Building batten photo frame, for an A3 sized print

So, Mum wanted to know whether we can get an A3 photograph of the children and their partners together with her. I said to her, that I could do one better and I’d love to build a frame from scratch for it. So, this is what happened…

Note: Most of these photos were taken using my 33 year old BlackBerry. Occasionally, I would be stupid enough to take the EOS into the garage, but all the pics that look like they were taken using a toothbrush – that would be the BlackBerry. 


Cutting the main pieces out of a single building batten

The main pieces were all made from a single piece of Wickes building batten (one of these: I love the smell of it when it is sawn, as it is basically spruce that has been roughly planed.

I used a cheap mitre box, as well as an Irwin pull saw to create the four pieces that were to be mitre joined.




Setting up my homemade router table

My router table was a very basic 3/4″ plywood board, with recess cut for an MDF insert, which in turn held my plunge router upside-down. The disadvantage of this is that the router has a dead-man’s switch system which meant that I had to clamp the switch (!!) to keep it running. My new Axminster dust extractor thingy was held in place by my homemade 100mm pipe holding jig thingy. Super simple construction meant that it wasn’t the most precise table – but the fence that I had made wasn’t too bad and I had shimmed the insert to make sure that the pieces could be fed through smoothly.




Using both the Roman Ogee bit and also the medium sized straight bit in turn, I managed to cut a dual-ogee profile onto the “fronts” of the pieces. Similar, on the back, I cut a deep enough recess using the straight bits for the perspex front, picture and backing hardboard. A block plane was set finely to clean up the recesses.



I used my freshly sharpened cheapy chisel to tidy off the flash-style lines from the edges of the Roman Ogee bit (i.e. where the bearing stops the cutting) as well as sort out any untidy bits from the planing.






Clamping and gluing

The pieces were checked for fit.



I tried  a variety of different ways to securely clamp the thing together. The glue used was ordinary PVA. Although I had a corner clamp – the fact that I had made several slight mistakes meant that I was left with at least one open mitre. Instead, I tried using sash cramps in a variety of configurations and ended up settling on using the workbench dogs to pin it as well.

East Northamptonshire-20130426-00318



In the end, this was the configuration that worked for me:-

East Northamptonshire-20130426-00312


Cutting the perspex front

Thin perspex is notoriously brittle, and instead of a straightforward coping saw attack, I decided to use my engineer’s scriber and score lines across it. I also tried using a standard craft knife. In the end, the pieces were broken off, but there were some jaggies and some cracking on the edges which I ended up cutting off. Unfortunately this left me with a slightly smaller piece than I had wanted.

East Northamptonshire-20130426-00313

East Northamptonshire-20130426-00314

East Northamptonshire-20130426-00315


Gluing in the perspex

I used two-part epoxy (one of my favourite adhesives for most repair jobs) and some spring clamps to secure the perspex onto the frame.

East Northamptonshire-20130426-00316


Finishing off

Initially, a lot of the overspilled glue and other handling marks were taken off by hand using 160 grit sandpaper. I wanted to keep the ‘lightness’ of the wood, so I decided to initially apply a layer of shellac-based sanding sealer.

The sanding sealer was then smoothed down using 600 grit wet-and-dry paper, and then a very light coloured wax finish was applied. Only a single coat was put on, to avoid creating too much of a “yellowing” effect. Along with the trimmed hardboard, it looked pretty nice.

East Northamptonshire-20130503-00325


I then decided to get the photograph printed at Max Spielmann’s in Wellingborough. Terrible service, but nice Epson 12 colour LFP there.

East Northamptonshire-20130503-00324

Skipping quite a few photographs, the end result was very pleasant indeed…

East Northamptonshire-20130503-00326














Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *