Self-Squaring Picture Frame Jig

If you’ve ever built a picture frame you’ve experienced the frustration of trying to get all of the parts to fit perfectly. While trying to “dry-fit” and clamp the frame’s pieces together the parts often fit perfectly. But add glue, and a little clamp pressure, and the parts begin to slide apart. It can be a frustrating race against the clock to even things out before the glue begins to set.

The good news is that there’s a solution that’s both simple and inexpensive. The jig pictured to the right was built in about an hour from scrap 3/4" plywood.

This simple jig is self-squaring and requires only one clamp to firmly secure the frame. When pressure is applied, the jig evenly distributes the pressure to the four corners. The “L-shaped” cleats prevent the frame pieces from sliding out of alignment. The jig pictured here will work for frames twice as large. 2-1/2" carriage bolts are used to hold all of the parts together. Larger or smaller frames can be used by drilling additional holes and moving the cleats.

Tip: Coat the surfaces of the jig that will be exposed to glue with paraffin wax to prevent the jig from sticking to your frame.