Making a Optical Illusion Poster Frame – Woodworking Project

This Art Deco motivated frame is made from 3 kinds of wood: walnut, maple and cherry. It took roughly two full days to construct and a lot of that was awaiting glue to dry on parts as I put them together.
The style is what I consider out of balance balance, where the top and bottom do not match each other, however are in proportion by themselves. The top has the geometrical illusion of depth, but the bottom presents a flatter view. The top is more elaborate while the bottom is easy. This works well with this specific poster and I developed the frame particularly for it.
It's a relatively big frame (around 40" x 30") and the corners on the bottom are enhanced with splines. A cleat was allowed across the angled pieces that make up the leading corners to strengthen those joints. The outer frame is a continuous band of cherry that also includes strength.
The finish is a coat of boiled linseed oil to start and then three sprayed on coats of water based polyurethane. Oil brings out the rich colour of the walnut and cherry, darkening them prior to the water based poly is sprayed on to develop a protective layer.
It is hung on the wall with a single French cleat that suits a recess routed in the back of the top of the frame using a dovetail router bit.
While this frame is abnormally fancy for a poster, it does not have any glass. The poster itself is simply taped to the back of the frame.

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Making a Optical Illusion Poster Frame – Project

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27 Comments

  1. This Art Deco inspired frame is made from three types of wood: walnut, maple and cherry. It took roughly two full days to build and a lot of that was waiting for glue to dry on parts as I put them together.
    The design is what I think of as unbalanced symmetry, where the top and bottom don’t match each other, but are symmetrical on their own. The top has the geometrical illusion of depth, but the bottom presents a flatter view. The top is more elaborate while the bottom is simple. This works well with this particular poster and I designed the frame specifically for it.
    It’s a fairly large frame (around 40″ x 30″) and the corners on the bottom are reinforced with splines. A cleat was let in across the angled pieces that make up the top corners to reinforce those joints. The outer frame is a continuous band of cherry that also adds strength.
    The finish is a coat of boiled linseed oil to start and then three sprayed on coats of water based polyurethane. Oil brings out the rich colour of the walnut and cherry, darkening them before the water based poly is sprayed on to build a protective layer.
    It is hung on the wall with a single French cleat that fits into a recess routed in the back of the top of the frame using a dovetail router bit.
    While this frame is unusually fancy for a poster, it doesn’t have any glass. The poster itself is just taped to the back of the frame.

    1. @John Heisz – I Build It john i put a ? up on ur comment so people can find this one out . is about matias and can u please encourage

  2. Great production quality on that video. I enjoyed watching the project unfold with just the woodworking sounds and movies audio clips. Well done on the project and the video.

  3. Really nice, John. I think the “unbalanced” symmetry works really well. Couldn’t figure out the strip going across the angled pieces but then in dawned on me that was the BACK of the frame to provide some support. Well done as usual!

  4. Fantastic, quality of workmanship is stunning as usual πŸ‘
    I see the 3D effect at the top of the frame but not at the bottom of the frame … am I not comprehending it correctly or is it only meant to be 3D at the top? THEN HE READS THE DESCRIPTION …. DOH!!!!

  5. Absolutely nailed it. Fantastic frame that let’s this poster stand out like it should. Top notch John on the frame and video. πŸ‘πŸ‘ŒπŸ‘

  6. Amazing work, John! And fantastic poster!!! πŸ˜ƒ
    Stay safe there with your family! πŸ––πŸ˜Š

  7. John the videography and craftsmanship are as excellent as the end result! Kudos it really draws one’s eye.

  8. Hi, Thanks for a the video.
    Since the vertical pieces are already strips, I wonder, if each successive strip was cut 1/16 th or so narrower as you went towards the inside of the frame, if it would add to the 3D effect?

  9. Beautiful piece, John, and great filming and editing. With no VO or instruction, I felt like a student sitting in your shop just watching you work. One question: At 1:47 while splitting the piece of wood you kept backing up then advancing, then backing up and advancing, etc. — can you please explain that technique? Thanks.

    1. dried wood (especially kiln dried) has a tendency to warp as it is being cut. Stoping mid cut and starting again makes sure the warping doesn’t pinch on the blade and cause an aggressive kickback.

  10. Very nice John. When I was growing up in the 1960s there were still some of the old theatres around that still had very ornate frames to display the posters for coming attractions. Your’s is very reminiscent of those; certainly captures the look.

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