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Are perfect v-grooves possible?

Discussion in 'The Grumble' started by Montacute, Nov 13, 2008.

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  1. Montacute

    Montacute Grumbler

    Hello everyone,

    I'm a framing customer that is very interested in a good, quality framing job and have tried to educate myself about framing. I found a PPFA framer to go to and asked for two V grooves to be cut into my top mat. The problem is that two of the corners on one of the grooves were not perfect. The angles were not perfectly on the diagonal, if that makes sense. You could only see it if you looked at it up close, but it bugged me. I brought it back and they recut it. I got it back with the exact same problem. So, could someone tell me if perfect v-grooves are possible, or if this is as good as it gets. I feel pretty annoyed--I went with the expensive framery in hopes of perfection.

    Thanks for any opinions.
    American Picture Frame Academy 1-888-840-9605

    The American Picture Framing Academy Learn Picture Framing Now
  2. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Difficult to answer this Montacute. Nothing man made on this earth is "perfect" and if you examine anything closely enough you can find a flaw.

    I would say that if you have to look for an imperfection without seeing it as you normally would view a framed piece then yes, you may be too picky. The framer you took it to re-cut the mat and performed a fair amount of additional work to try to please you.

    That said, you are the customer and this framer needs to please you or refer you to another framer.

  3. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    If cut by hand, and the framer knows you are picky, then yes they can try to get it perfect. The framer may need to realign their matcutter, or pay extra attention to reinserting the dropout. If they used a computer mat cutter, I don't know. I don't use one!

    But if the corner is a little off, that may be the best that framer can do. he is actually slicing off a 1/16th of an inch or less off the edge of the top of a piece of paper, it is more than a little difficult!
  4. Montacute

    Montacute Grumbler

    I know I can be very picky and am trying to figure out if it is unreasonable--I'm definitely trying to not be unreasonable. This is a needlework piece, so I went all out--rag mats, museum glass. I honestly wish I had not asked for v-grooves at all. The funny thing is, the inner v-groove is always perfect--the outer one is always flawed. Is that usually how it goes?

    So do you think you'd try to live with it or bring it back again? Is there any type of ribbon or paper I could use to cover up the second v-groove, something in the vein of a french mat?
  5. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    You might approach the framer and tell them nicely that you realize you may be more picky than most customers, but ask them if they'd be willing to replace the mat one more time without the v-groove.

    I have some customers that will examine work with a magnifying glass. Honestly. We either come to an understanding of what is within the norm of quality framing or they go elsewhere. More often than not they come back.
  6. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Ask your framer. Go back and see if they'll honor your request. I would be offended if a customer wasn't satisfied and wouldn't bring it back to me to "fix". A french mat may be a good solution, but it will entail cutting the mat again as you really can't "just cover it up". And I think "covering it up" would bug you more than the off kilter v-groove!
  7. Jill

    Jill CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    yes perfect v-grooves are possible. and yes you deserve them if you want them.
    Any framer should be striving to please all their customers no matter how precise the customer is, that is what you are paying us for.

    Ask the framer to do it again, if it is still wrong inquire if they can send it out to another shop to have done. This is not unreasonable. Just Hard for some framers to do.
  8. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Anyway to post a picture. Maybe that would help us...
  9. imaluma

    imaluma SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    You could even have him try to open it up into an open vee.

    Or just lay another layer on top.
  10. framing fashionista

    framing fashionista CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I agree with Bob and Dave, please do your framer the courtesy of having an honest conversation with them in person. You will get a hundred different answers from a hundred different people in this forum. The quality of the v-groove is dependent on the skill of the framer, the equipment, and sometimes even the weather/humidity. Most framers will bend over backwards to please a client but please do them the favor of talking with them directly about solutions. Perhaps they can suggest an alternative design or give you another recommendation.

    I would hate to think that someone left my shop unhappy for even the smallest thing and then felt they could not talk to me about it for some reason.
  11. freakquency

    freakquency SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I too, like the french mat idea. Altho your framer will have to replace the entire mat it will make for a nice presentation. The fault lying in the framer's ability to do a french mat properly. As with anything good french mats are an art in themselves and prone to faults as much as v-grooves. Aside from that do away with distractions altogether and replace the mat with something more streamlined, no v-groove, no french detail, just a non obtrusive mat that allows the art to speak for itself.
  12. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    You also mentioned that this was a double v-groove, and the inner groove has been perfect both times. So you might have the mat recut, with just the single v-groove, if that design is appealing to you.
  13. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    Keep in mind that there is no thing as absolute perfection.

