Heart Photo “Locket” Project

This CarveWright CNC project is a unique photo frame that can be displayed on a bookshelf or credenza! The carved front heart doors, when opened, reveal the photo and form a tripod-like support so that the frame can stand upright on its own. 

It’s a great gift item for loved ones anytime, and is especially appreciated for Valentine’s Day, wedding and anniversary gifts, too!

The project uses just the 1/16” Carving Bit and the ⅛” Cutting Bit. No other bits are required.

Closed dimensions are about: 7″ wide x 6.4” tall x 1.5 ” thick

Main items you will need:

1) The Project Files (included):
• Heart_Photo_Locket.mpc

2) Board(s) with the following dimensions:
• 0.75 ” x 9 ” x 21 “

NOTE: Do not use boards that are smaller than specified above unless using an appropriate jig.

3) Two small box hinges, wooden “tie rack” pegs, printed copy of your choice of photo, clear plastic, cardboard backing.

OPTIONAL: Glazier’s points or photo-back picture frame stays, or hot glue

4) Sandpaper, drill or awl, wood glue, stain and/or paint and clear finish

5) A Dremel-type rotary tool with assorted abrasive attachments to aid the sanding process. A spindle sander and small belt sander can help speed up sanding/surface prep.

Dremel Tools

STEP 1 – Upload Project

Start Designer and open the Heart_Photo_Locket.mpc file(s). (fig. 1a)

heart frame project
fig. 1a

All you need to do at this point is upload the project files to your memory card. (File/Upload). When you upload, you may or may not get a pop-up window with an “Auto-Jig” warning message (Fig. 1b)

fig. 1b

If you do see the message, you may safely click on “Ignore” because our actual boards will be large enough that it won’t cause any problems at all. After each project is compiled, select “Normal” or “Best” for the File Quality carve setting. (I used “BEST”.)

Carve Time:

  • 35 min NORMAL
  • 49 min BEST

Click “OK” and upload the mpc project file(s) to your memory card. Insert the card into your machine and load a board that measures the appropriate dimension specified for the particular mpc (see page 1 for board dimensions). Turn on your machine and proceed with the project setup in Step 2…

STEP 2 – Run The Project

You will see “Project Menu” on your LCD display. Press “1” and scroll to Heart_Photo_Locket.mpc project, and press the green ENTER button to select it. Then follow the additional LED prompts as follows…

  • Stay Under Rollers – press 1) YES
    • DO NOT RESIZE or SCALE the projects! If prompted, always keep the original size. No scaling!
  • How To Place – press 1) Center
  • Cut Board to Size? – press 2) NO
  • Select Drill Bit: 1/8″ Cutting – Press ENTER. The machine will move the bit holder to the center.
  • Load Bit:1/8″ Cutting -Insert your 1/8” carving bit, then press the green ENTER button. (homes, etc.)
  • Select Vector Bit: 1/8″ Cutting – Just press ENTER (the bit is already installed).
  • Select Cutting Bit: 1/8″ Cutting – Just press ENTER (the bit is already installed).
  • Select Carving Bit: 1/16″ Carving – Press ENTER. The machine will move the bit holder to the center.
  • Load Bit: 1/16″ Carving – Remove the 1/8″ cutting bit, and insert your 1/16″ carving bit, then press the green ENTER button. After homing and finding surface, the carving process is performed.
heart frame project carving
  • After it is done carving, you will be prompted to load your 1/8″ cutting bit. Remove the 1/16″ carving bit and insert your 1/8″ cutting bit. Press the green ENTER button. The machine will perform the vector cuts, drills and cutouts.

Your board will look something like this…(fig. 2)

heart frame project carved
fig. 2

STEP 3 – Separate Parts

Separate all the parts from the board(s). Sand off tabs and fuzzies. I then applied one coat thinned Bulls Eye SealCoat overall and sanded again when dry. (fig. 3a, 3b, 3c)

heart frame project seperated
fig. 3aSeparate parts from board
heart frame project sanding
fig. 3bSand off tabs and fuzzies
heart frame project sealing
fig. 3cCoat with thinned Sealcoat and sand again.

