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Question How do you calculate the cut size on a floater frame for floating a canvas print?

Discussion in 'The Grumble' started by echavez123, Jul 6, 2010.

  1. echavez123

    echavez123 MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Up until the last 3 floater frames for canvas, I struggled to figure out how to calculate the cut length for the floater frame. Lets say for example, the width of the floater moulding is 3/8" and I want a 1/4" space between the frame and the canvas, whose size is 18" x 36".

    My question is: what method or formula would you use to get the correct cut size for length and width?

    To me, the answer was not intiutive, but I finally figured out. However, I have to admit on previous attempts, I resorted to cutting the board longer, then cutting it down, a bit at a time, till I got the right gap -- this method doesnt work well. I also resorted to making a small test sample frame and using the measurements from that.

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  2. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    (3/8" + 1/4") X 2 = 1 1/4"

    Add 1 1/4" to each dimension to get the outside dimension of the length of each leg.

    Thus an 18 X 36 canvas would need a frame that has outside dimensions of 19 1/4 X 37 1/4".
  3. JWB9999999

    JWB9999999 SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    The prvious post explains how to do it if you are working from the dimensions of the outside of the frame. However, I normally work from the inside of the frame. This is what I do:

    The cut size should always be applied to the surface that will "contain" or hold the art. Hence the inside of the rabbet for regular frames, the inside of the outer wall for most metal frames, and the outside surface of stretcher bar. For a floater frame, it would simply be the inside surface of the frame where the art will rest.

    Since you want a 1/4" spacing all around between the frame and the art, you need to add that in (1/2" per side). So for your frame, I'd cut a 18 1/2" by 36 1/2" frame, measured from the inside wall of the floater frame.

    This way you don't have to worry about the width of the frame itself.
  4. Artrageous

    Artrageous PFG, Picture Framing God

    If a customer chooses to put a floater frame on something already stretched, I usually add at least 3/8 inch spacing.

    If the painting is out of square even the smallest amount, it will be prominent in that little amount of spacing.

    Using the inside edge does require you to site a line down to the measuring table or you could just draw the line in.
  5. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    Much easier to do the simply math and cut the outside dim. as Dave so simply explained, that way you can still use the scale on your saw or chopper.
  6. echavez123

    echavez123 MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Man, that was way too easy! Both methods work (cutting outside or cutting inside). How did you learn this? I never heard it in a class, so I figured out the same formula as Dave. The amount to add to each dimension is = 2(lip width + space desired). I use to worry about making the wrong cut, and then running short from my screw-up. I made a big mistake for an order using LJ floater moulding. That is when I had to figure this thing out and test it to prevent future screw-ups. Thanks for the confirmation.

    And now, back to the grind.

  7. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    I've done a lot of floaters and I like 3/8" to 7/16" space. There are a lot of things that they don't teach in a class. There are lots of hands-on practical experiences and good ideas on the Grumble, and it's free!
  8. nikfrz

    nikfrz SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I do like JWB, and measure from the inside.

    Wow, you sell floaters with a 1/4" space. Everyone around here wants it as close to the canvas as possible.
  9. Artrageous

    Artrageous PFG, Picture Framing God

    Any closer then 1/4 inch and they should go for a cap frame rather then a floater frame.

    I thought the purpose of the floater frame was to allow some visual space around the canvas.
  10. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    I agree. I've done lots of floater frames, many of them from Genuine Gold and Burl Co. and always with at least 3/8" and most of them raised to be nearly flush with the front of the frame.
  11. Baer Charlton

    Baer Charlton SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Ask the customer to help you measure the stretched canvas all four ways..


    When the measurements don't match up (top and bottom are 1/8" out, which means the diagonal will be 3/16+ out etc etc etc)

    Now you can sell them a real frame. :D
  12. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Nice tip learned here on the "G":

    Use 3/16" foam core board to space out the moulding during fitting.

    Excellent way to space it out without having to visually try to place the canvas in the frame while fitting.

  13. Creepshow

    Creepshow CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Would the outside dimension not vary depending on the width of the moulding itself?
  14. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God


    My formula takes that into consideration.

