Back in the day, yeah, back when the internet was steam powered. Here. Aaron Johnson is quite good, funny, too.


Not "The Mallet of Loving Correction" Just mallets.

Thank you, John Scalzi at Whatever.

Two mallets. The one on the right, with the brass head, is the one I use the most. The small size is very nice, though it does have some weight.

I usually hold it high, and rapidly tap the chisel. Sounds like a woodpecker. Held lower on the handle, great force can be applied, though I prefer to make light, controlled cuts. If I need to waste a lot of material, I have my electric and air powered "Beavers", here, and here. I have even used a small chain saw to waste a lot of material, as well as a circular chain saw for mounting on a grinder.

Electric Beaver

Occasionally, an existing frame needs the rabbet enlarged, for a painting other than the one the frame was built for. This frame has an inner blind frame building up the area at the rabbet, so I decided to use a router to remove the bulk of the wood. The base plate has a bushing, which will ride against a plywood "template", nailed in position as below. This one is butt and biscuit joined (see previous post) into an L shape to provide an end stop.

Due to the depth of wood to be removed, I did about six passes, then using mallet and chisel cleaned the corners. Alternatively, this can be done all by chisel and mallet, using a knife to "score" the line, then removing the waste, cleaning up with a bull nose plane.


Frame Joinery

In the previous post, I discuss a mitred frame. This frame is an example of a "butt-joined" frame, using a mortise and tenon type joint, with out nails.
For the tenons, I use a double biscuit. Biscuit joinery is a fairly new addition to joinery, requiring a machine to mill the mortises, then using a compressed wooden "biscuit" as a tenon. The biscuits swell from the moisture in the glue, making for a solid and durable joint. Very quick to do; faster than dowells, and I think stronger.

Joining frames this way allows me great freedom in the design and execution; the above frame was roughed out with a bandsaw as I did not need to worry about nails.

My initial design work is done on paper; once I have the joined frame, I draw directly on the frame with charcoal, rough cut the outer shape, and begin carving.

Oil Daily

Most of my carving is just that, carving with carving tools, as in the photo at the top of the page. Sometimes, though, I use some other tools, such as the air powered die grinder in the picture above. Fitted with a carbide cutter, its main use is to carve where there are nails, as in the corner mitres. The "Anti-Art Deco" has mitred corners, with glue and nails holding it together. Trying to carve through nails is deleterious to carving tool edges, whereas the carbide cutter grinds right through them.

When oiling a die grinder, or other air tool, it should be run away from the work initially, to exhaust excess oil.


There, again. The Anti Art Deco.

Once again, unto the fray. I've redone this frame, see here, and here. I've been brooding about this frame, and I'm closer now than in any of the previous iterations, though this may not be the last version. I even dug out my studio lights, polarizing screens, and polarizer to try and eliminate the glare in the photo; only about 90% success.



George Ames Aldrich 1872-1941
"Normandy Mill"

The frame and painting, together, see below.


The Finished Frame

The frame, finished, in 23K gold, mat and burnish.
See Process, and here, here, and here.

More Process, Splines

Inner frame, see below, from the back showing the inlet splines. This was almost a signature of Newcomb-Macklin frames. I run the mitred sections over a 1/2 inch groover on the tablesaw, before joining them. A stop is clamped to the saw, at half the size of the spline, all of one side being milled at once. I use both 1/8 inch and 1/4 inch plywood for the splines, slightly oversize so I can plane them to fit. Glued with hide glue and nailed.



I've redone this frame, see here, making it more balanced. It retains some of the previous iteration, whlie being less overt. It is a more subtle presentation. Hah! The overall tone of the frame might be a little darker, as well, though this is a more accurate photo than the previous.

The inspiration for this redo was another frame, posted about under Process, that I was starting to over think. Somewhat stymied, I decided to hack away some of this frame; a jolt to get me moving. I'm now happier with both frames, as I stopped fretting and actually moved forward, though fretting seems an essential part of the process sometimes.


More process

Above, shows the inner frame, for the frame below, with the red and yellow bole application. The inlet splines I install on certain frames, is visible at the lower right. The frame below has a blind frame installed. The spline still needs to be planed flush with the edge of the frame. That will be done after the final toning of the frame, just before the two frames are assembled.



Gessoed frame, lacunae filled, ready to be refined and sanded. Refining involves cleaning up edges; making rounds round, and making sure the sweep and flow are there. I use small carving tools, scrapers and rifflers at this point, as seen above. Then sanding with various grits, 80-100-150 and finishing with 220. Mostly 100 and 220, and 100 needs to used carefully. In the winter time, I have another use for cyanacrylate glue; gluing the splits in my fingers together, aggravated by sanding.

This is the frame as the first coat of bole is being applied; a pale yellow. Bole is a very refined clay, mixed with hide glue just before applying, as a base for water gilt gold leaf. Where it is shiny in the picture, the bole is still wet. Before gilding, the bole will be polished, but it is matte until then. In this case, a base of yellow, followed with a red top coat. The yellow obscures "holidays" in the gilding. The red will be just on the "highlights".


More uses for "CPR".

This is a very unusual frame, done from a photo of a frame from 1920s-30s. Gilt with metal leaf and polychrome panels. The ornamentation is poured Bondo, oops, CPR. See the previous post. Regular Bondo with the addition of liquid fiberglass resin, is "pourable" but mostly non-flowing. It will gel, and stay in position. I've used this kind of poured ornament on several frames as an alternative to conventional ornaments.

This is the image I was e-mailed, to work from. I'm not sure what the material used for the poured ornament is on the original, probably a gesso with oil added.