View Full Version : Framing

09-16-2004, 10:08 AM
I am going to frame school. Its a 4 day course and I am excited beyond belief...one reason is- its 4 hours from home and I am leaving the husband and kids behind. LOL, I am sad to leave my children for 4 nights but come on, its never happened before and it will probably not happen again for a really long time.

I am excited about learning all the proper techniques of framing and hopefully saving some $$$ in the long run....not only that our local framer has retired and I am thinking of framing for others as well. A little busness would be very nice indeed.

Do yall frame your own stuff or get it framed by others?

09-16-2004, 10:21 AM
Good for you ......... this is a great chance for you to learn all about it. I would love to be able to do it myself but I haven't got a clue about it! :crying:
Good Luck!


09-16-2004, 10:22 AM
Thatīs one of many things on my to-do list, to learn how to frame myself, as it is usually too expancive to buy it from others...enjoy it :wave:

09-16-2004, 10:27 AM
I can't believe they actually have a course on framing.
To commit a crime is bad enough, but to pin it on soeone else-that's just terrible! :D :D :D

09-16-2004, 11:29 AM
I have made some frames, I am sure its easy enough if you have the right tools. As I have done a fair bit of woodwork I thought it would be easy enough, but getting the mitres right took ages!
I am still looking for a source of the mouldings for a reasonable price - the stuff I have bought made me think it might be cheaper to get them made :)


09-16-2004, 11:33 AM
Good luck Angie I hope you enjoy the course you will have to tell us all about it when you return. :) I have tried framing some of my art work myself but it wasn't that brilliant so I bought my husband a picture framing book instead hoping he would get the hint :D it's still on the bookshelf gathering dust :( perhaps I should twist his arm up his back :evil: Have yourself a great time. Just think of that welcome home from the little ones when you return.


Silent Jaguar
09-16-2004, 12:02 PM
I'm a pretty good framer, I just don't work well with wood.

09-16-2004, 12:45 PM
Making the frames is one thing, making the matts is quite another. I hope they will be teaching all about both. Without a proper matt-cutter making your own is a horrendous chore and in my own experience leaves one with a very non-professional product.


09-16-2004, 01:10 PM
[email protected]!

I came to the forum today to post a question about framing--how, and how much does it save to do your own, and what's the least expensive way if you don't build your own frames...

it seems to be a problem for many of us.

09-16-2004, 01:56 PM
Angie, is that the APFA course? I'd be interested in hearing about it, if so. (I've never found a framing forum on WC. Where does that kind of info go?) I've never gotten into doing my own framing, because it's so cheap and easy to just order frames from Graphik Dimensions. (http://pictureframes.com But my husband has access to a scene shop, and keeps suggesting we start doing some framing, so maybe it's in our future.


jerry lucey
09-16-2004, 03:26 PM
Prior to moving to Mexico, I operated my own Art Gallery in the Smoky Mountains and framing was a steady income. Have no plans or time to go to school? So start on your own. You will need a business permit because framing supply houses are wholesale and only sell to other businesses. So go file a DBA (doing business as) under a business name. The suppliers offer a big line of profiles and most offer chop services, where they cut the frame to fit your picture size and ship you the 4 pieces for you to put together. If you get serious abount framing, you wil want a power saw to cut your own frames. A simple matt cutter at under $100.00 will get you started with matts. A local shop can cut your glass, I always hated to cut glass.. Stay with chop service until you decide that framing is for you. The key to really doing a good job is being able to select profiles and color matts that enhance the artwork. In a lot of areas, just framing for other artists can be a good way to go. Here in Mexico, I buy my mouldings from Home Depot and since the mouldings are intended for wall decor, I have to tack and glue thin wood strips to the back as a fit for the painting. I cut with a back saw and a mitre box. Very old fashioned...jerry

09-16-2004, 05:58 PM
Thanks Anne and hoski!
[email protected]
Nick maybe I will find cheaper mouldings sources for us all, wouldnt that be great.
Eileen tell em no dinner til the framing begins :evil:
SJ, I figure the same will be true for me :rolleyes:
Glenn - yes, cutting mats is involved with the classes.
Yup Joa.
Noma, here is the link http://www.pictureframingschool.com/Index.htm I will give you the story when I get back.
Thanks for sharing Jerry, not a thing wrong with old fashioned!

09-17-2004, 03:24 AM
Be glad to hear about how you get on. :)
Is a matt what we call a mount in the uk? I have a great mount cutter, got it on ebay and it has paid for itself in no time, have done lots and still on the first blade.
Using a normal moulding for a frame, and putting a square section strip on the back seems a great idea. I do not have a the V nailer for the frames, this might be a good investment, I have been drilling a hole just undersize, and nailing them, after clamping with glue.

I have not done any with glass in, I had enough trouble cutting a bit for the greenhouse, fortunately I have only framed oils up to now.


09-17-2004, 10:05 AM
Goodonya (Aussie talk..LOL) Angie!!

I don't frame my work anymore......I only use gallery wrapped canvases and sell as is......kinda got sick of hearing things like..... I love that painting but the frame wouldn't go with my furniture! lol

I did, however, do a lot of furniture restoration at one time and absolutely loved working with wood and making it glow again. I think the idea of framing for others is a good one......a nice little family business....never hurts an artist to have extra income during the slow times.

Enjoy your time away......look at it as a little luxury I'm sure you've earned.

Kind regards


jerry lucey
09-17-2004, 11:21 AM
Yes, having a sideline for the slow periods can make a big difference. I know of artists that have survived by adding framing and/or print production (giclee) to their art sales. Those dry periods can kill us...in this business you really need to plan or put away for the rainy day. I enjoy doing framing, especially so if it is one of my own sold works......jerry

09-17-2004, 12:33 PM
This should be a real experience for you. I'm glad to hear it is a 4 day course because to do framing right takes time to learn.

When I was 13 years old (53 yrs. old now), I started working at a photographic studio. When I first started, in addition to scrubbing the darkroom floors they starting teaching me how to frame. By the time, I was 20 years old and in college, I was a master framer. The studio developed a whole clientiel around the custom framing of Water Color Artist's work.

The trick is having the right tools. Some of the framing equipment I started using had not been used since the 1930s including a monster molding cutter that would slice (not saw) through 2 inch thick molding without creating so much as a minor wood chip. The Photographic studio had been around since the 1900s and the later owners didn't have any idea what was under some of the tarps that covered up phenomenal framing equipment.

It was really neat. I started working that young because I grew up rather poor and it became by "play ground." It really was fun.

I don't frame anymore, but if I retire in a few years, I might do it for fun and to supplement my income. Have fun and enjoy!!!!
Larry C.

Lady Carol
09-17-2004, 01:03 PM
Can I come too?

09-18-2004, 02:02 PM
THE PERFECT 45 DEGREE CUT: I recently did some checking into this part of framing.. Apparently these perfect cuts are a result of using a very sharp blade that is drawn over both sides of the molding at the same time. I found that saws are not accurate enough for professional work.

09-18-2004, 06:56 PM
I did the mitres with a very sharp block plane. Then used a 45 degree square. It still difficult to get joints without gaps as the pieces also have to be precisely the same length.

09-18-2004, 07:17 PM
The trick is having the right tools.
I was going to say, "Amen to that?" But then I thought of this, "The trick is having the right professional-quality tools." Too many wannabes buy according to price and can't understand why their tools don't perform the way those in the local frame shop do. They "look" the same, after all. The same admonition applies to power tools. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to make precision cuts with a power tool that has sloppy settings - or more pointedly, "slop" in the settings.

including a monster molding cutter that would slice (not saw) through 2 inch thick molding without creating so much as a minor wood chip.
I believe many, if not most, frame shops still use "choppers" for cutting moldings. At least I know the devices are still sold new. One problem nowadays is finding someone who has the expertise for sharpening the blades of those gadgets since they are too expensive to simply replace when they get dull. Used to be, in the "good ole days," that there were always shops around that did that sort of thing - tool sharpening.

One other very important tool - or set of tools - that are, IMO, a necessity - a quality set of corner clamps for clamping the 45 miters at the corners together.

09-19-2004, 05:00 AM
I tend to frame my own prints. It's quite a bit cheaper. For prints I use (cheap) metal molding that I purchase through Wholesale Frame. I started making my prints in somewhat standard sizes and I now buy my 100% cotton mats in bulk from http://www.matcutter.com/. I used to cut my own mats. I still remember the first time I tried it and cut about 6 mats with the same blade. It took me a while to realize that I needed to change blades quite often to make sure there was a nice bevel edge. Some art shops that sell mats will have all the equipment for you to use, all you have do do is buy the mats from them and bring your blades and you can cut the mats using their mat cutters.

But framing in general...at least the way I do it is pretty simple. Since most of my prints are around the same size and they all have the same (or similar) frame and the same mats, they all look pretty nice in an art exhibit (http://www.juanulloa.com/exhibit/translucence/).

With paintings, I prefer to either gallery wrap them or make simple canvas floaters out of wood and paint them a neutral color.

09-19-2004, 09:09 AM
Wow! I 've learned a lot in this thread, most importantly I need to stop letting my husband cut the chops.

