Contemporary Photo Frame


No miter joints necessary!

One of the most common woodworking projects is a picture frame. And why not? Custom framing is outrageously expensive. You can make your own for a fraction of the price, often for next to nothing using scrap wood. I made this contemporary photo frame using a piece of oak that was 25″ x 3.5″ ( 60cm x 9cm).

Contemporary photo frame

I make a lot of frames, and miter joints still cause me anxiety every time! So I decided to design a frame that didn’t require miter cuts or any rabbeted insert for glass, but still look stylish. The sides of this frame are joined together with half-lap joints instead.




Half-laps aren’t particularly difficult to make, but can be a bit challenging to get them to fit perfectly. You need to make the notches exactly half the depth of the wood and exactly as wide as the joining piece. The simplest method to success is running tests. Have a few scraps on hand that you can use to zero in your setup. You could use dado blades to speed up the cutting process, but I just used a regular blade in my table saw. You can also use a straight bit on a router.

Perfect Half-Lap Joint!


Mounting the photo

I cut two pieces of acrylic (plexiglass) to identical sizes on my table saw. I glued one piece to the two thin wood strips in the middle of the frame using epoxy. I sandwiched a photo between the other piece of plastic and held it all in place with four small binder clips.




More picture frame ideas!


  1. Another good one.
    I find for setting the stop-block for half laps.
    Set the first block for the starting point. Then just use the “other piece” of the half lap as a spacer to located the other stop-block.

    That way you cut a groove exactly the width of the other board with no measuring.


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