Gilles' Outlet

July 10, 2007

Building Raised Panel Doors

Filed under: Woodworking — Gilles @ 5:38 am

Custom straight raised panel doors are built out of 3/4” poplar. 


Skill Level: 2~3 (Basic ~ Intermediate)

Time Taken: About 3 Hours

Kitchen cabinetry has made raised panel doors popular in North America. There are many different design for raised panel doors and many different ways to make them. This article uses a router table and an horizontal raised panel bit.  

NOTE: I routinely remove power tools guards for photographic reasons. Moreover, my hands are pictured dangerously close to cutters. I never cut while taking pictures for obvious safety reasons. When using a router or any power tools, you should always leave guards in place and maintain your hands far away from the cutting tool. Use push sticks, pieces of scrap … to push stock through the tool.

I cannot be held responsible for anything which can happen to anyone as a result of trying to duplicate what you see in my blog. Always consult a professional.

Left: The construction starts by cutting the rails (horizontal pieces of wood which make the frame) and stiles (vertical pieces of the frame) using a power miter saw. These were made out of 2-1/2 x 3×4 solid poplar.

Stiles are cut to the exact heigth of the finished door. Determining the length of rails is a little more complex. It depends on the bit you are using and the stock so check instructions coming with your set.

Right: I installed the rail bit in my router. I am using the "6 Pieces Pro CabinetMaker Set" from MCLS WOODWORKING. Their free instructions, while very sketchy, are worth reading.

Left: I made sure the bearing located at the center of the bit was flush with the fence.

The trick with this bit is to get its heigth right. It took a few tries to get it perfect. Once I found that setting, I cut a setup block I can use later to quickly duplicate the setup.


Right: I installed two featherboards to ensure stock would stay in contact with the bit and I machined rails.

Left: I installed the stile bit. Notice that the bearing is located at the top of the bit. I aligned the bearing flush with the fence.

Right: A setup block was used to set the bit’s height quickly and accurately. The block is simply put on the table and the heigth of the bit is adjusted so the block perfectly fits in the bit and is flush with the bearing.

Setup blocks  are pieces of stock cut when the bit was considered perfectly setup. Router bit manufacturers sell these for a specific bit and a given stock thickness (usually 3/4”). For me, it is faster and cheaper to take the time to set up bits perfectly and cut my own setup blocks.

Left: I machined all stiles. I gave all pieces a quick sanding to ensure mating surfaces where clean and sharp.

I gathered all pieces for one door closely to suggest how the frame would look when assembled.



Right: I am holding the bottom rail. The end of the rail shows a tenon like structure which will be received by the rail cut in the stile. The joint offers a large glueing surface.

Now that rails and stiles are ready, I turned my attention to the panel.

Left: I previously glued two pieces of wood to build a large panel (See this step).

I trimmed the panel to size using a power miter saw.


Right: I installed the panel raiser bit and I did three passes to cut the panel as shown.

Panel raised bits are large bits (mine is almost 3-1/2” in diameter). They must be used on a router table and the speed of the router needs to be dramatically reduced (about 14 000 RPM or less – check the instructions of the manufacturer).  You also need to make very shallow passed, no more than 1/8” at a time.

Left: I applied yellow wood glue on mating surfaces at the end of one rail. I used a plumber’s flux brush to spread the glue evenly.

I made sure the glue did not ooze in the groove which will receive the panel. Reasons for this will because clear at the next step. 



Right: I assembled the bottom right with the two sides and clamped them together temporarilly, just to hold them in place as I finishes assembling.

Left: I slid the panel in. Notice that it goes in dry. There is no glue to hold the panel in place. I floats in the groove. It is necessary to allow the panel to extend and contract without breaking the rails / stiles. This is why I made sure not to put glue in the groove during the previous step.

On this specific project, I will not be applying finish to the doors. However, if I was going to apply finish, I would need to do it before I slide the panel in.

Applying finish after assembly is asking for trouble: as the wood contracts, areas without finish will become visible. Believe me, this looks ugly.


Right: I installed the top rail. It fit snuggly. After this step, I checked for square, made the necessary adjustments and clamped rails and stiles in place. I let booth door dry overnight.

After the glue cured, I installed a 3/8 radius beading bit on the router table and treated the edges of both doors with it.

