Putting together custom picture frames makes for a great gift or the perfect way to add to your home décor. However, picture frames require the right size nail and nail gun. Otherwise, the wood might split or the frame might not hold together properly.
What Type of Nailer is Best for Picture Frames?
A 23G pin nailer works well for thin picture frames where you do not want any visible nailing marks. For thicker wood frames you might want to go for an 18G brad nailer that has much more holding power.
It is recommended that whichever nailer or nail gun you use that should be combined with glue or some type of adhesive for maximum effect. By using the right type of glue, you can secure the picture frame for a long time. The only downside is taking the frame apart or if you do not want any chance of the glue interacting with the object inside the frame.
Brad Nailer for Picture Frame
One of the commonly used nailers, the 18 gauge Brad nailer is well suited for putting together picture frames when using the right size nail. You’ll often find this type of nailer used for trim work, molding jobs, and the like.
The 18G nails are small and leave only a small mark, yet these nails have head that provides sufficient holding strength. It is why the Brad nailer is well-suited for putting together picture frames.
It is easy to use, but the downside is that the nail will leave behind a small indentation. This means that you will need to do a little work to cover it up, such as wood putty and paint or other covering that blends it all together. It does take a little more work to remove any indications that a nail has been put in place by this type of nailer, but it is fast, easy to use, and can be used for a wide variety of projects.
Pin Nailer for Photo Frames
This type of nailer is somewhat more difficult to work with compared to the Brad nailer, but it does offer advantages very little mark if you apply the proper techniques.
The 23 gauge nails (or pins) are headless and hence they alone won’t do the job. You must use wood glue to join the pieces together. A pin nailer is perfect for holding the wood together on a picture frame until the glue dries.
Pin nails do not have heads and leave little in the way of distinguishing marks. This means that you can easily cover the top of the nail with a little putty and no one will be the wiser. When combined with painting or staining the frame, any small indention that is made by the pin nailer can be easily covered. However, even if you leave the frame in its natural state, it still is difficult to tell where the pins are located after they have been driven into the wood.
The downside is that a pin nailer is rather limited in its use. Unless you are putting together a lot of picture frames or other small objects, you probably want to use another type of nailer that has a broader range of uses.
Apart from Brad or pin nailers, other types are generally not suited for putting together picture frames as they are too large and designed for heavier stock. Framing nail guns , finish nailers, and roof nailers should be left to their special fields and not be used for putting together picture frames.
V-Nailer Picture Frame Joiner
This is a special device designed to put together two pieces of material that have already been cut. Such a joiner uses a process called V-nailing. This type of nailing is generally superior to traditional side nailing as it is done on the backside of the frame. This means that you do not have to cover the nail since it is against the wall and not in view. Plus, it creates a more secure connection for longer-lasting results.
The v-nails are commonly used with miter joints. If you are producing a lot of picture frames, then investing in a 10-inch miter saw and a v-nailer or picture frame joiner is well worth.
You can use different sizes of V-nails, which are specialty nails designed specifically for this type of work. All you really need is a picture frame joiner which makes the process of driving V-nails simple and efficient. You will need to be careful about the length of the V-nails that are used. Otherwise, they might come through the other side of the frame.
Ideally, a picture frame joiner with a clamp so that the glue or adhesive can cure is the perfect choice. Of course, you can forego the glue if you find the V-nail to be secure enough for your picture frame.
Nail Size for Picture Frames
The size of the nail will depend on the size of the wood used to create the picture frame. However, in most cases, a good size is 23 gauge since it provides a nail large enough to hold the frame together, yet small enough to be difficult to see.
23-gauge nails can virtually disappear into hardwoods such as mahogany or oak, especially if you stain or paint them afterward. However, if you are using a wood such as maple and preserving its natural state, then you may see the nail if you look closely.
For thicker wood, you can use larger gauges which will better hold the wood together. This assumes that you are not using glue or adhesive to hold the frame together. For the most part, glue is recommended with the nails holding the frame in place long enough for the adhesion to become secure.
Picture Frame Stapler
One of the best power tools to join a picture frame is the crown stapler. A staple has two legs and a metal bridge that connects between these legs. Drive two staples such that the miter joint falls in the middle and you have the two pieces tightly held together by the metal staples.
Make sure that the length of the staple is shorter than the thickness of the picture frame. Generally, 1/2 to 3/4th thickness of the frame would work fine.
Stapler vs. Nailer
Staples make an excellent alternative for putting together picture frames compared to nails. Their small size and wider coverage help keep the frame together in a secure fashion. But more importantly, they create a strong joint without compromising the aesthetics or strength.
Unlike a nail gun you are not driving the fastner from the side or at an angle. You are driving the stapler straight from behind the picture frame. For most people, it may be easier to use a stapler compared to a nail gun when putting together small picture frames.
Advantages of Stapler
- Two Points of Contact creates stronger joint.
- Aethetically pleasing
- Easier to Control
- Can Apply Pressure More Efficiently
- Better Ergonomics for Small Picture Frames
The first advantage is important because a staple creates two points of contact, not just one. This provides for a better and stronger joint when putting together frames. Plus, the staples can be used to help hold the backing for the pictures, so they stay securely in place.
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