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Cutting Down a Large Art Frame

February 14, 2011

I have this painting to deliver to a show this weekend. Instead of building a new frame from scratch, I decided to just take a larger frame I had on hand and cut it down to a smaller size to save time.

Artwork face-down in large frame


Two L-Shaped pieces


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This required cutting the frame into two “L” shapes and cutting the sides to fit the artwork. The concern here is that this was a finished frame, so the angled cuts had to be as smooth as possible; otherwise, I’d have to sand it down and refinish it, which would waste time. I used a table-saw to cut the angles. The art is 16×17”, and this original frame opening is 20×24.”

Smaller assembled frame

Chip-out: this is what happens when a saw blade leaves the wood and causes small pieces of wood to break off. The problem can be reduced by placing a piece of scrap wood against the opposite side of the wood as it’s being cut. In this case, however, the wood is irregularly shaped and beveled, so the best thing to do is cut the angles face-up so that the blade exits the back of the frame piece. Also, when using a table-saw, slow down as the blade exits and push the wood as straight as possible. Mitre-saws tend to cut smoother angles, but still have chip-out problems, and are a pain to use on hard woods like this.

To be sure the frame you’re cutting down is large enough, the outer edges of the smaller size should fit inside the opening of the large frame. In other words, the final frame size here is 19×19.5″ which is smaller than the original 20×24″ opening.

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