How to build a perfect picture frame
The key to success for Michael Cullen is mastering the splined miter
When I was starting out in furniture making in the 1980s, some of my first commissions were for picture frames. I made frames mostly for artists, and they appreciated the care I took selecting choice wood, cutting spot-on miters, and reinforcing them with exposed splines. And I really appreciated the commissions—for the money, which I was in dire need of, but also for the opportunity to consolidate some of the fundamental skills I was learning. In the years since then I’ve built many more frames, tweaking my technique along the way and arriving at solid methods for building strong, understated, elegant frames.
Developing a method for cutting flawless miters without a fuss is a key milestone for a furniture maker, and a steady source of pride and pleasure once it’s mastered.
Whenever possible, I cut my miters with the tablesaw’s blade tilted and the workpiece in regular…