Experienced cabinet makers often prefer to machine the edges of rails and stiles before assembling doors. I prefer that approach for large doors. However, these doors were relatively small (about 11” x 1’1′) and I felt more secure holding the end of the door when routing edges than I would machining a short and thin piece of 3/4” stock. 

I sanded both doors with 220 grit sand paper and installed them on a custom cabinet. (See this step)

Tools Used:

  • Power Miter Saw 
  • Router (minimum 2HP) / Router Table
  • Matched Rail and Stile bits
  • 3-1/2” Panel Raiser Router bit
  • 3/8 Radius Beading Router Bit
  • Power Sander    
  • Clamps 
  • Basic Carpentry Tools

Materials Used:

  • Poplar 1-1/2” x 3/4” 
  • Poplar 3/4” (Glued Panel)
  • Sandpaper 220 Grit
  • Yellow Wood Glue


July 9, 2007

Making a cedar planter

Filed under: Woodworking — Gilles @ 4:30 am

A cedar planter is built out of cedar 1x6x6 fencing. Custom molding is cut on a router table and installed at the base of the planter. 


Skill Level: 2 (Basic)

Time Taken: About 3 Hours

There are countless design for cedar planters. This article describes how to build a long lasting square planter box for about $5. The custom molding at the bottom adds an extra touch to the project.  

The fabrication starts with the bottom of the planter. This picture shows the dry assembly of the bottom, seen from the side onto which the planter will rest when finished.

Sides and bottom are cut from 1x6x6 cedar fence board (about $2.79 at the Home Depot at the time of writting). I decided that the planter woud be a square of about 11-1/2” so a little less than one fence board will be needed to build one planter.

I cut two 11-1/2” long pieces from a fence board to form the bottom. The planter will rest on two "feet" cut out of 1×2 rough sawn cedar (a 1x2x4 sold for about 90c at a local lumberyard). I used rough saw (aka unsurfaced) wood because it will not be visible and it is much cheaper. There is also something called "S1S2E 1x2x6 Cedar" but it is much more expensive (about $5 a piece).

I laid the boards flat on a workbench, leaving a slight gap in between (about 1/16”) to ensure good drainage. I laid one "foot" on each side, making sure they were flush with the boards.

Left: I put some exterior waterproof wood glue on the bootom of one "foot".

It is critical to use an exterior waterproof glue instead of a water resistant glue. A water resistant glue will resit water but eventually fail if exposed to water for a while. Once cured, waterproof glues are, in theory, not affected by water.


Right: Using a plumber’s flux brush, I spread the glue evenly on mating surfaces. Notice how a band of about 1/4” was left without glue near all edges of the board: when clamped, the glue will ooze under pressure and fill this space instead of escaping out of the joint. This elminates wood glue cleanup almost completely.

Left: I put the glued surface of the "foot" onto the boards, made sure the drainage hole was consistent and clamped everything in place.

Right: I decided to add mecanical fasteners to further increase the sturdiness of the planter.

Planters are usually left outside, exposed to rain and sun. For this application, galvanized fasteners must be used.

Moreover, the box is made out of cedar which is extremely corrosive. In theory, only stainless steel fasteners should be used in cedar but they are expensive so I settled for much cheaper 1” galvanized narrow crown staples.

I made sure fasteners would penetrate the bottom enough to provide a good grip.

Left: I used a pneumatic narrow crown stapler to fasten the foot to the bottom. I got a little carried over and put a staple about every two inches. Yep, that’s a lot of staples and I think that 3 ~ 4 staples would have been more than enough.

Pneumatic nailers / staplers provide a level of accuracy hand nailing / stapling can rarely match. They save time too.

You do not actually need a penumatic stapler to complete this project. Hand driven 3d hot dipped galvanized finish nails would work equally well here.

Right: I flipped the assembly over so the bottom of the planter would face up. I decided that sides would rest in a 5/8 wide, 1/4 deep rabbet. I used a Japanese Pull Saw to cut along the edge of the rabbet.

Left: I removed the waste using a wood chisel. It was pretty easy when going along the wodd’s grain and a little more difficult when going cross grain. Make sure your chisel is sharp and this step will take only a few minutes.



Right: The bottom with all four rabbets cut, ready to receive sides.

