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Chopper or mitre saw, Manual or compressed air underpinner

Discussion in 'The Grumble' started by Rick, Aug 9, 2018.

  1. Rick

    Rick Grumbler

    HI All,

    So I am a photographer getting into framing and want to know your opinion about purchasing a chopper or a miter saw. I will be trying to buy used to save some $ and also wold be doing just a few frames a day at best.

    I do know the default advantages of a mitre saw as to be able to do more moldings and metal moldings but want to know your opinion as which route to go. U200 and like models are what I am looking for

    On the same token, based on my production numbers, a few frames a day at best, should I bite the bullet and go with compressed air models or I can get by with manual models.

    Based on who I asked these questions I get various responses, There are framers who only have manual units and swear by them but when I ask the suppliers they almost always try to steer me away from manual unit
    and sell me the next model up, mind you I am not doing production...

    Having all that said I do want to buy some equipment that will let me do framing with ease, I am a very technical person and can figure out almost everything when it comes to mechanical issues and can learn very quickly.

    Your input is greatly appreciated.
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    MATTHEW HALE CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I'd get a chop saw if you have space where you can make noise and sawdust, a chopper if you don't. We have both in the shop but the chopper really only gets used for fillets. If you have the money to spend, get a pneumatic underpinner. It's worth it. We are by no means a high volume production environment but there are still days when I cut and join 20 frames or more. Our manual mitre saw handles the job with no issues, but I feel like a manual underpinner would really slow things down.
  3. Rick

    Rick Grumbler

    what is a manual mitre saw ?

    on this note, can I get by buying a Dewalt saw from home depot and getting a proper blade for it, (90 + teeth) ? I have seen numerous youtube videos with people doing this with MINIMAL equipment, yes I know the more I spend the easier and faster the process can get. Here is a few examples.

    Check this guy out, he is my hero

    Then there is this guy with 200 other like him
    prospero likes this.
  4. Rick

    Rick Grumbler

    and then there is this one:
    prospero likes this.
  5. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Chopper v. Saw

    It depends a lot on the size of mouldings you are likely to be using. A Morso will go though <2" mouldings with
    ease and speed. When you get to 3" or more it gets a bit long winded as you have to take 5-6 'bites'. Another factor
    is the shape and structure of the mouldings. Ones with undercut backs tend to chip = lots of touching up. This is especially
    true nowadays as the quality of the base wood has declined noticeably in recent years. Some cheap mouldings have a rock-hard
    coating which rapidly dull the blades. Some moulding are just not chopper-friendly. A saw on the other hand will cope with just
    about anything.

    A chopper is quiet (relatively). Doesn't take a lot space. Fairly portable. Reasonably clean: it makes shavings not dust.

    A saw is noisy. Dusty: A good extraction system is called for. Ideally needs to be well away from where you do mounting an 'clean' work.
    A single miter saw needs to be a good quality build with a good blade. Even then it would need a bit of tweaking to get accurate angles.
    One drawback is having to swing the head on every rail you cut. This disturbs the angle and accelerates wear.
    The big double-blade saws are great but are expensive and VERY heavy.

    I concocted a saw setup with two saws fixed to a bench + home-grown measuring system.
    Having two means I can cut both ends without any head swinging which speeds things up considerably. Also I can fine-tune the angle
    on one saw to achieve perfect corners. Having said that, I must add that I use 99% plain wood nowadays so any small glitches can be
    made good as I finish the frames after joining. This rig could be improved, but as is it does what I need. And it cost under 500 GBP which
    is considerably less than even a basic saw meant for picture framing.

