Picture Frame

We just got this year’s school pictures so I needed some picture frames. I could have spent twenty bucks to buy a couple, but, as @Dan says, “I have a laser”.

I’ve had my Glowforge for a couple of weeks now but this was the first “nice” thing I tried to make. Before this, I burned a lot of cardboard making “prototypes” for future projects, made some paper bats for halloween decorations, some pencil and tool holders, and generally played around a lot. So much to learn, so many experiments to try. What an awesome thing this is!!

I think the picture frame came out pretty nice, but it’s certainly not “laser perfect” and my design turned out not to be very good (more on that later). I learned a few things in the process and hope someone else might get something from this.

I had two ideas that I wanted to test in this project. The first was a way to make cutout letters that were all attached to the matte. I’ve seen this done a number of ways; sometimes it looks great, but others not so much. My idea (well, the idea I had that I’m sure a billion other people had, but I haven’t seen yet) was to cut enlarged versions of the letters as part of the matte and then engrave the “real” letters inside that cutout. I think this worked pretty well.


The other idea was to complicate the miters in such a way that they were somewhat hidden and fit together like puzzle pieces. I was after an esthetic effect as well as something to help align the pieces of the frame. I like how this came out, but it could use some more work. I didn’t compensate for the kerf so the fit was a bit loose. Of course some of the detail in the leaves is so small, that if I had made this a tighter fit, they might have broken off… Overall, I think this was a nice effect.


The rest of the frame is purely functional, rather uninspired, and the reason I say the overall design is not very good. I used CA glue to bind everything together and the lack of skill or any sort of jig caused a number of alignment issues. Next time I’ll add some notches or something to help with the alignment.

The matte and picture are held in the frame by the four corner triangles and the cross piece which supports the foot. It turned out that the thickness of the glass, matte, and photo added up to almost exactly the thickness of the maple ply. It’s a little tight, but it is possible to add and remove the matted photo from the frame, but the glass is “built-in”.

The materials I used include:

The frame is Proofgrade Medium Maple Plywood.
The “matte” is 110 pound card stock from Michael’s
The “glass” is .093” thick “Optix” acrylic from Home Depot

Here’s the SVG in case anyone wants a starting point…


I’ve been a lurker on the forum for quite some time and am glad to finally have something to post. Thanks to everyone out there for posting your ideas, questions, and answers. It’s been very helpful and inspirational and I look forward to more in the future!


LOVE the miters, what a great idea and build; the write up gave me a nice ‘ah-haaa’ moment, cheers!


@bdm beat me to it but yes, love the miters. I usually cut the whole thing in one piece and then use the inner scrap elsewhere. A few times I’ve used puzzle miters but I would have never thought to hide them within an engrave. A concept I will most definitely borrow at some point.


I saw thepuzzle miter technique in Japan quite often (usually on frame and cladding miters for the old no-nail temples) but completely forgot about the technique until @bradxn posted these excellent builds.

Like you i was thinking more along the engrave lines


That job on the corners was just inspired! Excellent work!!! :grinning:


What a beautiful addition to the frame! Just WOW! Thank you for sharing your file.


Wow! It looks fantastic–such a cool idea to do those decorative miters! I love your lettering idea for the mat as well. Really some super cool ideas, and thanks for sharing your patterns!


Oh my! This is lovely. I really like how you incorporated the engraving to disguise the mitered seams. And, thank you so much for sharing the file.


Thanks for the kind words everyone! I realized I missed a couple of details. A layer of separators was missing from the original SVG file. I’ve updated the file above. The new parts are the four trapezoids which are glued to the back of the main frame before attaching the triangular corners and the stand.


Great frame design! So you remove the picture by bowing it in the center?
Nice guy sharing the file :sunglasses:! Glad you joined in, Thanks!


Basically… The picture is just taped to the card stock matte. It’s pretty easy to pull the matte/photo out of two of the corners and then slide it out of the rest of the frame.

I need to make another frame soon and have some ideas for how to make it a bit easier to get everything aligned during assembly. If that works, I’ll post it too.

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love the joints, very nicely done :slight_smile:

Incorporating art into the miter/joints is something I have been thinking about for a while but hadn’t gotten around to playing with… it looks great!

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Cool! And another vote for interesting miters.

Miters for the win, but I tell you, I would have made these letter standouts on the matte for years and never would have thought to engrave anything in them. I’m am such a vector and line guy, I just don’t think of decorative elements. Even so, your added elements are great. Thanks for sharing the details!


I really like the back of the frame. It’s minimal, sure, but it’s functional and it’s not like people are gonna see it.

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The miter details are brilliant!

Besides the nice mitres, it appears like your visible edges of the front frame are not darkened. Do you just assemble and then sand? If so, how much wood do you find you have to remove to get down to clean-looking wood?

Assuming your settings aren’t leaving the entire edge like charcoal, I don’t think I’ve ever removed more than a few thousandths. I found 120 grit removes it right quick and 220 takes just a little effort. Ultimately it depends on your settings, and probably the wood, for how deep the crispiness is.


I didn’t actually sand this frame, but did wipe off a little soot with a paper towel and I think I blasted the etched parts with some air. But this was Proofgrade…

I usually do some sanding when I use baltic birch ply that isn’t protected with contact paper. Like @caribis2 mentioned, just a little does the trick for me.

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