Other ways to cut rabbets

Saw / Chisel is not the only way to cut rabbets, by far. Here are a few other ways:


  • Table saw with combination blade, using multiple passes
  • Table saw with daddo cutter and sacrificial fence
  • Hand held router, equipped with rabetting bit w/ bearing
  • Table mounted router with a straight bit

I am going to demonstrate how to cut those rabbets using the last technique.

When using power tools to cut rabbets, it is necessary to make the cut before assembling anything. Cutting rabbets after assembling, and specifically after stapling could expose the cutting tool to a staple. This would greatly damage the carbide tipped cutting tool.

In order to cut these rabbets on a router table, I installed 5/8” straight bit and adjusted the height (1/4”) and the fence. This took about 3 minutes.  

I then machined three sides of all bottoms. It took about 3 minutes to cut all rabbets for two planters. The quality and precision of the cut was clearly much better than the one obtained with the saw / chisel method.

Back to the construction of the planter. I turned my attention to the sides of the planter.

Left: I cut the sides of the planter out of the same 1x6x6 cedar fence board and dry fitted them in place. They fit snuggly.


Right: I applied the same waterproof exterior grade wood glue to all rabbets and assembled the first side. I maintained it in position temporarilly with a lightly tightened clamp.

Left: I assembled the full box, clamping as I progressed. I checked for square and made all the necessary adjustments. I tightened all clamps to hold the box.


Right: I drove three 1” galvanized narrow crown staples in each side of the box.

Left: I secured the sides to the bottom using 1” galvanized narrow crown staples. Notice how the stapler is held at an angle so the staple bites in the bottom of the box.

I borrowed this technique from the well known "toenailing" framing technique where nails are driven at an angle to reach the stud. I guess I "toe-stapled" the sides of the box.


Right: After stapling all sides, I removed all clamps and gave the box a quick sanding with 60 grit sand paper. Cedar fencing is rather rough and I wanted to knock the grain down more than actually making the box completely smooth and flat.

The box completed, I wanted to hide the rabbet jointery at the bottom. I decided to cut a custom molding on my router table. Alternatively, you can purchase pre-cut molding by the linear foot, install a piece of 1×2 cedar or skip the molding part alltogether.

Left: I installed a 3/8” radius beading bit in my router and used the table to bead a piece of 1×2 rough sawn cedar on both sides.


Right: The custom molding: simple but effective.

At this point, installing the custom made molding on the planter is just like installing baseboard on a wall.

Left: Using a power miter saw, I cut a 45 degres miter at one end, positionned the molding in place and transfered the end of the box on the molding. I cut another 45 degrees miter with the smallest end starting from the mark.


Right: I installed the molding on the box using 4d hot dipped finish nails. I installed the molding around the whole box.

Tools Used:

  • Pneumatic Narrow Crown Stapler
  • Power Miter Saw 
  • Router / Router Table
  • 5/8 Straight Router Bit
  • 3/8 Radius Beading Router Bit
  • Power Sander    
  • Clamps 
  • Basic Carpentry Tools

Materials Used:

  • Cedar Fence Board 1x6x6 (one board)
  • Cedar rough sawn 1x2x6 (one board)
  • 1” Galvanized Narrow Crown Staples
  • Galvanized, Hot Dipped 4d finish nails
  • Sandpaper 60 Grit
  • Exterior, Waterproof Wood Glue

May 4, 2007

Cabinetry 101: Installing Hardware on Face Frame Cabinets

Filed under: Woodworking — Gilles @ 5:51 am

Hinges and knobs are installed on raised panel doors. Doors are secured to a face frame cabinet.


Skill Level: 1 (Very Basic)

Time Taken: About 30 Minutes

This article is the las entry related to the base cabinet for BOSCH RA1181 Bench Top Router Table.

Left: raised panel doors hardware is about to be installed onto. These were designed to be 3/4” thick, full overlay doors.

Right: overlay hinges to be installed onto the doors. One door will receive two hinges. I purchased these hinges at a home center. They came complete with screws and even a little self adhesive padding.

I chose these overlay hinges because they can auto close and open up to 180 degrees.

Left: I flipped the door on its face and positioned the hinges on the door. I decided that the center of the top hinge should be aligned with the bottom or the top rail. The middle of the bottom hinges should be aligned with the top of the bottom rail.

This gives the maximum strength and in my humble opinion, the best appearance.

I used an impact driver to drive the provided screws.

Right: I installed the self adhesive padding at the top of the doors. I knew exactly where the doors would touch the frame so it was safe for me to install them before attaching the doors to the cabinet.