  6. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Underpinners? Well you are probably asking the wrong fella. I've used a very basic manual pinner for over 30 years
    and never had a pneumatic one. I can't really see an advantage. (apart from it making a cool psssst-clunk sound like
    the doors on Star Trek). I would probably see the light if I ever got one. :D
    David Waldmann likes this.
  7. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God

    Better yet, tell us about your budget. What can you spend? Knowing that, I can steer you to a very good approach. And don't forget that the used tool market is alive and well, what with retirements, bankruptcies and general closures in the sector.
  8. Rick

    Rick Grumbler

    Thank you tedh, I am trying to stay around 5K, I am well aware of the used market but being in the west coast I do not have many options and I generally do not want to deal with dealers. I have purchased a Dewalt table-top table saw as well as a Dewalt miter saw at last Christmas when they were on sale and started pounding the youtube for ideas. The three videos I have posted are the ones that suit me as far as a saw is concerned. Please take a look at this one and tell me what you think about his 90 degree system which can be made easily from home depot aluminum bars and such, utilizing only one saw with perfect 90 degree angles. as a side note I have to confess, I have a thing or two for DIY projects and am not Cheap. That is why I love to make a system for myself as a DIY.

    I have found this VN2 unit near by and the owner wants 700 bananas for it, the price is right but it has a small leak that deterred me from buying it, yet still available, your thought please. image is attached.

    Many Thanks

    Attached Files:

  9. dpframing

    dpframing CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Buy it- the leak can be found out and you can replace the part. A pneumatic v-nailer is a must. Get a good 10"
    chop saw with a 100-tooth blade and ADJUST it until you're making true miter cuts.
  10. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God

    $5K in today's market should get you a used Morso chopper, two new Dewalts with 80-tooth blades, a used pneumatic V-nailer and a new compressor. If you can, get a pneumatic Morso. I bought a used one 25 years ago, and it is still operating perfectly. Think about preserving your knees. And twenty years ago I paid $5K Cdn just for a good v-nailer.

    You will want a chopper for those flat, shiny profiles that a saw can't do as well as knives. A chopper is sometimes also better on plastics. Your DIY abilities will come in handy in building the infeed and outfeed tables, and the related woodwork for the v-nailer support arms.

    When shopping for the Dewalts, go to the hand tool section, borrow a 45 degree square, and check the trueness of the saw. Both the 45 degree cut, and the 90 degree vertical of the blade.

    Lee Valley sells adhesive-backed tapes if you want to set up a measuring system. I did this for the metals, and found that other system on the Grumble for wood.

    Finally, think about a third setup just for metals. I did that at the start, and it really makes life easier. No changing blades. But you will need more space. Take the time to design your shop layout to accommodate all this stuff. You'll need quite a bit of room.
    Joe B likes this.
  11. alacrity8

    alacrity8 MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    When I first opened, I was using a crosscut sled on a tablesaw, with two 45 degree tracks for cutting all of my frames.
    Changing blades for aluminum.
    When I got my first Pistorious running, the sled was just for metal.
    Now I use it only for particularly large frames that won't fit in my 12" Pistorious.

    I was taken aback by the way the guy in the first video pounded his 45 degree cut sticks on end. Please don't do that.
  12. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    Ha, yes!
    Not to mention the completely exposed saw blade with NO safeguards at all and his fingers an inch from the blade....:eek:
    It's OK though, when he cuts his fingers off, they just plug in another guy.:oops:
    I'm sure that the corners that get banged together in seconds look really good....:rolleyes:
    prospero likes this.
  13. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Yes. The unguarded blade made me cringe a bit. Very coarse-toothed blade as well.
    The moulding looked like plastic.
    All the same it's a very ingenious rig.

    The pinner was manual. :D

    Another thing I noticed was when he was joining the stacked combination. He appeared to be firing though the
    width of the inner moulding - maybe 2"+. o_O How the heck he doesn't get a nail coming out the side/back now and then is a wonder.
    I do a lot of that but I always toenail and use 3/4" pins in a predrilled hole. Hammer and center punch. Often thought of using a nail-gun.
  14. Rick

    Rick Grumbler

    Yeah I knew I was gona get chewed up for the blade and stuff but the main point to the video was the way he used ONLY one saw and made it work.

    So here is the update so far, I stopped at home depot last night and got this blade


    for my Dewalt 713 that will only handle wood moldings and I am gonna need another blade for my metal. Or is there such a blade that will do both ? Your recomendation on a blade for metal please ? Here are 3 available from Home Depot.


