be beat by anything that’s ready-to-assemble.
While I find my heart and soul called by Mr. Morris’s chair, other artisans were getting in on the action. With so much intellectual rebellion running about, some energy had to flow into pottery, right? I’m not a big pot fan (yep, that reads differently than it did in my head) but I do appreciate the art tiles. I just had to find a way to make one without using actual clay. I don’t have the sculpting skills, tools, a kiln or materials for such work.
So how did I do it? I used some of the latest and most innovative prototyping methods known to man.
In my Applied Mathematics class, woodshop has put the shop in applied. During a unit on fractions, I asked students to build a number of these try squares, all different shapes and sizes. In order to assess my students ability to read a ruler and calculate fractions, I made all the dimensions wonky. No 8″ cuts for my students! Dimensions looked like 8 3/4″, 4 3/8″, 5 “1/16 and all sorts of foolishness. Once I felt my students had mastered the build process, we took our show to Houston’s Mini-Maker Faire! The construction process for a tool like this can … Continue reading Classroom Project: Try Squares
I swear the conversation went like this: Wife: “What dress should I wear?” Me: “I don’t know, you look great in anything.” Wife: “This dress? What about this one?” Me: “I don’t know if you’ve been watching me, but I haven’t taken my eyes off you in forty minutes.” Wife: “I need a full length mirror, I can’t see anything here.” Me: “I can handle that.” Exit stage right. I know a good exit line when I’m handed one. Mirror from Lowe’s, sans frame. A saw kerf down the middle makes a perfectly sized dado. Pocket hole construction. The … Continue reading This Week in the Shop: Mirror, Mirror
My new “little” project obsession: try squares. These guys mark boards square. That’s it. All they do. The try, not tri, comes from the act of “trying” an angle to see if it’s square, not three, or tri. This slideshow punctuated by a few of my favorite song titles, puns and lyrics in no particular order. These tools come together quite easily. First, I rip a 2×4 into 1/4″ or 3/8″ inch thick strips. Then I flatten one side of the strip using a hand plane. After checking each strip for flatness, I rip the piece again on my … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: Try Squares
I’ve heard before from others in the “making” or woodworking communities I’m a little behind the times. I make cigar box guitars when they were totally two years ago. Or I teach developmental woodworking in manner more suited to a different century. So of course, I discover a sweet little hand tool project about a year too late. Good thing great projects don’t age. The Gottshall Block is a small project – just a few cuts and nicks with a chisel. It takes about three to five forty-five minute sessions to complete for a student at about the third grade … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: Gottshall Block Project
Last year, I posted a quick project: The Bed Frame. It has since become the most searched for post on this website, garnering a little over a thousand views with no publicity. People like to build beds. It’s taken a while, but I’ve put together a small PDF which outlines how I make my simple bed frames. You can catch the goodness here: The Kid’s Bed Frame Plan If you build it…send me pictures at woodshopcowboy @ gmail.com! If you have critiques, send them to a different address…I mean, send them over too. Remember to like WoodshopCowboy on Facebook and … Continue reading Woodworking Plans: The Kid’s Bed Frame