Usually, it is better to installed these pads after installing doors on the cabinet.

Left: I marked the center of the stile and drilled a hole. It will receive the door knob’s screw.



Right: I postionned the door knob over the hole, threaded the screw and drove it with a cordless impact driver.

I repeated the previous steps for the second door.

Left: I roughly positionned the door on the cabinet. I used a pile of scrap wood at the bottom to hold it in position as I was adjusting it.

A speed square was setup between the door and the face frame to make sure they were square. I also used a torpedo level to level the door.

I positionned to door to be exactly 1/2” between the border of the face frame and the door because that is what I designed the door for. Once I was satisfied with the position, I clamped the door onto the face frame.

Right: Using a cordless impact driver, I drove the provided screws into the face frame.

Installing the second door is a little more tricky. There needs to be a gap betweeen the edges of doors so they open / close without touching one another. In order to achieve this, I use the same technique (scrap of wood to support, level, square) but I also inserted a shim approximately 1/16” thick in between doors to ensure enough clearance. I then clamped the door in place and secured the hinges.

Tools Used:

  • Cordless Impact Driver
  • Speed Square 
  • Clamps
  • Basic Carpentry Tools

Materials Used:

  • Overlay Hinges (2 per door)
  • Door Knob (1 per door)

April 23, 2007

Building a mouting collard for BOSCH RA1181 Router Table

Filed under: Woodworking — Gilles @ 4:05 am

Half lap joints are used to build a rectangular frame.


Skill Level: 2 (Basic)

Time Taken: About One Hour

When I mounted my BOSH RA1181 Bench Top Router Table on a base cabinet, I wanted to provide about 1” of additional clearance under the table to facilitate access to the router and to provide a shelf for storing frequently used items.

I decided to build a rectangular frame out of 2x4s. The frame will be installed on top of the base cabinet and the router table will sit on the top of the frame, creating the additional clearance.

Left: I the four pieces of the frame out of a Kiln Dried C& BTR 2×4.

I measured the carcass of the cabinet and decided that the frame would be proud of the cabinet by approximately 1/2” on each side. I verified that the router table would have enough space to rest on the frame.


Right: I used a Japanese Pull Saw to cut the half lap joints. A Japanese pull saw cuts on the pull stroke.

There are many ways to cut half lap joints: using a table saw, a router, a chop saw and finished with a chisel…

Left: detail of a half lap joint. Half of the material has been removed on both end pieces so that pieces can be interlocked.


Right: the same joint being dry fitted. One end piece goes above the other and fits in the notch created on the other piece.

Half lap joints are simple to create and form a very strong bond because of the large glueing suface they offer.

However, they are not as visually attractive as finger joints or dovetails.

Left: a view of the frame with all half lap joints cuts before appliying glue and clamping. 

Right: I applied glue on all joints, assembled the frame, checked for square and clamped all pieces in place. The glue was left to dry overnight.

Tools Used:

  • Power Miter Saw  
  • Japanese Pull Saw 
  • Clamps
  • Basic Carpentry Tools

Materials Used:

  • 2×4 "STUD"
  • Yellow Wood Glue

April 16, 2007

Cabinetry 101: Face Frame

Filed under: Woodworking — Gilles @ 3:59 am

A face frame for custom cabinet is built and assembled using pocket screws. The frame is attached to the carcass.


Skill Level: 2 (Basic)

Time Taken: About One Hour

There are many ways to build face frame for cabinets. One of the most popular technique uses pocket screws jointery. This technique is described below.

Left: After carefully measuring the carcass of the cabinet, I cut all pieces to length using a power miter saw. It took only a few minutes.

I built the frame out of poplar 3/4” x 1-1/2”.


Right: I dry fitted all pieces on a flat surface and double checked all measurements one last time.

Left: I drilled these two pocket holes in a piece of scrap lumber to illustrate the concept of pocket screw jointery.

A pocket hole is essentially a hole which guides screws at a low angle.

Right: this is the side of the joint. Notice how screws appear to be straight and centered on the workpiece.

Pocket screws can very quickly create surprisingly strong joints. In fact, most pre-built face frame kitchen cabinets in North America use pocket screw jointery.

Left: I used Kreg’s Rocket Pocket Hole System. This tool is indispensable.