I use a moulding supplier out of Savannah, Georgia, called XYLO. Ask for Lisa, she knows everything and she'll quickly send you a catalogue. I get my floater frame moulding from them. Toll free number is: 1-800-627-5040.They have a chop service. I've been very satisfied with them.

Floater frames are great for stretched canvas and they're not too hard to put together.

jerry lucey
09-19-2004, 12:42 PM
Cnsidering tools for framing....a wholesale equiptment supplier would have a full selection of tools - like saws that are factory set at 45 and matt cutters that are automated. For me the money was always a question and framing was a sideline at my gallery. I cut up a lot of scrap wood learning where the exact setting was for a 45 cut and the same with the matt cutter. The inexpensive cutters do not have stops so it took a lot of cutting to get a corner without an over-cut. The blades took a lot of changing, a new blade had a free flow feeling to it - once the blade needed extra pressure to cut - it had been in the cutter too long. But, as I got the feel, it all went along fine. The buyers were satisfied.
Happy framing...jerry

09-19-2004, 01:11 PM
My other side line is violin making, so sharpening is not a problem.

09-19-2004, 03:27 PM
I've been working at a framing shop for the past year, and it's definitely a good skill to learn if you're a serious artist, because those frames can cost an arm and a leg retail.

If you're going to be cutting the frames at home and end up with a small gap between the corners when you put it together, you can use a special framing putty to fill in the hole and make it look better. You might have to search a few online stores to find it...try Dick Blick. I know that you can get the basic supplies from them for framing if you think you'll be doing enough of your own framing to make the investment worth it.

Oh, and another tip for people cutting their own frames at home: When you're measuring the wood for the cut, add 1/8" to the final dimensions. So if you're trying to get it to fit a 16x20 painting, make it 16 1/8" x 20 1/8" when you cut it, so the picture can fit in the frame with a little bit of an allowance. You won't believe how many times my boss forgets to do this, and he's been framing for five years! I think I work in one of the most unorganized framing shops ever.

jerry lucey
09-19-2004, 06:12 PM
Maybe not....my shop was part of my gallery and the gallery was also my studio where I painted......I do not think of myself as very organized when I paint and this arrangement came down hard on all the negatives....jerry

09-19-2004, 07:02 PM
Oh, and another tip for people cutting their own frames at home: When you're measuring the wood for the cut, add 1/8" to the final dimensions.
Unfortunately, there is more to it than that. Knowing WHERE to measure your cut is as important as making sure it's got enough freeboard. For example: where do you make the cut mark - outside edge, inside edge...??? The correct answer is "where the corners of the painting will rest within the particular design of molding you are working with." And this is NOT and easy one to figure out and will lead to a huge waste of moldings until you do figure it out.

jerry lucey
09-19-2004, 08:34 PM
where to make the cut is very important. I remember that there was a formula you could use based on the width of the profile. Sorry to say I can not remember how it went. I just remember it worked...jerry

09-19-2004, 10:42 PM
OK, I found a page that will be helpful to people trying to cut their own frames, and will help you figure out how long to cut the molding.


(Go to the "How Long Does My Molding Need To Be?" near the bottom to see the formula that I think jerry lucey was just talking about.)

09-20-2004, 08:51 AM
OK, I found a page that will be helpful to people trying to cut their own frames, and will help you figure out how long to cut the molding.


(Go to the "How Long Does My Molding Need To Be?" near the bottom to see the formula that I think jerry lucey was just talking about.)
An excellent demontration and shows exactly what I was making reference to. If you understand the principal being demonstrated then it's a simple matter to make your cut mark at the correct spot and one can then simply use a tape measure to insure the cut lengths are equal to the sides of the painting - plus "freeboard." I've added a direct link to the demo page here:

Demo of Length Measurements (http://www2.fwi.com/~krumy/picture/measuring/molding.html)

I personally choose to add 1/4 inch "freeboard" to my cut lengths since my canvas is heavy-duty and not easily tucked at the corners, thereby making a bulkier corner for a given length of stretcher strip than otherwise. I also adjust the depth of the "rabbet" - or "pocket" into which the art work will set - depending on the art work being framed.

09-20-2004, 11:05 AM
That article of framing is good - the only thing is I dont have a table saw. I was rough cutting by hand or with a band saw, then cleaning up with a plane.

I am sure an accurate chop saw, set at 45degrees would work well as well.

Need a nice V nailer then - to finish them off.