    (Width of moulding + space to canvas) X 2 = x

    Add x to the length and width of the stretched canvas to get the size of the outside dimension of the floater frame.

    Cut length moulding to outside dimensions or order chops by outside dimension size.
  15. echavez123

    echavez123 MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    There is something about the simplicity of a floater that customer like. It is usually the artists or art savy customers. If the canvas is really bowed, I will point that out and suggest another alternative. The LJ floaters are definitely the best.

  16. echavez123

    echavez123 MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Yes, and two pieces of 3/16" foam makes a snug 3/8" spacer for alignment. This is when you really notice the imperfection of the canvas stretcher board. This is a nice tip.

    BTW, I started this thread because I struggled with the cut-size issure with my first several floaters. I will bet there are others who will struggle with this (or am I the only one?). If they reference this thread, they will find your simple elegant solution. It works.

  17. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Yes, and you can tell that to MoMA (and many others) who frame some of their multimillion dollar originals in floaters. The framing alone of some of their pieces runs in the tens of thousands.

    Sometimes a floater is the best choice, not simply a "cheap" way out.
    MATTHEW HALE likes this.
  18. Puppiesonacid

    Puppiesonacid SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    yeah, do what baer says to do... Ive found when you listen to customers and what they want, you take the heat when you do it and it doesn't turn out right.

    i quit selling floater frames all together. don't like the look of them anyways.
  19. Creepshow

    Creepshow CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Dave, I totally missed the moulding width in the original post. My bad.

  20. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I think it is a bit blatant to write off floater frames altogether. I rarely use them myself and generally prefer a more conventional frame (whatever that is). However there are times when a floater frame makes good design sense depending on the artwork and where it will reside.

    Don't empty your bag of design elements quite that easily.
  21. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    You got that right Dave. Especially when all they really want is a gallery wrap to begin with. Then that float frame sale looks really, really good. ;)
  22. framah

    framah PFG, Picture Framing God

    No problem with floater frames but wish either they made them deeper or the artists worked on shallower stuff. I keep getting stuff in that is too deep for the floaters available.

    As for the measuring thing... forget measuring to the outside of the frame. The rest of the framing world measures the art and then adds the amount needed for the reveals.

    All you are doing by trying to include the size of the frame in your equation is adding one more place for your measuring to go wrong. KISS!... Keep it Simple Stupid!
    That's my motto.
    artfolio likes this.
  23. Baer Charlton

    Baer Charlton SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hmmmm How "many others" David? Your operative term here is MoMA. Meaning "Modern Art" (post WWII and the ideals of Bauhaus and anti-establishment and a complete lack of understanding of the Beau Arts... The best framed Jackson Pollack I ever saw was in Armand Hammer's collection framed by Pollack himself in a hot washed Regency II frame.)

    A lot of trashy art there in the Rijks, Louvre, Gilbeckian, and Prado..... they must not have much taste.... it was all in traditional frames. Including the three Warhols. . . but then, he was kind of conventional.

    Now the original poster for Grind House.... there's a possibility.... and I have used floaters on such pieces as a ColorPlaked poster for Titanic. :kaffeetrinker_2:
  24. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I still think it is simpler to work with the O.D.

    Easier to chop/saw the moulding to the O.D. than to visually try to
    cut the moulding to the inside corner of the raised join and also
    visually allow for the "reveal".

    That's a bit tough to do in my book compared to cutting to the O.D.

  25. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    The problem with that system on floaters is the choosen reveal. You have to measure in from the leading edge of the moulding to get to the sight size and then mark a line in order to use your scale and then you either are sighting down the thickness of the moulding or have had to take time to extend your marks. That all takes more time and I think that can lead to more mistakes.

    To each is own, but find something that works for you and do it all of the time. I for one think that Dave's way is KISS.
  26. pwalters

    pwalters SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Nothing wrong with a floater frame. In fact, the LJ ones stack very nicely with other mouldings so you can create some great designs. Roma has a few that stand out well on their own. Off the top of my head, using a floater doesn't usually translate into cheap, but that could just be my pricing.
  27. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I would think that you of all people would know that the frame should complement the art; so, no, you won't find floater frames in every museum.