The workpiece is first clamped onto the workbench and the jig (blue, rightmost end of the picture) is clamped on one end. Kreg’s special drill bit is installed on a cordless drill.

Right: I inserted the bit into the first hole of the jig and drilled until the collar prevented the bit from drilling further. I then drilled the second hole.

Notice the stop collar: it needs to be adjusted properly before drilling. I set it up for 3/4” thick stock according to Kreg’s instructions a while back and I have never moved it since.

I drilled pocket holes at the end of the two horizontal elements of the frame. I did not drill all pieces.

Left: I applied yellow wood glue at the ends which were drilled for pocket holes.


Right: I assembled the first joint and clamped it on a workbench to prevent pieces to move as I drove screws. I use Kreg’s bit to drive the screws.

I removed the clamp: the piece held strongly.

I assembled the whole frame. When using pocket screws jointery, pieces are held in place so tight that the frame can be manipulated almost immediately, without having to wait for the glue to dry. I actually did wait for the glue to dry overnight but this was not required.

I applied yellow wood glue on edges of the cabinet (aka the "carcass") and positionned the frame on it. I checked for alignment and clamped the frame in place.

This for me the best way to produce and attach a face frame to a cabinet. However, There are many ways to attach face frames to cabinets:

  1. Glued to the cabinet. This is the simplest way. It produces a very joint strong – no mecanical fasterners are required. This technique is very popular, 
  2. Glued to the cabinet and face (or back) nailed with brad nails or micro pins. Brad nails or pins leave visible holes. This technique is common for mass produced, inexpensive cabinets,
  3. Using pocket screws. Pocket holes are drilled in the carcass. The frame is positioned and pocket screws are driven from the carcass into the frame. This leaves those low angle holes visible but woodworking suppliers sell plastic pieces which will fill them. It is also possible to cover the carcass with solid wood panels hidding pocket screws nicely.

Tools Used:

  • Power Miter Saw
  • Cordless Impact Driver
  • Cordless Drill
  • Kreg’s Rocket Pocket Hole
  • Clamps
  • Basic Carpentry Tools

Materials Used:

  • Poplar 3×4” x 1-1/2”
  • Yellow Wood Glue
  • Pocket Screws 1”

April 13, 2007

Cabinetry 101: Carcass

Filed under: Woodworking — Gilles @ 11:35 pm

The carcass of a cabinet is machined and assembled.


Skill Level: 2-3 (Basic – Intermediate)

Time Taken: About Two Hours

There are two main techniques to build cabinets: Face Frame and Frameless (also called "European"):

      • Face Framed: the sides, top and bottom of the cabinet are assembled together to form the "carcass". The front facing part of the carcass is covered by a strip of solid wood called the "Face Frame". The frace frame gives strength to the assembly and offers a place to attach door hinges. Face frame cabinets are considered "traditional" in North America. They are a little more labor intensive to produce that frameless cabinets.
      •  Frameless: the sides, top and bottom of the cabinet are assembled together ("carcass"). Doors are specifically designed to attach to the carcass directly and conceal the visible ends of the carcass. This style of cabinetry is  very popular in Europe. A frameless cabinet can be built with less material and less hand labor than face framed cabinets but calls for precise cuts and therefore expensive equipment.

I already did frameless cabinets when I was in Europe a long time ago so I decided to learn techniques involved in bulding face framed cabinets.

Left: I cut the parts to length out of a sheet of 1/2 birch plywood, routed two rabets (top and back) and a dado (drawer divider). I used a straight 1/2” bit.

Actually, plywood is not guaranteed to have an uniform thickness – 1/2” is an average. This means that my 1/2” wide dadoes / rabbets will most likely be slightly too large for the 1/2” plywood board they will receive. There are router bits specifically designed to rout dadoes in plywood and produce a more snug fit. I do not own such a bit so I used a 1/2” straight bit.

Right: I used a piece of scrap plywood to push the workpiece and to act as a sacrificial backer piece. A backer piece greatly reduces the splintering at the end of the work piece.

Experienced carpenters may find it a little odd to use 1/2” plywood for the sides, drawer divider and back of the carcass. Usually, sides and drawer dividers are made out of 3/4” plywood while the back is made out of 1/4 plywood.

When I designed the carcass, I knew the cabinet would be used as a base for a router table. A router table does not take as much abuse as a workbench so I decided for 1/2” plywood and made the back a structural piece of the cabinet.

