Woodworking and Photography

Why in the world would these two topics be put together??

Nothing makes me happier than to see some of my better shots printed. Seeing them on my monitor is nice, on Facebook and Instagram are nice, but when it hangs on a wall, I feel like I have reached a destination. The trouble is, framing prints is expensive. A nice frame with matting costs far more than printing. Several times more. If I sell my work, it is very frustrating that the frame costs exponentially more than the print itself. If I can’t afford to frame it the way I want, I wouldn’t expect people to want to buy it. And I don’t want to sell anything in a crappy frame just to save a buck. It’s why I think canvas has been so popular.

If only there were a solution..

For the last year or so I’ve been exploring getting into woodworking. Sure, I have nothing else to do right? Maybe in the winter, but definitely not in the summer, but whatever.

I have been learning a lot by watching Youtube videos plus good old high school wood shop a hundred years ago. I never made anything back then to be proud of. But I did enjoy learning, and most of it stuck. Thanks to Youtube, I’ve been patient and watched and watched, learned and learned and have found what I need to cut my own mats, cut my own glass, pick out wood and make my own frames. Not just nailing junk wood together in a square, but actually create something to be proud of. But there’s more to it than just picking out a piece of wood, cutting a bunch of 45° angles, banging it together and hanging it on the wall. There’s a real process! Who knew?!

In my first experimental frame, I picked up some pine from Home Depot. No sense paying a fortune for my first run right? Armed with my Youtube knowledge, I learned that before you build a frame, you need to build things called “jigs”. Things that help you ensure you make correct cuts. If you don’t do that, you can find yourself forced to start again, or waste a bunch of wood needlessly. I’m not the biggest treehugger in the world, but I don’t like waste.

Soooo 2 jigs - the first is one that helps you make perfect 45° cuts at the correct length. Sounds easy and basic, but without it, its very likely that one side will be longer than the other, or one or all won’t be at 45°. If that happens, the frame won’t seat properly and it won’t look professional so if that happens, whats the point. Unfortunately I still haven’t gotten around to making this first one, but it is a top priority!

The second jig is to create a cut to each finished corner to reinforce the joints. Without that reinforcement, the fame is only held together with glue and then it’s bound to fail at some point with natural expansion and contraction. This one I did build because I don’t want my finished work to fall off the wall and explode in a shower of glass.

Here you place the frame in the ‘jig’ with the corner on the table, and push it through the spinning blade to cut a slot.

I was a bit surprised how much time it takes to make a frame from start to finish. Its one of those things where the deeper you get into it, the more important it is to measure twice before cutting. Mess something up and you may have to start the whole thing again.

Besides the normal cuts, those cuts using the jig mean cutting pieces to fill those gaps, gluing, cutting off excess, then sanding and finally staining.

I’m happy to say that my first frame, while not 100% perfect is a high 90s and is one that I’m proud to have finished nicely. I’ll have to practice more with staining, but even that was fun :)

Don’t mind the fluff - apparently there’s even lint in the shop.

Once staining is done, its just a matter of getting glass, cutting, matting and putting the whole thing together!

Now I can produce work that I’m proud to hang and proud to sell. Never a bad thing to say that something is truly hand made right? :) As rewarding as photography is, to actually build the frame feels really good knowing the whole thing is my own creation that came from nothing.

For a piece of pine, I think it turned out pretty nice!

As I post this blog, I’m currently building a much larger frame out of a hunk of walnut. Please comment if you want to see that finished product!

<< Update 2019-10-06 >>

After a massive response, here is my latest one, just completed. Total size is nearly 4 feet wide by nearly 3 feet high!

Rubbed with 4 coats of Danish oil, this walnut frame was a labour of love!