Opinions Wanted Low volume equipment and methodology

jdk

Grumbler
Artist here; posting a few questions after searching through the valuable information already available.

I currently own zero equipment related to framing, but I have a commercial account set up with a manufacturer and the information I got from my rep was to buy a whole bunch of expensive equipment from Cassese. At my peak I hope to produce about a frame a week...maybe two (based on some of my preexisting sales info). I can't justify the purchase of big miter saws and even dropping 4 figures on an underpinner/v-nailer seems like a waste.

My most pressing question at this point relates to the manual 12" disc sanders that are available. I would think that you can only use half of the diameter (so 6" max), otherwise the grit will be pulling up on the finish, risking chipping. Is that correct? What's the best way to handle larger frame profiles? And I know ordering chop is an option, but I still want a way to address errant cuts should they arrive that way. I'm also not opposed to the motorized sanders; with a fine grit I'm not sure why there is such a reluctance to use them given their much lower cost.

Thanks!

Joe
 
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FramerCat

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I'm not an expert on disc sanders so I can't answer your actual question, but I wanted to say that whatever rep you spoke to is just trying to make some sales. If you want to buy equipment for the low volume that you are talking about, you should definitely look into buying used. There are shops going out of business left and right. There are plenty of great deals on great equipment out there.

Ed
 

snafu

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
I've been in business since 1981, I've never used a disc sander for making frames.

No more than one or two a week I would recommend calling a local frame shops.
I do work for several local shops that don't want to invest in the equipment.
when your volume increases buy some equipment.
 

jdk

Grumbler
No more than one or two a week I would recommend calling a local frame shops.
I've called a few and they are very expensive. It doesn't make sense for me to pay a retail price of $2k+ for a frame when the artwork costs me about half of that.
 

Joe B

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
For what you are doing I would consider that it qualifies as a low volume hobbyist even though you are a business. Take a look at Logan, that have a table top hand saw, a small hand sander, a single v nail underpinner and other equipment that will do what you want and with the volume you have expressed the Logan equipment will last you a long time. I started my business with the Logan equipment I just identified and with a little practice is works ok but if you were doing 10 times then I would recommend doing what FramerCat said, buy used. Oh, by the way, you can buy all the Logan equipment on eBay with minimal investment.
 

nikodeumus

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Joe B has a good point. I have purchased a Logan Dual Point Driver and it works just as well as the Fletcher driver at almost half the cost.
I use the Logan with the Flexi Points always in it, and the Fletcher with the standard points.
I haven't used their other equipment. It is certainly geared towards hobbyists / low production volume.

As FramerCat mentioned, buying used professional equipment is a good route. The owner of the shop I work at bought out a closing frame shop. We are still using all the same equipment over 15 years later and it was who knows how old before that. Professional equipment, even used, is better manufactured for constant use.
Also, buying from someone who has experience with the equipment can be invaluable.

What is your shop space like?
Do you have room to leave the equipment set up permanently?
I believe Logan equipment is aimed towards occasional use. Take it out, set it up, then put it away. This is time-consuming.
Professional equipment is best set up permanently. This means superior accuracy and precision.

I guess start with what you can afford, then as time goes on, invest in better equipment as you discover what needs improvement?
 

jdk

Grumbler
Thanks for the replies. I will look at the Logan stuff, but I already know how I'm going to tackle the joinery. It's the cutting I'm concerned about - specifically profiles wider than 6." If anyone has advice on truing up those large miters, I'm all ears :)
 

prospero

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Your rep gave you good advice, but why use finished moulding?

If you are an artist, you can paint pictures. If you can paint pictures, you can paint frames. 🙂

Using raw wood profiles gives you enormous scope. Any shape, any color. And.... making a frame and
then finishing it gives you individuality. You don't have to worry about a few minor gaps or defects as
these can be made good in the finishing process. Also, if the frame picks up the odd ding in transport
then you can fix it perfectly - same can't be said for finished factory-finished frames.