    So without seeing close-up pictures of the problem area, I think it is unfair for anyone to be critical of this framers work. Post a picture and then the responses might be more meaningful. With a good close up picture, if there is a problem, a framer here might be able to make a suggestion that would allow your framer to adjust and correct it.

    I know I would not like my work being criticized site unseen. :shrug:
  14. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    I'm just happy it isn't me!!
  15. Montacute

    Montacute Grumbler

    Thanks for all the opinions. I'll try to get a picture but I'm not sure it will show up. I will go back with it one more time to my framer and see if he thinks I'm being ridiculous I guess.

    What's the worst that can happen--he refuses to do anything. I did just bring him something else to be bag-up framed, with a fillet this time, so hopefully he will see I am a serious customer.

    Have any of you professionals ever refused to re-do a job if you thought the customer was unreasonable? Just wondering.

    BILL WARD SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    " if you examine anything closely enough you can find a flaw"
    in history past the Nippon artisans purposely added a flaw in each of their works(I''ll leave it to you to research the 'why' of that)

    it interesting that the same problems were in both sets of mats--2 of 4 outside -v corners 'bad'. we can all play 'what if' & 'suppose it' all day but the only solution you will find is to have a chat with the framer and you explian to them exactly what isnt 'right' about them
  17. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    No, I have not refused to do a re-do. I have redone a couple of jobs because the mat was the wrong color, then I do charge for the replacement mat. But if I have to redo a mat because of a flaw in my part then I will redo "happily".

    Knowing in advance that a customer will be picky I consider myself forewarned and treat the artwork accordingly. All works get checked over and made sure they are done correctly, but I had a customer that did measure the inner mat and found that one side was a 1/32nd smaller than the other three sides. I did recut that mat, but I did resent that degree of pickiness ;) .

    If that customer had not moved away I would have considered "firing" her. Or adding a minor precharge for potentially redoing work. To cover time spent not as a penalty.
  18. RParrish

    RParrish PFG, Picture Framing God

    Would the corners even be an issue if they where using a computer mat cutter(CMC)? What did the framer use to cut the mat ?

    That said any problems cutting a mat are more than likely going to be in the corners, and they are correctable with a little effort.
  19. johnny

    johnny SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    It really would help to see a picture.

    But consider that when you go into a frameshop you're doing more than buying a product, you're basically hiring a framer just like any other job where you need to have custom work performed. Picture framers often like to call themselves "Professionals" but as far as real business worldviews go the term which is far closer to our position would be "skilled craftsman." You may have looked for someone who belongs to the PPFA, but that's an association. Someone might join the association, but that doesn't ensure their skill. The way to vet a framer is the same way you would any other skilled craftsman. Look at his presentation, his work, you can ask for references like you would a carpenter or such but it's far easier with a framer because we tend to have our handiwork hanging all around our businesses. Sometimes when customers come in to my shops they hold on to their artwork while they walk around and look at everything. They aren't shopping. They are checking out the quality of both my craftsmanship and design.
  20. GeraldB

    GeraldB Grumbler

    Hi I am a relatively new framer and have tried hard to master the V Groove. I even went back to the suppliers of my equipment and got them to cut V groove for me, which in each case was less perfect than the groove I was not happy with. I have also studied many V grooved pieces done by other reputable framers and have never found one that was perfect. I therefore try to discourage cusomers from using this option as getting the corners perfect seem an impossible task for me.
  21. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hi Gerald ...before I got my Wizard I somewhat discouraged v-grooves too. The new CMC's do a pretty darn good job of it somewhat effortlessly. Now I have a separate set of corner samples with v-grooves on them and my sales of v-grooves have gone way up.
  22. GeraldB

    GeraldB Grumbler

    Hi Dave
    I am using Fletcher at the moment and can cut them but as I said am not entirely happy with the corners. I started out with a FrameCo system that had one of those twin blade V groove cutters which was completely useless. When my business grows to a size that I can warrant it I certainly intend to go to an automated Wizard.
  23. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    And then there is always the "3 Foot Rule" :icon21:

    If it looks good from a normal viewing distance of 3 ft. or more it is OK!