Left: the left side of the carcass. The drawer divider dado is easily visible and the right of the picture. The dado for the bottom can be seen at the left of the picture.

The rabbet at the far right of the board will receive the top while the rabbet at the bottom will receive the back.

Right: the right side of the carcass. Dadoes and rabets were machined to be the mere image of the right side. 

Left: I used a cordless drill to drill a few equally spaced holes from within the dadoes. It is easier to aim the drill when the carcass is not assembled.


Right: On the other side of the board, I coutnersunk the holes.

Left: I applied yellow wood glue on all rabbets and dadoes. I sat the carcass on its back and assembled sides, drawer divider and top.


Right: I measured both diagonals to ensure the carcass was square and made the necessary adjustments.

Left: I used a pneumatic brad nailer to secure the top with 1” brad nails. I drove approximatively 4 nails on each side.


Right: Using a cordless impact driver, I drove 1” drywall screws into the previously drilled and countersunk holes. This secured the bottom and drawer dividers to the sides.

I used a wet rag to remove excess glue which oozed outside of the joints.

It was not necessary to clamp the pieces as the glue dried because fasteners maintained the pieces in tight contact.

A coutnersunk screw. The screw head is flush with the side. I used approximately 4 screws per side and per board.

It is also possible to use a table saw to cut dadoes and rabbets. In fact this is the preferred way for many cabinet makers.

Tools Used:

  • Circular Saw
  • Cordless Impact Driver
  • Cordless Drill
  • Pneumatic Brad Nailer
  • Router
  • Straight Bit 1/2”
  • Countersinking drill bit
  • Router Table (optional)
  • Basic Carpentry Tools

Materials Used:

  • Birch Plywood 1/2”
  • Wood Glue
  • Drywall Screws 1”
  • Brad Nails 1”

April 9, 2007

Gluing Panels

Filed under: Woodworking — Gilles @ 5:42 am

The edges of two 3/4” x 6 poplar boards are machined on a router table with a glue joint bit. The boards are fitted and glued together to create a 3/4” x 12 panel. After drying, the panel is sanded smooth. 


Skill Level: 2-3 (Basic – Intermediate)

Time Taken: About Two Hours

In furniture making, it is common to need solid wood panels wider than available stock. Doors, table tops or wooden cutting boards are canonical examples.

There are various techniques to construct a wider panel out of stock. One can plane boards first and then use a a jointer to ensure edges are flat, square and true. Boards can then be glued butted one to another and held with clamps as glue dries. This creates strong joints. Biscuit jointery produces even stronger joints.

Schematically, the strength of a glued joint increases with the glued surface of the joint. In this article, a glue joint router bit is used to produce a very strong glued panel.

Left: the two poplar boards which will be glued together. I selected boards with similar grain pattern and marked the best looking face "UP".

To select boards for a glued panel, I usually put them side by side on a flat surface and pair the ones which have flush (or mostly flush) edges. Selecting straight boards with square, true edges is critical to final visual aspect of the glued panel.

In this case, my boards matched almost perfectly.

Right: the glue joint router bit. It came as part of a six piece raised panel and drawer set I purchased from MLCS Woodworking.

It creates an edge which offers as much as 50% more glue surface than a simple butt joint.

MLCS Woodworking’s web site offers a free 33 pages documents which explained that:

"The height of the bit is adjusted so that the center of the joint on the cutter is centered on the thickness of the wood".

I centered what I thought was the center of the bit on the stock and cut a few joints with very little success. Once jointed, boards were off by as much as 1/8”. In addition to that, you need a flat edge for every test cut. A previously cut edge cannot be reused. 

Obviously, setup instructions were not helping me much. I guess glue joint bits are not popular because few seem to be able to set them up quickly and accurately.

Eventually, I figured out the right way to set up the bit.

This picture shows a magnified view of the the cuting edge (red outline on the left). The tooth-shaped portion of the cutting edge (marked by the green arrow) is not centered on the bit vertically.

The actual center of the bit is at the middle of the upper angled edge of that tooth-like projection (marked by the burgundy line labelled "center line").

So the center of the stock must be aligned with the center of the angled edge (aka "center line" on the diagram). In practice, this is not as easy as it sounds because this angled area is tiny. Clearly, the setup of the bit depends on the thickness of the stock

When adjusting the height, remember that if the bit is off center, by x”, the joint will not be flush on both sides by x / 2 ” so you want to lower or raise the bit by small increments. 

