Sliding Dovetail Miter Picture Frame

**Remember, use the coupon code BOOM48 to receive a 15% discount on the plans for this frame and the half lap frame!**

This frame is one of the most difficult frames that I have attempted. It is not your typical mitered frame. The reason for that, miters are one of the weakest Johnson woodworking, however, many people have gone to great links to reinforce those miters. Some have use splines and dovetail keys along with mechanical fasteners to keep the joints from pulling apart over the course of time. This particular frame utilizes a joint that I have never seen done in a picture frame. So let me show you how to make the “sliding dovetail miter picture frame”.

First, you need to start off by cutting four pieces of the frame. Each piece will need to be exactly the same as the adjacent piece. I start by cutting mine 2 1/2.


I then take it over to my mitering jig and make the initial miter on all four pieces.


Second, just overcut the opposing miter on the opposite end giving yourself room to fine-tune on the disc sander.


Before sanding you must gang the two adjacent pieces together. This will ensure the length is exactly the same and the joints are perfectly aligned.


Now using my disk sanding jig for my table saw, I fine-tune the link and the angle of the miter on both ends.
Having this 2 sided sanding jig in my table saw makes very quick work of fine-tuning my miter joints. You can find out how to make it here: (


With the router table set up with a 7° 5/8” dovetail bit, we can begin making the mortise and tenon for each miter.

With the help of a feather board to keep the stock up against the fence, begin by stand the stock on it’s mitered in and making one pass through the bit very carefully. Once the first pass is complete, flip the board 180° and make a second pass to center the mortise. Do this on both ends. Also do not forget to move the fence away from the bit and take small shallow passes to create the tenon.

You should make one pass and flip the board 180° and make the second pass. Pushing the fence closer to the bit little by little until you sneak up on the exact measurement of the dovetail mortise for a nice snug fit. Keep in mind, when assembling the frame with glue you will need a very small amount of tolerance so the joint does not bind during assembly.


Swap the dovetail bit for a rabiting bit and make the desire depth for your glass, picture and backer board. I made my rabit considerably deep which removes the gaping hole left by the dovetail mortise. You will not see the hole from the front of the frame and the picture and backer will cover it up on the backside of the frame. If you so choose, you can fill the hole with a spare spline made out of scrap by just gluing it in place.


Now using a fast setting glue I assemble one half of the frame by making an L and assemble the other half of the frame the same way. Make sure your joints are tight before it cures. The glue of choice for this project is made by DAP called “Rapid Fuse”. Beware, this glue has a very short open time. So assemble your pieces quickly.

Once those pieces are cured, slide the two L’s together for a completed frame.


Next take the frame to the table saw and cut the excess tenon out of the frame. Do not cut into the frame because you can always send the excess tenon down. Then, round over the edges at the router table within 1/8” round over bit.


Lastly, apply a finish of your choice. In this instance, I used boiled linseed oil after raising the grain and doing a light sanding. Once cured, assemble your frame with glass, picture and backer. Now enjoy your work of art!!!


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  • Pretty amazing Drew. The only thing I might add would be a backer board so there is no tearout on that dovetail bit. Other than that, I’ll bet that frame is super strong. Good stuff

    • You are quite right. That would help a great deal in the milling of the joint. Thank you!!!