STEP 4 – Install Hinges

I used painter’s tape to hold the parts together when marking pilot hole locations. I used an awl to create the pilot holes. (fig. 4a, 4b, 4c)

heart frame project hinges
fig. 4a Tape the heart sections together. Mark screw locations and make pilot holes with an awl or a small drill bit
heart frame project hinges
fig. 4b Install hinges
heart frame project hinges testing
fig. 4c – test operation

STEP 5 – Apply Finish

Remove the hinges and apply the finish of your choice. Here’s what I used on the sample Heart Photo Locket made from Select Pine: (fig. 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d, 5e, 5f)

heart frame project spraying
fig. 5aApplied several light coats Krylon Clear Gloss then Flat to seal surfaces before painting.
heart frame project knobs
fig. 5bApplied acrylic craft paints to the ball-end of the tie rack pegs and select areas of the heart design.
heart frame project painting
fig. 5cApplied several light coats Krylon Clear Gloss then Flat to seal the paint before glazing.
heart frame project clear coat
fig. 5dApplied thinned brown acrylic craft paint as a glaze to select areas (brush-on, wipe-off)
heart frame project staining
fig. 5eApplied several light coats Krylon Clear Satin as final clearcoats
heart frame project topcoat

STEP 6 – Photo-Prep and Final Assembly

Print the “Photo Pocket Pattern” (page 5) onto a sheet of card stock.

Cut out the pattern to trace onto your clear plastic and your cardboard backing material. Cut those shapes out. (fig. 6a)

NOTE: I cut the cardboard slightly oversize, so it functions as a “friction fit” to hold the clear plastic and photo in place. Otherwise, you could use Glazier’s Points or dabs of hot glue instead, to hold everything in place in the pocket, as a more permanent option.

heart frame project template cutting
fig. 6aCut out Pattern

Print a copy of your chosen photo onto some photo paper. Cut the middle of the heart pattern out to form a “window” to aid in placement over your chosen photo. Trace around the outer perimeter as before, onto the photo and cut out the shape (fig. 6b, 6c).

heart frame project template tracing
fig. 6bTrace the pattern onto clear plastic and cardboard backing. Then cut out the interior portion of the pattern as a “photo placement window” and trace around the outer perimeter on the photo for cutout.
heart frame project picture
fig. 6cHere are all three cutouts, ready to be placed into the heart frame pocket. Perform any necessary trimming for good fitment of

Glue in the trimmed knobs and reinstall the hinges to complete the project. (fig. 6d, 6e)

heart frame project knob assembly
fig. 6dGlue in the knobs
heart frame project hinge assembly
fig. 6eReinstall the hinges
heart frame project finished
heart frame project finished open

Materials Source Reference

3M Radial Bristle Discs

3M Sanding Discs
3M Sanding Discs
  • (stack 3 discs at a time on your rotary tool mandrel)
  • 80-grit (yellow) is what I use exclusively, but other grits are available NOTE: grits finer than 220 are not recommended for wood
  • Purchase from:

Items Purchased at Home Depot™ or Lowes™

  • Zinsser Bulls Eye SealCoat (same as 100% clear de-waxed shellac)
  • Denatured Alcohol
  • Krylon Crystal Clear Spray (Lowes)
Seal coat and Clear coat

Items Purchased at Hobby Lobby™ or Michael’s Arts & Crafts™

  • Small Brass Hinges (I used a Brainerd model #5075XC)
  • Tie Rack Pegs
  • Clear Plastic and Cardboard Sheets
Tie Rack Pegs
Small Brass Hinges
Grafix plastic and chipboard

I hope you enjoyed making your Heart Photo Locket!
Happy Carving!

Michael Tyler of CarveBuddy.com

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