    I am looking to purchase a used, functional but in need of some TLC Cassese 299M for 1K from this wholesaler that I have done some biz with and feel comfortable with. He demoed the unit for me and it works but as I mentioned it just needs some TLC like cleaning and greasing the moving parts etc. One thing I did notice on this unit was that the holding arm was coming down slooower that usual, I assume some piston or regulator need some production run thru, oiled and/or adjusted ? Or am I looking to end of life situation. He bought the entire frame shop that included this unit, cheeps and is willing to part with it for 1K, your thoughts plesae.

    Many Thanks
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
  15. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God

    You need an 80-tooth non-ferrous blade for aluminum. I wouldn't buy any blades from Home Depot. Buy from the guys who advertise on the Grumble. They know framing.
    neilframer likes this.
  16. Rick

    Rick Grumbler

    I am quite new to the grumble and not very familiar with all sections, can you please provide a link to the advertisers in here?
  17. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    These guys are the best for blades and they are on the Grumble.
    We send all of our blades to them for sharpening and checking.
    They are in St. Louis, we are in Phoenix, but we send all of our blades to them.
    Their blade prices for new blades are very reasonable.
    Watch the video of how they sharpen.

    Home Depot blades are not really meant for cutting picture frame moulding.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2018
    tedh likes this.
  18. Larry Peterson

    Larry Peterson PFG, Picture Framing God

    Ditto that. Also a thin kerf blade like the one you bought is not recommended. It will flex too much on hardwood and give poor miters.

    Ditto also on Quinn. All my blades are from Quinn and worth every penny.
    samcrimm and neilframer like this.
  19. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God

    And keep them sharp. The Number One Rule For A Long And Prosperous Business is:

    "Happiness is a newly-sharpened blade"
  20. Rick

    Rick Grumbler

    Home depot blade going back tonight and initiating a call on Monday to Quimnsaw, done and done. Thank you.

    Next step is finding a Fletcher material cutter...
  21. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    There are lots of great people with many years of experience here and we try to pass on what we know.
    I have many decades of framing experience.
    I manage a very high volume shop in Phoenix and we have 100% 5-star reviews on Yelp, Facebook and Google.

    I still frame and install full time.
    Any time you have questions, feel free to ask on the Grumble and the info is free.;)
  22. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    That's quite a cute idea and I wish I'd thought of it. :D

    You don't have to swing the head, and the fences can have the angles fine-tuned for perfect corners.

    It would be good to have the saw in a corner location. You would need a 10ft run-in/out each side. You could even
    employ a sliding saw for really wide stuff, although in my philosophy the less moving parts the more consistently accurate.
    I would have much longer fences. That sort of rig needs to be in a permanent position.
    There are drawbacks: You would have to have the rails cut to length before you mitered them. Slightly irksome.
  23. Kerry Pope

    Kerry Pope Grumbler in Training

    I have sold hundreds of frame shops equipment over the years and have come to the conclusion that you only need 4 basic equipment pieces to do up to 400,000.00 annually.
    1 . a pistorius double miter saw 1000-2500 range with quinn saw blades for wood and poly, and a compressor and dust vacuum
    2 . a AMP mitre mite or cassese v nailer 800-1600 range
    3, a fletcher straight line mat cutter 400-600
    4. a seal 500t mechanical press or vacuseal 3646 mhs 500-1500
    I have these and more available if you need it...

    all good joints start with a good cut, and the other equipment is virtually maintenance free
  24. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God

    I'd add a wall-mounted glass cutter.
  25. Randi Case

    Randi Case Grumbler in Training

    Rick - I'm in southern NV. Selling a used Morso in really good condition, with the extension table and 3 sets of blades. Set on machine used just a couple times after sharpening. Other 2 sets also professionally sharpened Tech Mark & never used. I have more pics if you'd like to see them. IMG_6299.JPG IMG_6300.JPG
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