Larry Ciesla

oval frame

This oval frame was made from maple to house a piece of stained glass art that was being donated to my granddaughter's school.  Turning straight lumber into a perfect oval is an interesting process.

Here is the beginning of the oval frame.  Two pieces of 8/4 maple about 7 inches wide and eight feet long.
The process begins by making two templates out of MDF using an oval jig that I describe how to make in this article.  One template will be used to cut the outside of the oval and a smaller template will be used to cut the inside of the oval.  These were both sized to account for a guide bushing and router bit I'd use later to actually cut the frame.

From the templates I drew an approximate outline of the frame on a piece of scrap MDF.  Using that, I was able to draw and shade an area that needed to be covered by solid wood that would be of a size necessary to cut out the oval frame.  Now it's just a matter of figuring out angles and lengths of stock to cut that when eventually joined together, would give me enough stock to make the frame.

This series of pictures shows how I used a tenoning jig with a 1/4 inch dado blade to cut a groove down the center of each edge that will be joined using 1/4 inch splines.  I needed to create a way to be able to clamp these together so I laid out areas that I'd cut away on the band saw to make room for clamps to clamp these pieces together.

Once the two end assemblies were glued, I needed to layout and cut the straight pieces that would fill in the center.  Pretty much the same procedure as before.

I screwed the glued up rough blank to a piece of scrap MDF and also screwed some blocking material in the center I could used to screw down the oval template I made earlier.  This series of pictures shows how I cut the outside of the oval.  I'd repeat the same procedure to cut the inside of the oval.

Note that in both cases I only cut about 3/8 inch into the frame material.  It's much too much stress on the router bit to attempt to cut completely through.

The top picture shows both grooves cut into the frame blank.  Next I used a jig saw to remove most of the material from the inside and outside of the frame leaving about 1/8 inch of material that I'd remove using a flush trim bit.

Using a couple of different rabbet bits I cut a stepped rabbet on the inside of the frame.  The inner rabbet will house the stained glass art and the outer rabbet will house an oval retainer I made out of 1/4 inch material using the same oval cutting jig.