And don't think it's difficult. Takes longer, but the advantages are legion in your situation.

A decent chop saw, a miter vice and a few hand tools and you're just about set up. You will need a few
supplies for finishing - paints and brushes and lots of sandpaper. Not a great outlay.

Have a think........🤔
 

jdk

Grumbler
I'm not opposed to that in principle - and I do have the space and tools already - but from an ROI on my time (not to mention the prospect of sawdust in my shop) I make more money on the art than I would spending a day milling and finishing lumber. Plus it would be very difficult to replicate the trendy commercial finishes that my clients are after.
 

prospero

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Thanks for the replies. I will look at the Logan stuff, but I already know how I'm going to tackle the joinery. It's the cutting I'm concerned about - specifically profiles wider than 6." If anyone has advice on truing up those large miters, I'm all ears :)

..... No one (hardly) uses 6" wide profiles. The way to achieve frames in this width is to stack two or more sections
concentrically. Easy if you do hand-finished frames. You can blend them all together. 😉 I do it all the time.
A single 6" profile is not as stable as several profiles making up the same width. And a LOT cheaper.

**"Trendy" finishes are often the easiest.
 

jdk

Grumbler
My work is better measured in feet than inches, with my largest being around 8 feet wide. Building up with a bunch of little profiles doesn't sit well with me - I like the bold look that comes with the beefy profiles. The cross section of the nice frames (like the roma elite) looks to be pretty well assembled...opposing laminated grain structures, etc.
 

prospero

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
My work is better measured in feet than inches, with my largest being around 8 feet wide. Building up with a bunch of little profiles doesn't sit well with me - I like the bold look that comes with the beefy profiles. The cross section of the nice frames (like the roma elite) looks to be pretty well assembled...opposing laminated grain structures, etc.
Granted......But knock the frame on something and mark it and it's essentially junk.

Make a miscalculation measuring an 9ft rail and it's a big loss. Frames of that scale consume a lot of moulding
in the making.
 
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framah

PFG, Picture Framing God
"I've called a few and they are very expensive. It doesn't make sense for me to pay a retail price of $2k+ for a frame when the artwork costs me about half of that."

I'd like to know what you mean by "when the artwork costs me about half that."

Are you talking about materials and time or what?

The cost of a frame has nothingto do with the cost of materials of the art.

If your art is almost 8' long , then $2,000 for a frame for that is quite reasonable.

I'm wondering how much you charge for the art that the aditional cost of a nicely finished frame can't be added on and not scare the buyer away.


My personal opinion is that you let a framer do the large frames and you concentrate on making smaller ones.. at least to start until you get the right equipment to cut and join large frames.

Those ultra wide frames can be a real PIA to work with.
 

jdk

Grumbler
The cost of a frame has nothing to do with the cost of materials of the art.

If your art is almost 8' long , then $2,000 for a frame for that is quite reasonable.

I'm wondering how much you charge for the art that the aditional cost of a nicely finished frame can't be added on and not scare the buyer away.
Fair points. For me, it's difficult to parse cost calculations.

The $2k price point was for a roughly 2x6 foot frame. The art that fills it costs me about a thousand in materials (not time). Maybe a little more.

I don't want to be in a situation where I'm selling a piece for, say $5k and almost half of that is a retail penalty I pay for the frame. I need to bring it in house to make it a viable offering that doesn't throw my pricing out of whack.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Bob the Crumudgeon time
I've called a few and they are very expensive.
sorry, but that's like wanting to install a new sink, calling a plumber and find they are very expensive. Then, going on a plumber's website and getting advice on how to not pay a plumber what he charges

The cynical side says go buy 20ft of 6in mldg, cut a few 72in legs, join them and rethink what a professional framer charges? A 6in disc sander will be the least of his problems

Now, two suggestions
develop a relationship with local framer. the ongoing advice and quality workmanship is invaluable
and/or
most every distributor will sell chop and join. Use them for a wholesale price provider

just like a professional artist that bristles at the price of art being questioned since it's only some canvas and paint, professional framing may look easy but there is a skill and creativity value that might be overlooked here

just one opinion
 

jdk

Grumbler
To be clear, I only asked about the best way to true up large miters. It's not exactly like I'm asking someone to show me how to put my local framers out of business.
 