    I guess you don't like "modern art". I don't much care for it either but I do like to sell what people want as long as I can make an honest living at it. I'm certainly not going to make any statements as to what makes any particular piece of "art" (by whatever you define that) as worthy of framing, or framing in any particular style.

    *BTW, MoMA's definition of "modern art" extends to many pieces from the 19th century - consider that one of the more well known and significant items in their permanent collection is Van Gogh's Starry Night, 1889. And then, MoMA opened in 1929; so I guess that while they were waiting for WWII to start they had to get something to put on the walls.
    MATTHEW HALE likes this.
  28. framah

    framah PFG, Picture Framing God

    I guess it also depends on the type of chopping system you are using.
    Not sure what you might be using that would make it hard to do.

    On my Pistorius, I can sight right down the inside edge of the float frame and match it accurately to the dimension I want on the ruler. No problem.
  29. Baer Charlton

    Baer Charlton SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    David, don't confuse "Modern" with "Contemporary".

    "Modern" Is considered all the way back to 1830 when there was the fugal break from the traditional "eras".

    "Contemporary" means "within our life times" or dating back to the last 100 years. But the forte of MoMA is post WWII.

    As for not liking? Hmm, that would explain my ownership of a Picasso drawing, Miro oil sketch, Tanaka acrylic, 3 Richardson oils, 2 L'Barez oils and an acrylic, a Lichtenstein sketch, and a Pollack poster. All are in "nicer" water guild or walnut frames. Except on of the Richardsons...... mmm gallery wrap as it was done in 1939.
  30. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I don't think I'm the one who is confused. Or maybe when you know everything it just makes sense.
  31. adkres

    adkres True Grumbler

    Nielson price list explained the method when the floaters first came out
  32. Pat Murphey

    Pat Murphey SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    This is an amazingly long thread for simple math. :D:D

    And, you don't even have to do math. Just put the 1/4" (or whatever) mark on your tape on one edge and look at the measurement 1/4" beyond the other edge, make sure it's square, and order that size (from LJ that's the default way to order).
  33. Baer Charlton

    Baer Charlton SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I try to keep things simple these days David. If I thought it would have moved the topic forward, I would have given the lecture about what is considered "Modern" and why. And what started the floater, and why. But then, most framers don't give a rip about what's accurate because there are to many manufacturers and instructors who know little to nothing also, and pound home things like "it only maters what the customer wants".

    Which is why kids think milk comes from a box that came from a store, my nephew didn't know he named his kid after a rock when he named him Malachi . . he just thought it was a book in the bible.... silly people poke fun at "global warming" in the middle of snow storms when it shuts down half of New England.... well, welcome to your "global cooling" now.

    And lets be honest here.... did you know the difference between Contemporary and Modern art? And when we are talking Contemporary; are we talking my 58 years or 37 years or my dads 94 years?

    And here we go.... you're in the moulding business; when was the Floater frame first invented, and when did it first become popular?

    Pat Murphy: Bite me... there is nothing simple about math. That was the same as saying questions are dumb.
    And yes... I am having a wonderful day, thank you for asking.
  34. framah

    framah PFG, Picture Framing God

    I dunno, Baer... if math is too hard for you, maybe we should be skeptical about your skills in describing the different periods of art. It involves math, also.
  35. Pat Murphey

    Pat Murphey SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Don't needle the exalted Baer! :p

    Baer, (if the misspelled Murphy referred to me) my point was that the question was asked and answered and that the math could be avoided entirely.
  36. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    Pat, you're talking about ordering a chop and allowing the vendor to do the final calculations for cutting. The OQ was how to factor for cutting themself. It is not the same thing, because of the variable - reveal. ;)
  37. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    It looks like this has become a referrendum on floater frames, so count me as an occasional user. I agree that when customers want the simplest presentation along with structural support for hanging, a floater frame exceeds a gallery wrap. I especially like the Neilsen floater frame series, because they are small and sturdy.

    In my shop, most floater frames are used with glazing and a decorative outer frame. The floater must be deeper than the painting, so the glazing sheet lays on its top edge (padded by Volara); the decorative frame's lip covers the floater's top edge and retains the glazing.