This is a good uk source for gear.


jerry lucey
09-20-2004, 01:35 PM
I might note, that when I was doing a fair amount of framing - I had what I believe was called a Thumb Nailer, which cut an L shaped grove at the corner (both wood pieces at the same time)and there were L shaped plastic inserts to pull the corners together. The same type system that is usually offered if you order chop service.....jerry

09-21-2004, 04:01 PM
great idea. Where are you taking this class? I would love to do the same thing. with framing and matting charges, it is not worth painting or printing something to sell. I cant afford to get it into any stores. Gini

09-22-2004, 07:32 AM
I'm back. Please forgive me if I miss anyones question, this thread really took off ...

I just finished the class, I loved it, I had hands on with all the professional equipment,I cut mats (or mounts) of every size - even double mats and mats with multiple openings. the professional equipment really takes the quess work out of the framing job. The chopper as some of you have noted is fantastic and made a perfect chop on all nine of the class members mouldings. The V nailer someone eles metioned was quick and accurate.

Classes are offered in Las Vegas next month gini ... http://www.pictureframingschool.com/Index.htm They are costly but I really feel like I got my dollars back with framing knowledge.

This class is especially good if you are interested in starting your own frame shop - the business end was very well covered with exercises on selling and pricing.

I framed my own certificate - dry mounted the certificate to a foam core board, cut the double mat, chopped the moulding and v-nailed it together, cut the glass-cleaned the glass :eek: , put on the backing paper and put on the hanging hardware. we did that in the course of 4 days. I will take a pic of it in a little bit.

The professional equipment will cost 10,000 up! I will start by framing all my canvas' and pastels by ordering my mouldings chopped...maybe get a business loan next year and start the frame shop... Still thinking it out. :D

09-22-2004, 09:50 AM
I framed my own certificate - dry mounted the certificate to a foam core board, cut the double mat, chopped the moulding and v-nailed it together, cut the glass-cleaned the glass :eek: , put on the backing paper and put on the hanging hardware. we did that in the course of 4 days. I will take a pic of it in a little bit.

The professional equipment will cost 10,000 up!
That 10,000 should have been $10,000 :p

Sorry for the flash and glare

09-22-2004, 09:51 AM
Nice thread. Glad to hear that the workshop went so well.

I've been making my own crude frames for a couple of years. I use a radial compound mitre saw to cut the stock and glue them up using corner clamps. I join the corners with "Liquid Nails" and drywall screws. I counter sink the screws and fill the depressions with spackle. I usually prime, sand and paint the frames with opaque colors. Like anything else, it gets easier with practice.

I had the problem Jerry mentioned when looking for moulding stock - that is, I couldn't find anyone who would sell to me without a business license. So, what I do is buy stock lumber from the building supply store and glue up my own profiles. This is usually 1" X 2" pine with a piece of lattice glued and brad nailed along one edge to give the well for the painting to sit in. I can produce one of these frames (22" X 28") for a total cost of about $6.00 (US).

In the past I've also nailed painted lattice strips directly to the canvas stretchers. For some styles of work - abstracts in particular - this simple approach can produce a nice effect.

Here's my list of tools for making frames:

Power mitre saw
4 corner clamps
Several spring type clamps
Electric brad nailer
Electric palm sander
Electric drill with screwdriver bits, counter sink bit and drill bits

These are all on the low end price wise. The mitre saw was the most costly item at around $100 (US). It would be nice to add a table saw to the list.

I find the whole frame building process to be very relaxing and beneficial to my peace of mind. A nice left-brain complement to the right-brain activity of creating art - all done in a shared spirit of accomplishment.


09-22-2004, 10:35 AM
PastelMama, I'm glad you enjoyed the class. If you're really interested in possibly pursuing this as a career, I suggest you pick up the Library of Professional Framing book set by Vivian Kistler.


This set will tell you all you need to know about how to frame different materials, including cross-stitches (which I find to be a pain in the butt). I also ordered a book called "Color and Design for the Picture Framer" by Nona Powers, which helps you pick out the right color mats for a customer's picture.

I had to buy all these books because my boss at the framing shop only taught me the bare minimum before she decided not to show up anymore and left me to run the whole framing section of her and her husband's store by myself! It hasn't been the most pleasant situation to be in, but I am glad that I at least learned how to frame.

09-22-2004, 11:04 AM
ks1017--Thanks for the link but I got the books yesterday on the last day of class. I, too, recommend them. :)

09-22-2004, 11:09 AM
OOps I meant to reply to Steve and say that you are much more industrious than I could ever be! I need the total direction of the class, the books and the pro equipment but I totally respect you and your abilities to do what you do! :clap:

09-22-2004, 02:29 PM
For those DIY'ers interested - I found a WC article by Rod Webb for making a really clever ajustable framing jig (clamp). It's at http://www.wetcanvas.com/Articles2/138/139/index.php .


