How to Cut a Picture Frame Molding

Written by robert gray
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You can cut wood picture frame moulding any of three different ways. The first is by using a professional picture frame chopper, an expensive piece of equipment. It is less expensive to take your moulding to a frame shop and pay a fee to have them chop the moulding for you. The other two methods can easily be done at home, using a simple mitre box to cut the moulding or using an electric mitre or "chop" saw. If you are uneasy operating a power saw, then manually cutting your picture frame is the best choice.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Picture moulding
  • Mitre box and saw
  • Electric drill
  • Drill bit
  • Countersink drill bit
  • Screwdriver
  • Safety goggles
  • Electric mitre saw
  • Pencil
  • 3-foot metal ruler
  • Ear protectors

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    How To Cut Molding Using a Simple Miter Box and Saw

  1. 1

    Purchase an inexpensive mitre box and saw. The base is made of wood. Set up the mitre box by screwing it to the surface of a wood work table. Drill two holes all the way through the mitre box into the table top. Countersink the holes and screw in two wood screws.

  2. 2

    Take a strip of picture moulding and slide it onto the mitre box, past the far right 45-degree slot. Insert the mitre saw. Grip the moulding tight and hold the side of it tightly against the outer fence of the mitre box.

  3. 3

    Do not allow the moulding to tip down. It must stay up, resting only on the narrow strip of wood on the backside of the face of the moulding.

  4. 4

    Set the saw into the far right 45-degree angle slots and start sawing all the way through the moulding. Saw slowly and steadily.

  5. 5

    Determine the length of the finished cut frame strip. Slide the moulding in the mitre box to the right. Take the mitre saw and set it in the far left 45-degree angle slots. Hold the edge of the moulding tightly to the fence of the mitre box and saw all the way through. Repeat all the process for the remaining three strips of moulding required to build the picture frame.

    How To Cut Picture Molding Using an Electric Miter Saw

  1. 1

    Loosen the lock on the electric mitre saw and swivel it to the right. Set it at the 45-degree angle mark and tighten the lock.

  2. 2

    Slide the wood picture moulding onto the bed of the saw. Make sure the moulding is upright on the thin strip of wood underneath the face of the moulding.

  3. 3

    Put on your safety goggles. Push the moulding straight back until the inside edge is tight against the back fence. Hold it in place with the left hand. With the right hand, squeeze the trigger on the saw. Get it up to speed and slowly pull it down until the moulding is cut all the way through. Lift the saw up and release the trigger to stop the saw.

  4. 4

    Wait for the saw blade to stop rotating completely before unlocking the saw and swivelling it to the left. Lock it in at the 45-degree angle mark on the bed of the saw.

  5. 5

    Mark the length of your moulding. Slide it along the back fence. Line the saw blade up with the pencil mark. Hold the moulding as you did for the first cut. This time, however, with the other hand, press the trigger of the saw to start the blade rotating. When it is up to speed, slowly pull it down, cutting all the way through the moulding. Repeat all steps for the remaining three strips of moulding required to build the picture frame.

Tips and warnings

  • The two matching strips of picture frame moulding must be precisely the same length. A variation of even 1/16 inch can throw off the 45-degree mitre joints. Make absolutely accurate measurements and cuts.
  • A countersink is a type of drill bit. After drilling a hole, put the countersink into the electric drill. Put the tip in the centre of the drilled hole and start drilling. Drill down far enough with the countersink to create a shallow basin that will allow the head of a screw to be seated below the surface of the wood.
  • Keep hands well away from a moving electric mitre saw blade. Always wait for the blade to stop completely before moving moulding on or off the bed of the saw.
  • Never operate an electric mitre saw when you are tired. That is when accidents are apt to happen.

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