It takes a fair amount of time and patience to adjust this bit properly the first time. When I reached a satisfactory setup, I cut a template in 3/4” stock and saved it for future use.

I can now use the template to quickly adjust the bit’s height. I simply lay the template on the table and raise or lower the bit so the template fits exactly in the profile of the bit.

Left: a piece of scrap wood of the same thickness of the stock (3/4”) was clamped at the end of the board. This helps preventing wood chipping at the end of the board.

It also provides additional support when routing at the end of the workpiece. The glue joint bit I am using is not equipped with a bearing. Without this support, the end of the workpiece would sink in the bit, creating an uneven joint.

Right (re-enactment): boards were routed using the clamp as a push handle. The featherboard (blue piece of plastic left of my hand) should be in contact with the workpiece.

In order for the tongue on one board to fit in the groove on the other board, one of the workpiece must be flipped over. I routed one board with the "UP" sign down (on the table) and the other with the "UP" sign facing up so when assembled both faces marked "UP" would end up on the same side.

Joints were lightly sanded with 400 grit sand paper to eliminate all wood fibers which could prevent the joint from fitting perfectly.

Any wood dust was removed with compressed air.

Left: glue was applied on one side of the joint. The glue was spread evenly on the joint using a clean plumber’s flux brush. Boards were assembled and clamped in place.

A wet rag was used to remove as much excess gue as possible. Glue oozing out of a joint is a good sign: it indicates the glue filled the joint. 

Right: the clamped panel. While clamps need to maintain pieces tigthly, too much pressure is not recommended. 

I let the glue dry overnight. The next day, I removed all clamps and used a power finish sander to smooth the glued edges with 120 grit sand paper. I also sanded off all traces of dried glue on the panel. Dried glue prevents finish to stick on the wood and this creates pretty ugly stains on the wood.

In my experience, even the most perfectly adjusted joint requires some (minimal) sanding.

I then used 400 grit sand paper to give the panel a mirror like finish.

Tools Used:

  • Table Mounted Router
  • Glue Joint Bit
  • Speed Square
  • Power Sander
  • Clamps
  • Plumber’s Flux Brush 
  • Basic Carpentry Tools

Materials Used:

  • Poplar 3/4 X 6 – Two boards of 17”  long
  • Carpenter’s Yellow Glue
  • Sand Paper: 120 and 400 grit

March 25, 2007

Custom framing artwork

Filed under: Woodworking — Gilles @ 2:49 am

A piece of artwork is custom framed. Hanging hardware is added.


Skill Level: 2 (Basic)

Time Taken: A Couple Of Hours

For most, custom framing is one of the best way to compliment artwork. In my specific case, it was the only option. This piece of art has been designed to fit standard, off the shelf metric frames. None of the off the shelf frames available at my local crafts store worked so I decided to custom frame the artwork myself.

Left: the artwork to frame. It is made out of thick paper, just like most posters readily available in the USA.


Right: A piece of 3/4 wide by 1/2 thick solid hemlock I used for the frame. I purchased this 8ft piece of wood at my local lumberyard for approximately $4.

Left: I setup my router table with a 3/8 straight bit and cut a 3/8 wide rabbet, 1/4 deep.

Note the usage of the two featherboards to keep the stock tight against the fence. I fed the stock from right to left to avoid climb cutting, a potentially dangerous way of using a router.

Router bits are designed to cut when the workpiece is fed against the direction of the rotation of the bit. When the stock is fed in the same direction as the rotation of the bit, the cutting edge can grab the wood and eject it with tremendous force, leaving your hands dangerously close to a spinning bit.

Climb cutting offers some advantages (minimizes wood chipping and provides a smoother cut in certain conditions) but for me, the dangers far outweight the advantages.

You should never attempt to climb cut on a router unless you are a trained professional. 

Right: Close-up of the rabbet. The artwork will rest in the groove on the right.

I used a power miter saw to cut the four pieces of the frame to length. Cutting mitered corners can be quite a brain teaser. It helps to write a sketch on a notepad before cutting. As always, measure twice and cut once.

Also, for mitered corners, I always calculate and measure the longest dimension because it is much easier to hook up the tape measure to the longest border on a mitered corner.