09-22-2004, 08:08 PM
Gosh you learned alot in a few days! Your frame looks great! Congratulations and good for you for taking the initiative to learn how to do this. Seems like making frames and mats properly is an art in itself.

Yay Angie!! :clap:

09-23-2004, 03:18 AM
Your frame looks a very nice professional job.

I have just bought some frame moulding as I want to re-frame and mount a woodcut I have. I shall be doing it the handsawing and planing way, but it should be ok as it is not very wide. I do have corner clamps, so that will help.

09-23-2004, 05:08 PM
Hi everyone,

this post has really taken off. Framing is a huge subject. Now for my question! I have seen mat cutters in Michaels craft stores. Should I invest! (they cost about $100.00, but you can get a 40% discount coupon from the paper) I don't remember any name brands. I just wanted to know if this was worth the purchase. Thanks Gini

09-23-2004, 06:07 PM
I have a mat/mount cutter and have found it well worth it - it does a very good job and has paid for itself.
Mine is one with a ruler and a cutter that slides along it, it does not slip.

09-23-2004, 06:39 PM
Thank you Nick, I appreciate your info. I will look into getting one. Have a great weekend. Gini :wave:

jerry lucey
09-23-2004, 09:28 PM
For a mat cutter, I have used a number of Logan cutters - starting with the least expensive and as need for mats increased moving up the line. Found they all did a great job....jerry

09-24-2004, 09:59 AM
I have seen mat cutters in Michaels craft stores. Should I invest!
The most important point to know when buying a matt cutter is the availability of replacement blades. One that takes the common "Xacto" or craft-knife (box cutter) blades is going to be the most cost effective. Nothing will ruin a matt cut quicker than a dull or nicked blade. And having a matt cutter for which replacements are hard to find, or impossible to find, is a real bummer.

jerry lucey
09-24-2004, 10:33 AM
Regarding cutting your own mats for your paintings. I would suggest the least expensive logan is a good buy and all that you need. I never found a problem in getting blades for the Logan, it is a popular brand. For me the negative was handling the over-cuts in the corners...a real pain, but after time I got the feel of it and a sharp blade helped. It was in the corners that a slightly dull blade got me in trouble, it would work well on the long cut and then trouble. ...jerry

09-25-2004, 05:31 AM
My turn to ask a question now :)
On your course how did you clamp the frame together while it glued. I always find this the hardest thing to get right. I made this frame and used crossed wedges to press them together - but there must be an easer way. :confused:

09-25-2004, 06:45 AM
My turn to ask a question now :)
On your course how did you clamp the frame together while it glued. I always find this the hardest thing to get right. I made this frame and used crossed wedges to press them together - but there must be an easer way. :confused:
V nailer ( or Underpinner).... a machine that costs alot of cash but the frame requires no clamping. A little glue, vee naile it and voila ready instantly.

Thats a link to see what I am talking about. As you can see you need an air compressor to work the underpinner. Out of a class of 9 folks doing this for the first time NO ONE made a mistake - all frames were right the first go around.

09-25-2004, 11:40 AM

Well as usual, the joints in my frame came out so badly that I have made a cutting jig so I can us my bandsaw to cut the mitres. Spent all morning on this.
The idea is that the 2 pieces of frame are held at 90 degrees to each other, and a single cut is made with the edge of the jig tight up against the fence of the saw. One piece is in front and one behind. Errors are then suppose to cancel out.
I gave it a quick test on some offcuts and it seemed to work fine, the cut edges just required mininal clean up with a plane - a file would do. I have now glued it together, and it looks nice and tight, and a right angle.

Of course the real test will be when I use it in anger.
Cost = zero, but a sharp fine blade for the saw would be a good idea.


jerry lucey
09-25-2004, 01:22 PM

No anger...it is un-artistic....jerry

09-25-2004, 03:27 PM
Nick how very clever you are. :)
Jerry, hmmmm, never throw a paintbrush or a canvas? lol, no no, I havent :D :p well maybe once....

09-27-2004, 02:51 AM
Angie so glad to hear you enjoyed the course. You made a lovely job framing your own certificate, I bet you were chuffed with yourself I know I would be :) Wish we had some of those courses near where I live.


09-27-2004, 04:36 AM
I tried my jig 'in anger' it worked pretty well. :)
Of course theres always a problem - mine was I used a frame material with a thick silver finish, the saw chipped this out as I had the surface down onto the jig; if I had the suface upmost so it was surported by the wood, it would have been better.
Oh well I will have another go with a different material - I will get it in the end...

Anyone know a good source of picture frame moulding in the uk?