In A Pinch
A while back, I finished designing several picture frames. As I was putting together the frames, I realized that I did not have any turn buttons. (Turn buttons are the little tabs that screw into the back of a frame to and pivot to hold the picture and back board into place). I went to a couple of different hardware stores in the area and I was unable to find any. I live in a small town and have limited resources, but there is a much larger town nearby and I thought I would try my luck there. I went to the larger town a couple of days later and I still was unable to locate anything that would suit my purpose.
I knew that I would be able to obtain them mail order, but not only would I have to wait for them to be delivered, but I would be paying a high base cost of postage on a relatively inexpensive item (they usually run about 20 cents each). I finally decided to try my hand at making up my own and see how they looked. I think they turned out quite well and took little time and cost practically nothing, as I used scraps of 1/8” plywood that would have been discarded anyway. Being able to make these for yourself will not only will you save a little money, but also you will save time chasing around and looking for them, which means you can have more time at your scroll saw.
Print out the pattern on your printer (right-click the pattern picture and choose “save as” to save it to your computer). I cut four pieces of scrap 1/8” plywood so that they are approximately the same size.
Stack cutting multiple layers is a good way to make a bunch of turn buttons in short order. Apply your pattern to the top layer, using the usual method and temporary spray adhesive. Apply double-sided to the top of your other layers if you want to stack cut.
Peel the backing off of the tape and press the four layers together, forming an even stack.
Measure to see what size drill bit you will want to use (I used a 11/32” bit). Drill a test hole and make sure that your screw will fit into the hole without the head coming through. A flat head screw would be the best choice to use for these. I also like using a brad-point bit for this project because it is more precise.
Once you have decided on a bit, drill the holes through all layers. Be sure to have a layer of scrap wood underneath so that the bottom layer doesn’t tear out.
Use a #2 reverse-tooth scroll saw blade and cut around the turn buttons. I cut the two end pieces first because I didn’t place the tape all the way from one edge to the other. This saved me time separating the pieces later on.
Place a countersink bit into your drill press and press a depression into each turn button. Lightly hand sand each piece, gently rounding the edges. I you don’t stack cut your turn buttons, you could countersink the holes before the cutting step which would be easier.
Screw into place but don’t tighten the screws all the way yet. Place the picture, as well as the backing piece(s) so that they are flush to the back of the frame. Position the buttons to hold in the layers and gently tighten the screws to hold everything in place.
(If, for some reason, your backer isn’t flush with the frame, you could use a washer or even a thin layer of wood as a spacer under your turn buttons when you screw them to the frame.)
A Simple Solution
Something as simple as turn buttons are a great thing to have on hand. You can save a lot of time and a little money by making several of these at a time out of scraps of wood you have on hand and allow yourself more time to do what you love to do – scroll sawing!