Molding 1 - Introduction

Whether you are finishing a room, putting up chair rail moldings, or want to accentuate a new picture frame, creating molding and building picture frames can be a practical way to use your woodworking talents and add a new look to your home. Customized molding is easy to create and projects a cut-from-solid look, as well as softens corners like the junctions of floor and walls, ceiling and walls, partial wallpaper coverage, etc. With the prices of quality molding and picture frames increasing, many do it yourselfers are making their own custom pieces.

n these pages, we are going to show you the correct way to create different types of molding, and use that molding to make a simple end compound miter picture frame. We will take you through step by step, from initial planning to the finished product. As you build these projects, remember, every new skill and technique you learn building these moldings can be carried over into other woodworking projects.


Review the pages thoroughly before proceeding with these projects. Go through the tools and materials check-list and study your plans carefully. Know the safety standards for the project. Before you begin, gather the items that you will be using, and place them where you will make the molding and build the picture frames.

Basic Components

In addition to your regular tools, the wood working tools necessary for this project are:

  1. Table Saw with molding cutters
  2. Clamps (framing Clamps)
  3. Dado Set
  4. Router or shaper


Before you begin your project, you will want to become familiar with the wood working terms shown below.

  • Miter Cut - Angle cut across the width or thickness of the board
  • Rabbet - L-shaped cut
  • Dado - Channel cut across the grain of a board, into which a second piece of wood is fitted
  • Spline - A piece of wood (usually a contrasting color) set in a joint. Used for decoration and to strengthen the joint.
  • Chamfer - Corner of a board beveled at a 45 degree angle
  • Bow - A curve along the length of the board

Wood Selection

All framing and molding projects follow the same basic principles. After deciding the type of framing and molding you want to build, you must select an appropriate wood. The two basic categories of wood used most often in wood working projects are hardwood and softwood. Hardwood is more durable and less prone to dents and scratches. It is also more expensive but will finish to a better advantage.

Soft woods, like pine, are more prone to dents and scratches and do not have the durability of hardwood. Softwoods are much less expensive and easier to find. Ask your lumber supplier to show you "Class 1" or "Select Grade" lumber. Make sure it is properly dried, straight, and free of knots and defects. (It may be impossible to be completely free of defects but be sure you understand how to cut around these.)