    Unless, you are a mechanical engineer and are used to working in 1000'sth of an inch. In that case you have to understand that our professional framing equipment is not able to work to that tolerance. About 1/16th is as good as it gets in most cases.
    Each industry has different tolerances.
  24. MerpsMom

    MerpsMom <span style="color: red"><b><i>Charter Member</i><

    Gerald, what method are you using? Some people used to recommend that you use a "starter" and an "ender" at the top and bottom when you slice off the fallout. The theory was that the blade had already begun its run and you were less likely to hook the beginning edge because you weren't "slamming" into the fallout.

    Also, your edges have to be so perfectly squared up: if your measuring arm isn't secure, you'll end up with just a slight trapezoid.

    Anyway, I love v-grooves and have had success with them.

    Mrs. Equally-As-Picky :)
  25. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Gerald I prop up the corners with a strip of extra mat board when cutting the v-groove. The blade pushes the mat's edge out of the way and takes off too much at the ends otherwise, IMO.
  26. GeraldB

    GeraldB Grumbler

    Thanks Paul... That confirms my view. However as indicated by the thread poster some people are extremely fussy. I purchased a large number of African animal prints that were pre matted with V grooves that I thought were bad, framed them and have sold the lot without a single query. So is beauty in the eye of the beholder?
  27. GeraldB

    GeraldB Grumbler

    Hi Merpsmom
    I have reverted to the method of cutting through from the back and then doing the shallow cut on the front. It works but is a ball ache.
  28. Pat Murphey

    Pat Murphey SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    The original poster said that the v-groove corners are not lined up on the diagonal. If that's the case, he/she has every right to complain about the sloppy work. There is no excuse for delivering that flaw to a customer. It has nothing to do with being "picky". It should be fixed or the money refunded so that the customer can take the job to a competent mat cutter.
  29. nancyg

    nancyg CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    a what??

    and we can't say ####? (dood)

    Gerald....tsk tsk
  30. GeraldB

    GeraldB Grumbler

    My comment was purely one of my experiences with V grooves. I fully agree that if the customer is not happy the job needs to be redone. I steer clear where possible because, as I said before, I have not been able to perfect the V Groove. That does not mean that I am prepared to make inferior product In fact I am known to be over fussy and strive for perfection as I feel a job is not worth doing if it is not done properly
  31. GeraldB

    GeraldB Grumbler

    Apologies Nancyg I did not mean to offend
  32. Luddite

    Luddite PFG, Picture Framing God

    Not so.....Try using a lead in,or "cheater strip"...a narrow beveled mat scrap that fits up against the bevel in your fall out.Most of the corner problems are caused by the blade meeting the resistance of the board and flexing a bit.Using the lead in strip means that this happens in a disposable scrap NOT your fallout.That should keep the corners looking good. Check the PFM back articles (matting section of course)There is a fabulous article (or two) about manual V-grooves..I keep a binder with all these articles printed out,great reference!BTW, The F-T website used to have some fabulous articles too,glad I snagged em before the change in the site. L....................(yeah It was said before..in this thread but it bears repeating....For the record, I`m Uber Anal!)
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2008
  33. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Pat, I agree with you that it should be fixed, and I think the majority of Grumblers feel that way too. However this was an anonymous customer query and I didn't feel like I should be adament and say "#### Straight, that framer should do it right and do it free!" But I don't know what her framer's policy is. If he doesn't want to fix it for her there are other framers who would!
  34. RoboFramer

    RoboFramer PFG, Picture Framing God


    You guys sure have some educated customers over there!
  35. johnny

    johnny SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    LOL! It's November, we're all too busy to notice! Things that make you go hmmm
  36. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I cut V-grooves on a 48" C&H using the dropout shaving method.
    The trick is to get the V-goove stop calibrated and then never move it. It takes time to get it just right.
    I also use a suitable thickness drill bit as a guage to set the gap at the far end, so that the two bars are perfectly parallel. To avoid the blade hooking at the start of the cut, dip the blade a couple inches away from the dropout and pull smoothly though.

    Another thing to remember is to replace the dropout the same way it came out.
  37. Montacute

    Montacute Grumbler

    Bob, you bring up precisely what has made me start this thread in the first place--I don't want my framer to resent me, especially not when he has another one of pieces to frame. By the same token, I don't want to look at my framed piece and feel anything other than pure, unadulterated joy.

    John, you made me laugh. I am nothing if not an educated consumer. I actually took a 6 week framing class at our local community college, just so I could learn about conservation framing. I don't want to do it myself, but I want to know how to speak the lingo and know what I am getting. I am a needleworker and was very confused about the best way to preserve my pieces, getting different framers saying different things, so I decided I had better learn some things and make my own decisions. I do my own lacing precisely because I know no one will take the care I do with needle and thread.