    The floater under the decorative frame not only provides the often-needed extra depth, and good structural support for glass or acrylic; but it also enables the edges of a painted canvas to show within the frame -- no part of the painted canvas needs to be covered. In fact, since the floater is screwed to the back of the stretchers, no framing materials need contact any part of the canvas.
  38. RParrish

    RParrish PFG, Picture Framing God

    I love floater* frames and I measure from the inside.

    *I would stipulate I don't care much for what most companies are putting out as their floater frames, but I love the stepped floaters from Xylo. They come raw and in a variety of depths unlike most of the other stuff out there.
  39. Pat Murphey

    Pat Murphey SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    The same technique using the tape measure and the sample looking at the same distance out on the opposite end of the tape to get outside dimension for cutting. On my chop saw, setting the cut from the "rabbet" is easy enough.
  40. echavez123

    echavez123 MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Paul, thank you for clarifiying. If you are ordering, there is no thinking required - just call in your measurements. In the original question was specifically targeted for the calculation for the person cutting the the moulding. There is more than one way to skin a cat (no offense to you cat lovers), and I was to hear about other methods. I also find it interesting how the subject veers to philosophical differences regarding the appropriateness of a floater frame and the MoMa caca ... I find it amusing.

    Grumblers, draw you swords and carry on!

  41. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I haven't done floater frames much so far, but for some reason got 2orders for it last week.
    The sides of the canvases are painted, illustrated I should say, so the only option is to go floater (or no frame at all, guess what I prefer ;))

    The outside method works for me, I still can't figure out how the inside method would work. Wouldn't you somehow have to subtract the lip then? I will do some more playing around (have enough for that).

    Although I'm not a big fan of floater frames, there is a market for it. Not showing it limits the choices. Wherever I can, I will recommend a 'normal' frame; sometimes that's not an option.
  42. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I have been joining floater frames by putting them face down in my corner vise with glued mitres. Drill and nail with brads.

    Whenever I've tried joining with a v-nailer the corner will not join well even if I have used the disk sander to true up the mitres.

    Other thoughts on joining floater frames?
  43. Artrageous

    Artrageous PFG, Picture Framing God

    Ylva, the 'inside' method does not take into account the ledge that the canvas sits on. You site (or draw with a pencil) the line from the inside edge of the vertical part of the floater, down to the bottom of the frame. This is where you measure from.
  44. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I was wondering if there was a kind of formula for that as well, but couldn't figure it out.
    Anyway, the outside dimension measurement seems easier to me.

    Haven't joined it just yet...anyone else having problems like Dave??
  45. Pat Murphey

    Pat Murphey SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Strap clamp!
    MATTHEW HALE likes this.
  46. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I used to do that, Pat, but it takes longer than just joining upside down in the vise.
  47. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I assume you are talking about "L" shaped floaters, as stepped floaters join pretty easily in with a conventional underpinner*.

    L-shaped floaters can be done in an underpinner* if you have a double top hold down.

    *One potential challenge in either case, depending on the design of your underpinner, is getting the hold down close enough to the outside of the joint because the profile is so thin. On the Inmes 5P this is the case. What we do on thin frames of any sort is either rotate the V-shaped hold down 180° so that it will catch, or use a triangular shaped piece of material that covers the whole corner and give the hold down a place to catch. We use Canvas Reinforced Plastic as it's strong and glue cleans off it pretty easily.
  48. joemillsaps

    joemillsaps Grumbler

    How do you cut from the inside wall of the lip? Our saw measures from the bottom edge of the rabbit on normal Frames. How?
  49. framah

    framah PFG, Picture Framing God

    The inside wall (vertical) of floater frame is the same thing as the inside wall of a regular frame. You sight down that inside edge (vertical) of the floater.... like someone posted long ago in this thread.

    The bottom flat (horizontal) that the art sits upon isn't THAT thick that you can't see the line of the wall (vertical) of the floater thru to the measuring lines on your chopper.

    It really isn't rocket surgery.

    Of course, i do need to ask you... what are you calling "the lip"?
    JWB9999999 and IFGL like this.
  50. IFGL

    IFGL SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Definitely a case of Brain science though!
    David Waldmann and framah like this.
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