FramerCat

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
To be clear, I only asked about the best way to true up large miters. It's not exactly like I'm asking someone to show me how to put my local framers out of business.
You might have a hard time getting a good answer here. Like Snafu said, I don't use a disc sander to true up the miters on larger moulding. I use the appropriate chopping equipment and techniques so that they don't have to be sanded. That might be why your rep suggested the "expensive equipment." Being professional framers we all work with professional level equipment so we probably can't give you an answer as to how to work around using said equipment. We use it because it works. Now that we know a little more about what you are trying to do, we can answer a little more accurately. And now I'm siding with your rep. You need the expensive saw or to raise your prices so that you can afford a framer that has the expensive saw. Sell that example painting for $7k instead of $5k.

Ed
 

tedh

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I've been framing for 25 years, and know that if I had to chop and join a 6-inch frame, I would immediately order join from the supplier. I know when I'm in over my head.
 

Terry Hart cpf

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I've been framing for 25 years, and know that if I had to chop and join a 6-inch frame, I would immediately order join from the supplier. I know when I'm in over my head.
Yes, I'm curious how you're going to join a 6" profile with no specialized equipment. That won't fit into a standard vice. Even in my Cassese I think I'd have to dismantel the clamp and hold the corner together by hand to wedge it. A three or four hand job. Maybe a buiscit joiner? I don't know. I don't have one of those. And as you've guessed, you're probably not going to get far trying to true a 6" moulding with standard equipment. Be ready to get some real equipment if you want to work on those scales & be ready to invest some real time learning skills (& money on botched jobs) . Shopping around for used will save you some money. Trying to do the kind of work you want to on the cheap will cost you in the long run.
 

Larry Peterson

PFG, Picture Framing God
I've been framing for 25 years, and know that if I had to chop and join a 6-inch frame, I would immediately order join from the supplier. I know when I'm in over my head.
Ditto. Most of us don't have saws that can cut a moulding that wide.
 

jdk

Grumbler
I think first I'm going to try routering a mortise in the back and joining it with a 90 degree fingerjoint spline in each corner. Clamping it won't be a problem...I have tons of jigs and clamps that I can use. We'll see how it goes.
 

Jim Miller

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Building up with a bunch of little profiles doesn't sit well with me - I like the bold look that comes with the beefy profiles.
If I were you i would sit differently...In my limited experience, building stacked frames provides more versatility, lower cost, you can achieve any degree of "beefy" that you wish, and you would not need any of the heavy-duty cutting/joining equipment required to work with 6" profiles.

Before you reject the concept of stacking, at least give it a try.
 

Lafontsee

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Ditto. Most of us don't have saws that can cut a moulding that wide.
I our shop we would order this as a chop for sure. Aside from the trouble cutting and joining something so wide, you'll be better off having your supplier work around flaws in the stock for you to make a frame as large as you want. The last thing you want with frames this big is an allowance right in the middle of a 10' stick.

James
 

Ylva

Forum Support Team
Staff member
Anything over 4 inch I definitely order as chop.

You might misunderstand the look of stacked frames. When you do it right, you can’t even tell that it is stacked.
Unless you want a completely flat profile.
I don’t know what look you are going for, what your vision is.

I stack frames all the time. Sometimes a customer falls in love with a certain fame but feels it is too narrow for the art. Stacking is a great option.

I have a miter sander. It is still in the box.
My saws and my underpinner are well set up, so there is no need to sand as I have a true miter already.

The wider the moulding, the more impossible it becomes though.

What you are saying about your art, price wise, is the same for framing. It is a little more than just four sticks of wood.
 

shayla

WOW Framer
To be clear, I only asked about the best way to true up large miters. It's not exactly like I'm asking someone to show me how to put my local framers out of business.
And to be even clearer, according to the Grumble's main forum blurb, you are more than welcome here.