    Here's a pretty good story--I asked a few friends for a framer recommendation, and they sent me to a particular place. I asked for rag mats and she said, oh we don't carry those, they are just a different brand than what we have. Thank goodness I knew enough to grab my needlework and run out the door!

    Since I'm chatting, one other frustration I have had with framers is that I will bring in a needlework piece and say I want something really special, and most framers just reach for the mats and suggest maybe a triple mat. I learned about fillets and v-grooves on my own. I'd love to figure out where I can see different examples of out of the ordinary framing. I've seen some hand-cut patterns on mats, but can't find anyone who would do that locally.

    Oh, before I forget, someone asked what mat cutter my framer uses...I don't know (I am definitely not very educated about names of the machinery), but I do know he said he doesn't have a computer mat cutter anymore. Part of why I chose him was his online site, which shows many computerized mat patterns. I inquired and was told he no longer had the computerized cutter.

    Thank you again everyone for contributing to my education. I have lurked here for a few months but not posted before.
  38. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Montacute, what you are describing clearly indicates that the mat has a hook in the corner. This is either a problem with lower end equipment or it is out of adjustment. The framer is using a traditional straight line manual mat cutter.

    The reason for what you are seeing is that with the manual cutter the blade plunges through the board at the starting point and as it drags through the board it will correct the line of the cut by way of aligning the head as it travels down the board. Now this can also be a problem with technique that is an art. Many framers push the blade through the board and the plunge is a punch through hole. As this is done the head naturally wants to push toward the bar if it is not done properly. The entry of the blade needs to be a slice down without the head riding forward as it is done.

    The inner bevel is a process of slicing off the oppsing bevel which is done by starting the cut beyond the beginning of the board to be cut. By beginning this cut prior to the slicing action the drag of the blade is naturally corrected by the underlayment.

    The framer doing the work can perfect this by adjusting the angle of their wrist, arm and elbow while using their thumb to lift up on the back of the cutting head while pressing down on the forward side of the head. The cutting head must remain absolutely stationary while the blade swings down into the mat.

    I see you are in the upper S.C. region which if you are near the coast you should come to my store so I can inspect the cut and show you what I am talking about. I have a great deal of respect for the majority of framers and the PPFA as an organization but caution that just as with any trade organization, simply paying the annual dues makes you a member. A huge percentage of truly professional framers do not belong to the PPFA.
  39. johnny

    johnny SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Thank you for providing a customers perspective. We can all learn from it.
  40. pictureframingpro

    pictureframingpro MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Too bad you weren't in Port Orchard.... I cut some really nice V-Grooves!!!! :D

    It is also nice to know that some customers take the time to research and learn about conservation of their pieces that have any kind of value.

    It is really frustrating when someone comes in with a needlework and says " Just put it in a cheap frame, with the cheap glass,.... no I do not want mats" and you try to explain the glass on the work thing....... or the benefit of the u.v. glass, or rag mats.
  41. Montacute

    Montacute Grumbler

    I have to say I am wishing I lived near one of you! Jeff, thank you for your explanation and your very, very kind offer to look at my piece. Unfortunately, I am about 4 hours from you--I am in the NW corner of the state, right next to the Georgia line. I'm 2 hours from both Atlanta and Charlotte.

    I have thought of another question--given that my framer has tried twice now on the v-grooves, I'm thinking I'll just go in and ask for plain mats. If I do this, could I then pay another framer to cut v-grooves? Is this something most framers would be willing to do on an already cut mat?
  42. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Last question first:

    That I wouldn't do. Have the second framer cut the mat if you really are dissatisfied. I mean are you gonna use the first framer again? If you find a second framer that you like are you gonna stick with the first one, or move on? We tend to get our loyalist customers because they grew dissatisfied with their original framer.

    Now your first question. You have been educated further! Ask your framer if he (she) knows about the grumble! If not suggest he (she) look into it. If he (She) knows of us how secure would you feel in dropping the hint that you are Montacute? I think many of us would be surprised to know we were letting our customers down, and would want to do better! Especially after having spouted off about how good we can do v-grooves!

    Oh, and as a framer I can't "fire" a customer like I alluded to. They would have left me for greener pastures if I made mistakes and kept repeating them! The Grumble while being a place we can rant is also a great resource for us to learn new tricks and learn from other framers. And occasionally get the customer's point of view!
  43. HB

    HB SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    It would be extremely helpful if we had a pic to look at - if you can't post it here, you could at least email it to one of us who could!

