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I see picture frames held together with glue, but I'm wondering if equally robust and aesthetic results could be obtained using flat L-shape angle brackets? What problems am I going to run into using this method?

flat L-shape angle brackets frame

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  • Gaps in the miter joints. – keshlam Oct 10 '16 at 19:02
  • Is there no way to avoid that using brackets? – Kensing Oct 10 '16 at 21:03
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    Glue binds the ends in position. Brackets anchor to the wood farther away, and have some slip to them. If you really hate glue, I suggest avoiding mitered joints; go with lap if something similar which doesn't make minor shifts so obvious and distracting, and which also wouldn't need the brackets. But I don't know why you think avoiding glue is desirable... – keshlam Oct 10 '16 at 21:32
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    If you're trying to avoid clamping, for something as small as a picture frame, you can put painter's tape around the outside corners. Similar to what is happening here: makesomething.tv/sites/default/files/addimage/05.jpg – Katie Kilian Oct 11 '16 at 2:53
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  1. A little glue is less expensive than the brackets and screws.
  2. Metal has a greater coefficient of linear expansion than wood, by something like a factor of two, so you may run the risk of gaps appearing if assembly temperature is significantly lower than temperature where displayed.
  3. Not only do the frame pieces need to be held tightly together when applying the brackets, but you will also need to drill precisely centered and sized pilot holes so that splitting, stress AND looseness are avoided.
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  • Point no. 2 is true, but hardly relevant here :-) The total expansion of the plates would be too tiny to be a factor even between -10 to 30+ C, which of course would never be seen in a domestic setting. Plus, the screws would allow fractional movement anyway, negating the effect even if it amounted to a fraction of a mm/hundredths of an inch. – Graphus Oct 14 '16 at 6:15
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You can certainly do this if you wanted, and actually it wouldn't be a bad way of reinforcing some large or heavyweight frames — Strong joints to use when making custom frames :-)

But you wouldn't want to do it on every frame, as I mention in the same sentence in the previous Answer you can do the same using just a triangle or chevron of plywood (or hardboard) that is tacked or screwed to the back of the frame corners in just the same way. These would be cheaper of course (potentially free if using up scraps), and perhaps more importantly would have less play in them (or none at all) so your joints would be made more secure.

This is assuming the mitres are already glued of course, I can't think of a good reason not to glue the joints.

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It's more work and may not be the solution you are looking for, but you can achieve a much stronger corner with equally appealing aesthetics by using a mitred half lap, such as:mitred half lap corner joint

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