"The Original BBS for picture framers, open to all with questions and interest in the picture framing industry. Retail, Homebased, Newbies, Suppliers, just interested in learning, everyone's welcome. Lets us know what you like or problems that you are having in picture framing today. You're not alone any more, come join the fun." :beer:
 

prospero

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I did a six-inch wide frame about this time last year. On a 7' by 5.5' canvas.

I started with a 3" scoop profile. Inside that was a 1" reed. I added a 1.5" swan-neck moulding to the outside
and extended it rearwards with a square profile. Inside all that was a 1.5" liner.
I would never dream or constructing it from a single piece. These big frames get massively heavy and unwieldy.
Simply underpinning the corners won't do as the sheer bulk of the thing acts against it. I used biscuits in the corners
and cross-miter pieces to reinforce the joins. It's an engineering job.

All that was finished after I made the bare frame.

xmas2018_6.jpg

xmas2018_18.jpg

This is my (satisfied) customer who had to bring his horse transporter to take it away. 😁
 

JFeig

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I agree with the others that you have to increase your prices to accommodate the price of an appropriate picture frame. An interesting factoid is that over the centuries, the cost of an appropriate picture frame that will enhance the look if the finished "total work of art" has been more that the actual work of art. Nothing looks worse from a presentation standpoint than a substandard picture frame.
When I say cost, I am referring to the retail price of the art and the retail price of the picture frame.
 
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jdk

Grumbler
I would never dream or constructing it from a single piece. These big frames get massively heavy and unwieldy.
Simply underpinning the corners won't do as the sheer bulk of the thing acts against it. I used biscuits in the corners
and cross-miter pieces to reinforce the joins. It's an engineering job.
It looks great! I'm happy to see that the conventional underpinning joinery method goes out the window at this scale. After seeing the way you solved this particular problem I have no doubt that I will be able to find my own solution.
 

wpfay

Forum Support Team Angry_Badger
Staff member
A solid 6" wide wooden frame will probably experience miter joint failure quicker than 3-2" wide mouldings stacked. Small changes in environment can cause the wood to contract and expand and that happens across the grain which has a direct effect on the miter. This is why large frames are traditionally made from layering smaller ones to achieve the desired width.
A good resource for getting the various profiles to build frames like Peter (Prospero) does is Foster Planing Mill in California.
 

artfolio

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Just a thought:

In my "Economics 1" course a few years ago we discussed a thing called "opportunity cost" which is the reason a $200 an hour lawyer hires a $50 an hour receptionist/secretary to answer 'phones and do paperwork for him.

Maybe creating art would be a better use of your time?
 

jdk

Grumbler
Just a thought:

In my "Economics 1" course a few years ago we discussed a thing called "opportunity cost" which is the reason a $200 an hour lawyer hires a $50 an hour receptionist/secretary to answer 'phones and do paperwork for him.

Maybe creating art would be a better use of your time?
My law degree sitting on the floor gathering dust in my closet finds this funny, no doubt. Some things we do for more than just the money.
 

nikodeumus

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
A solid 6" wide wooden frame will probably experience miter joint failure quicker than 3-2" wide mouldings stacked. Small changes in environment can cause the wood to contract and expand and that happens across the grain which has a direct effect on the miter. This is why large frames are traditionally made from layering smaller ones to achieve the desired width.
A good resource for getting the various profiles to build frames like Peter (Prospero) does is Foster Planing Mill in California.
WOW! Take a look at their photo gallery to look at the equipment they use.