    There is no such thing as a perfect v-groove - someone could find a flaw in anything! What one calls perfect, another calls OK.

    While we have sympathy with you, you may go to all the framers in your neighbourhood and not be happy. Maybe all those framers aren't up to speed; maybe they are. We can't tell without seeing the work. While we can't say you are too fussy (you are what you are), you may not be able to find what you are looking for.

    Have you ever seen a V-groove that meets your satisfaction? If yes, expect better from your current framer and if they cannot produce, try elsewhere. Do you have to get within 12" of the work to see flaws? If so, you MAY be impossible to enjoy please with V-grooves.
  44. Montacute

    Montacute Grumbler

    You are right, Bob--if the second framer cut me a perfect v-groove, they would win me for life. The only reason I was thinking of asking about a second framer cutting my v-grooves on a pre-cut mat is because I'm thinking surely my first framer will not refund the money I spent on my rag mats, which was $50 and change. I think he would refund the $30 charge for the v-grooves and I would feel like a reasonable person asking for that. I do want some decoration on my mat though.

    Are open v-grooves easier to cut than regular v-grooves? Someone on this thread mentioned that as a possibility and I could live with that, but not if there continue to be corner issues.

    Yes, I can mention The Grumble to my framer, absolutely. I don't even think I'd have to let it slip that I am Montacute--surely he'd be interested in any post from Upstate SC and then it is pretty obvious. Actually, I'm thinking of printing some of the technical tips on perfecting v-grooves that I received and bringing them to him. Hopefully, I can do it in a polite way that does not offend.
  45. Montacute

    Montacute Grumbler

    Yes, HB, I will try to get a picture. I recently broke my good digital camera (sand, beach, don't ask) and need to see if lots of light and my camera phone will work.

    I had two v-grooves cut on this picture, and the inner one is what I consider perfect (both times), but the outer v-groove is always flawed to me on exactly opposite corners. Yes, you need to be within 12' to notice it though.
  46. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    Almost all framers would probably not be open to that idea. The reason being that part of the success of the v-groove depends on those mat blanks being cut perfectly square to begin with. The other is mistakes do happen, and if it did when cutting your supplied mats the second framer would be responsible for reordering those mats on his/her own dime.

    If the first framer really can not deliver an acceptable product, v-groove included, then he should refund the amount of both the mat & v-groove. Even if you take it to a second framer you probably will also incur a charge for taking it all apart as well as a fitting charge for putting it all back together. Ask the first framer if he might be able to sub this out to a supplier/friendly framer with a CMC.
  47. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    They are easier to cut but will still have the slight hook in the corner. An open v-groove won't show this as mch as a closed groove. The reason is that when 2 lines are parallel and butted up against one another you would notice more if it where slightly askew. Separate those 2 lines by 1/4 inch and you don't notice that one is 1/64 of an inch off.
  48. johnny

    johnny SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    If your framer is cutting the opening the V-groove should be cut on the same machine and really at the same time. Otherwise it's just not gunna be even.
  49. patty kay

    patty kay Grumbler

    Sometimes I'll cut a double mat, using the same color mat, to give the look of a v-groove, without the hassle. You only get 1/2 of the v-groove, but it does break up the color of the outer mat. You could have them do this twice, to achieve the look of a double v-groove.
  50. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    As long as your matcutter is square you can cut a v-groove into any mat. I'v cut then into readymades customers bring in, someone else here mentioned that they cut v-grooves into their mat samples. Surely they didn't buy one of every mat made and cut sample corners and v-grooves themselves.

    Montacute, to be cras my reluctance to cut a v-groove into someone elses mat has more to do with lost money than my ability. ;) I make money selling and cutting mats. If I only cut the mat I make less money. And if I cut a difficult mat, and mess it up are you going to pay me for the next mat or expect me to get the mat and cut ir for free? In which case I would be losing money taking your business.

    OK, either bite the bullet and have the first framer fix it once and for all, or go to a new framer and start from scratch.

    I would like to suggest a trick customers have used on me. Go to a new framer, ask for a double mat, with v-groove on a simple photo. No frame just ask them to cut it to fit into a 16 by 20 or smaller readymade. If you like the job they do then go in with the real order. If they messed it up, then check out a third framer till you find one you like.
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