I never knew how important picture frame anatomy was.
Over the years I've taught several basic picture frame making classes at Rockler's and for local woodworking clubs.
One of the most interesting things I learned was that the average person is unaware of how picture frames are measured and what you would need to know before trying to make one yourself.
I quickly added picture frame anatomy to the classes.
Of course, I was unaware of these things when I started, too.
Needless to say, the class on picture frame anatomy would've been helpful to me, before I started!
Knowing how a frame is measured and what to consider before you begin to actually make one, makes it much easier when you're in the shop staring at a piece of wood!
So, before you begin to make your own frame, spend a few minutes getting familiar with this info.
Now, down to business!
A basic picture frame consists of four individual parts:
The glass, mat board, and backboard are all the same size. Their size is determined by the size of the frame. The confusing part for most people who don't make frames is - what measurement to use??
A frame can be measured three different ways. Each measurement serves its own purpose but the one that everyone generally refers to when talking about frame sizes is the inside edge to inside edge on the back of the frame.
This is good to know if you have limited space to work with where you're hanging the frame.
When people refer to a frame as 12" x 14" that's what they are actually talking about.
That's the most important measurement for you to know before you begin making your frame.
The 3rd way to measure a frame, which is not really too important is:
We'll talk more about the inside edge on the back of the frame (also called a rabbet) a little bit later on the Cutting Rabbets page, and how to create one, but basically it's the "shelf" in the back of the frame that holds the glass, mat, document and backboard in place. Sort of like a frame sandwich.
That's the basic anatomy of a frame.
Thinking about all these pieces; how they relate to each other, before you make your frame, will pay off in the end.
You've just graduated from Anatomy 101.
Leave any questions, thoughts, tips or suggestions below!
© Copyright 2012 -2022 by Al Pilato, picture-frame-it-yourself.com
Updated November 18, 2022
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