How to Make Wood Frame Joints

Written by f.r.r. mallory
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Wood frames are used to make many projects, such as mirrors, picture frames, moulding for cabinet doors or as faux raised panels on walls. There are many ways to make and join frames but for someone who is new to woodworking an easier choice is using glue and plugs. A joint is where two parts of the frame connect, typically at corners.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Mitre saw
  • Sanding block
  • Find grit sandpaper
  • Carpenter's glue
  • Mitre clamp
  • Picture frame clamp (optional)
  • Rag
  • 1-inch drill bit
  • Painter's tape
  • Drill
  • 1-inch dowel rod

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  1. 1

    Determine the finished size of the frame you wish to create and cut your wood on a mitre saw with the corners at 45 degrees.

  2. 2

    Lightly sand the ends of your frames to remove any roughness or splinters.

  3. 3

    Apply carpenter's glue to the mitred cuts and place the two corners together. Be careful to align the wood exactly.

  4. 4

    Clamp the corner using a mitre corner clamp or a picture frame clamp. Wipe off any excess glue immediately with a slightly damp rag. Allow the carpenter's glue to dry for 24 hours before removing the clamps. Repeat for all four corners of the frame.

  5. 5

    Measure 1/4-inch from the teeth of a 1-inch hole saw bit. Wrap painter's tape around the circumference of the bit at the 1/4-inch mark. This will give you a depth guide when drilling your holes.

  6. 6

    Turn your frame face-side down on your work surface (your clamps have been removed). Drill a 1-inch hole, 1/4-inch deep across the centre of the mitre on each corner. Your hole should be centred on the corner and should not be deep enough to disturb the profile (face) of the frame.

  7. 7

    Cut 1/4-inch dowel slices using your mitre saw and 1-inch dowel rod stock.

  8. 8

    Apply carpenter's glue to each hole and insert the dowel plugs into the drilled holes. Wipe off any excess glue with a moist rag. Allow the frame to dry for 24 hours before sanding and finishing.

Tips and warnings

  • Plugs can be made slightly smaller if the profile of your stock is very thin.

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