"I love my cats because I love my home, and little by little they become its visible soul." Jean Couteau

Friday, September 27, 2013

celebrating zach's birthday and 50 years of james bond

I don't think I've mentioned much about Zach's movie room before, but it's pretty intense. It starts with movie posters lining the stairwell going down to the basement and continues down to custom-built, wall-to-wall shelves to hold this thousands of DVDs and Blu-Rays along with figurines from various movies, and ends with 7.1 surround sound and a 57" rear-projection TV. 

Awhile ago, it was the 50th anniversary of James Bond. As part of that, Zach got large postcards of movie posters from all 23 James Bond films (plus a special 50th anniversary card, for a total of 24). For several months, these cards have remained in their plastic bag on a shelf in the basement, but I keep thinking how nice it would be to frame them all. With Zach's birthday coming up, I decided to finally figure it all out and make a custom frame for all those cards.

My original idea was to hang them over the window, but that was before I realized how many there were. After some quick measuring and math, I determined that only about half the cards would fit there. I had wanted the frame to be a total surprise for Zach, but I decided that I really needed his opinion on deciding where to hang them, which would determine the dimensions of the frame. After some more measuring and discussing, we decided to hang them on the closet door. Now it was time to make my plan.

Each card measures 4.125" wide by 5.875" tall. I found this Lowe's project that doesn't require any routing; instead you basically make two frames, with the back frame a little narrower to leave a lip for the glass to rest on. I did lots of math multiple times to figure out the frame dimensions. The overall idea was one big frame with a grid of 24 mini-frames attached inside.

I went to Home Depot and bought poplar hobby wood. I decided to do the front frame and horizontal parts of the grid (called rails in frame parlance) out of 1/4 x 2 (which really measures to 1/4 x 1 1/2) and the vertical parts of the grid (called stiles) out of 1/4 x 1 (really 1/4 by 11/16). For the back frame (called horizontal and vertical cleats), I used 1/2 x 1 (really 1/2 x 11/16). Home Depot didn't have any 1/4 x 1 or 1/2 x 1, so I used 2" boards and ripped them in half with a table saw. All the boards were 4' long, which worked out fine for my measurements and fit nicely in my car :-)

My friend who helped me with mitering for the cat tree I made graciously said OK when I asked if I could come use his tools again. He even helped me for several hours one Saturday to get all the wood cut and assembly started. Pardon all the dust that got on the camera lens!

The Lowe's project didn't use mitered corners for the frame, but I thought that would look better, so we started by cutting the miters for the main front frame and gluing them all together. We left them clamped and drying while we went on to cutting everything else.

Next we ripped the 1/2 x 2s in half to make 1/2 x 1s. These were for the back cleats. We cut them to the measured lengths and drilled counter-sunk holes for #8 5/8" wood screws to help hold the back onto the front along with the glue. 

Next we measured and cut 1/4 x 2s for the rails. Instead of just going with the calculated measurement for all of the inside grid parts, we actually measured the lengths inside the now-assembled outer frame. Also, if you have a little extra wood, we found it's a good idea to cut each piece a little longer than you measured to allow for error. There were a couple of pieces that I cut right on the line that were then just slightly too short. If you cut your pieces a little long, then you can slowly shave off more until it fits just right.

Then we measured for placement and glued on the top and bottom rails. While waiting for those to dry a bit, we ripped the remaining 1/4 x 2s into 1/4 x 1s for the stiles and started cutting those. After the rails were dry, we started gluing in the stiles. About halfway done, we ran out of clamps. Also, it was almost 6pm, so we decided to quit for the day. 

Sunday, I went back over to my friend's house to finish the gluing of stiles and attach the back horizontal cleats.

After letting that all dry for 30 minutes, I sanded off all the oozed-out, dried-up wood glue from the front of the frame, wiped off the dust, and primed the front of the frame. I used Kilz latex primer. I prefer latex just because the clean-up is so much easier than with oil-based primers. The next weekend, I went over to my friend's house several more times to prime the back of the frame and paint both front and back with two coats of black Gliddon sample paint from Home Depot. I like getting sample sizes when I know I won't need even a whole quart for a project. After all the priming and painting, I finished off the frame with a few thin coats of Minwax spray polyurethane. 

My friend also helped me use his table saw to cut the plexiglass for the frame. I had found some old frames from Michael's that had seen better days, but between two of them, they had enough plexiglass for this new frame. I was pretty psyched to not have to buy any plexiglass for this project. I read on the Internet that it should be OK to cut plexiglass with a table saw if you put some tape on the plexiglass to help keep it from cracking, so that's what we did, and it totally worked! The frame fits 4 cards wide and 6 cards tall, and with the size of plexiglass I had, I could have done just two pieces with each covering 4 cards wide by 3 cards tall. However, to make the pieces more manageable for assembly and to add some more structural stability to the frame, I did one piece of plexiglass for each row of 4 cards. We also cut up the cardboard backing that went with the two old frames to use as the backing for the new frame.

After all the cutting, the plexiglass was pretty dusty, so I cleaned them up with some glass cleaner. However, even after that, there appeared to be some scratches, though many of them I couldn't feel when running my finger over them. I polished them up with some Pledge, which I read online might help. I think it actually did, at least with some of the smaller scratches.

Next, I used a 3/32 bit to drill holes for the screws that would hold the plexiglass, cards, and backing in place in the frame. For each section, I put one hole on each side and two each on the top and bottom.

Finally, it was time to put the cards in the frame! I used small pieces of tape to hold each card in place on the plexiglass.

And there it is -- a totally custom frame for around $50! If you've ever had something custom framed someplace like Michael's, you know that it can cost hundreds of dollars, so I consider all the time I put in to be totally worth it.

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