Left: I assembled the frame, applied glue on mitered corners and clamped it in place.

There are special clamps, called "miter clamps" or "corner blocks" designed to maintain mitered corners in place tightly as the glue sets. I do not own such clamps so I made my own out of scrap MDF moldings.

Right: Detail of an home made clamp. It allows me to push both pieces of the frame in place and to face clamp them. It also leaves the mitered corner accessible from the side so I can drive nails in corners with a pneumatic brad nailer.

Left: I left the frame dry overnight. The next day, I removed the clamps and used a pneumatic brad nailer to drive one 18 gauge 1” long brad nails on both sides of each corner.

The brad nailer leaves tiny holes which no one usually notices. It is also possible to fill them with wood putty.


Right: I sanded the whole frame with a finish sander equipped with 400 grit sandpaper. All sides of the frame were sanded to erase all visible defects.

Four coats of clear stain urethane top coat were applied to protect the wood and give a shinner appearance.

This is a 0.093 thick acrylic sheet. I purchased it at the Home Depot for about $8.50. It is stronger and much lighter than glass. It provides a good UV protection. It is also much easier to work with than glass.

Left: I measured the sheet and laid the cut. I then  clamped the sheet and an aluminium straight edge to a table.


Right: Using an utility knife, I repeatedly scorched the acrylic along the straight edge. The idea is to cut a groove deep enough (about 1/16) so the sheet can be snapped clean along this line.


Clamps and straight edge were removed. With a firm movement of the wrist, I snapped the sheet cleanly along the line.

I cut the other side of the sheet to length using the same procedure.

Left: I checked the fit of the acrylic sheet in the frame. I removed the protecting paper, installed the acrylic sheet and the artwork on top of it, facing out.


Right: Using a pair of scissors, I cut a piece of 1/32” thick cardboard to dimension and placed it on top of the artwork. It will ensure that the artwork is maintained tight against the sheet. 

I purchased the cardboard at Aaron Brothers for $2. I like it as backing material because it is stiff yet flexible and very light compared to other candidates (masonite,  1/”4 plywood..).

Left: This is a box of "Framer’s Points" by Fletcher. The point is the small piece of steel at the bottom.

They are designed to permanently secure the backing material to the frame and therefore are very stiff. When these points are installed, it is difficult to change the artwork.

There is also a similar artwork framing fastener called "Flexipoint". It has the same shape and is flexible. It allows to change the artwork by bending the points. Most off the shelf frames use flexible points.

I ordered these points on the internet thinking they were loose (non collated) flexible points. I was surprised to receive collated stiff points. I decided to give them a shot. I paid about $16 for a box of 3000.

Right: These points are designed to be driven with a special tool which looks like a stapler. I do not own such a tool and I do not want to own one so I devised a way to drive these points using only basic shop tools.

I folded two sheets of kitchen paper towel together to build a pad. I placed a point in contact with the frame and drove it using a pair of pliers.

Left: A driven point. I installed it flat on the backing material. It took less than 5 minutes to drive about 15 points equally spread around the perimeter of the frame.

Right: This is a sawtooth hanger with its two nails. I installed it at the center, on the top piece of the frame. It allows the frame to be hung on the wall. I purchased this item at a local hardware store for about $1.50.

This is pretty much all there is to custom artwork framing. I have used many expensive tools because they offer flexibility and save me a lot of time but none of them are really needed.

Instead of routing your own profile, you can purchase pre-made moldings from most stores (home improvement and / or arts and crafts). You can cut pieces to length using a miter box. You do not need a pneumatic nailer: finish nails can be driven with a hammer and counter sunk with a nail set or the tip of a fine screw driver. Sanding can be done without a power sander by securing sandpaper on a piece of scrap wood to make a sanding block.

Tools Used:

  • Router and Router Table
  • Power Miter Saw
  • Pneumatic Brad Nailer
  • Finish Power Sander 
  • Utility Knife  
  • Tape Measure 
  • Clamps
  • Pliers

Materials Used:

  • Solid Hemlock 3/4 x 1/2 (8ft)
  • Premium wood glue 
  • Brad nails (1in, 18 gauge)
  • Acryclic sheet 0.093 thick (20” x 32”)
  • 1/32” thick cardboard (bcking material)
  • 400 grit sand paper
  • Framer’s point
  • Sawtooth hanger
  • Clear urethane top coat

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