Good Lord what the fridge does this thingy do??!?!o_O

Pictures-for-Website-039.jpg

It looks like it came out of a WWII German U-boat!
 

prospero

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I saw something on TV once where they were commenting on some enormous portraits in a big
stately home. These things were maybe 12ft x 8ft and had the typical ornate gilded frames.
The frames were apparently cast from some species of concrete. (?)
Anyhow, they had uncovered the original 200+ year old bills for the paintings in the family archives
and the frames cost twice what the paintings did. 😦
 

prospero

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
This was a mock-up of an old frame I was asked to replicate. It's about 5"x4".
Imagine trying to mill that from a single piece. Very few framers would have the equipment to cut it.
But with a bit of imagination and a table saw I was able to make the profile from existing smaller
mouldings plus a bit of PAR timber. I never got to make a complete frame but it was an interesting exercise. 🙂giantframe002.jpggiantframe001_2.jpg
 

jdk

Grumbler
I saw something on TV once where they were commenting on some enormous portraits in a big
stately home. These things were maybe 12ft x 8ft and had the typical ornate gilded frames.
The frames were apparently cast from some species of concrete. (?)
Anyhow, they had uncovered the original 200+ year old bills for the paintings in the family archives
and the frames cost twice what the paintings did. 😦
That I totally understand, especially if they were gilded. I can't imagine making something that size without being able to buy things off the shelf. And even now, I've seen other major gallery quotes where the frame to art ratio is over 1:1.

This was a mock-up of an old frame I was asked to replicate. It's about 5"x4".
Imagine trying to mill that from a single piece. Very few framers would have the equipment to cut it.
But with a bit of imagination and a table saw I was able to make the profile from existing smaller
mouldings plus a bit of PAR timber. I never got to make a complete frame but it was an interesting exercise. 🙂
That's pretty serious. Although if you had a way to clamp and glue all of those profiles properly, it would very strong!
 

David Hewitt

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Great job Prospero, I count 5 frames with modifications and several fillers.
Tell us about your finishing procedures.
 

artfolio

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
One thing I find encouraging about this thread is that there are obviously still some artists out there who regard the frame as an important part of the product hey are producing. Here in Australia too many "artists" want to do everything on the cheap and opt for a bit of beading tacked around the canvas or just an unframed stretched canvas. the excuse is usually that "I don't want the frame to "take away from" (?) the art but, of course, that is just code for "I don't want to spend money on having this framed properly".
 

jdk

Grumbler
One thing I find encouraging about this thread is that there are obviously still some artists out there who regard the frame as an important part of the product hey are producing. Here in Australia too many "artists" want to do everything on the cheap and opt for a bit of beading tacked around the canvas or just an unframed stretched canvas. the excuse is usually that "I don't want the frame to "take away from" (?) the art but, of course, that is just code for "I don't want to spend money on having this framed properly".
The difference between a framed and unframed piece is night and day. Many artists don't understand the inherent value because they have never looked at them side by side. It's a little bit like flying first class...you really only realize how much better it is once you've tried it.
 

nikodeumus

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
One thing I find encouraging about this thread is that there are obviously still some artists out there who regard the frame as an important part of the product hey are producing. Here in Australia too many "artists" want to do everything on the cheap and opt for a bit of beading tacked around the canvas or just an unframed stretched canvas. the excuse is usually that "I don't want the frame to "take away from" (?) the art but, of course, that is just code for "I don't want to spend money on having this framed properly".
"I don't want to spend much....BUT....can you custom frame this for me....BUT...don't "take away" from my artwork!"
WHAATT?!?!? :icon45: Grrrr...:mad:

Good for you JDK for being sensible 👍 Please share with us what your finished product looks like.
 

neilframer

PFG, Picture Framing God
We have this quote from Frank Zappa prominently displayed on our wall in the design area with the picture of Frank Zappa framed before the quote.
People love this display..:cool:
Screen Shot 2020-01-24 at 8.39.47 PM.png
 

prospero

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Great job Prospero, I count 5 frames with modifications and several fillers.
Tell us about your finishing procedures.

Actually, there are two main ones plus the hockey sticks. The channel near the front is the back of
the moulding at the back. 😁

When it's all assembled I gave it a good coat of decorator's filler, which fills the pores and 'grouts' all the
gaps and gives it the unified look. Then a couple of coats of high-build primer. I use the thick white emulsion that
is intended to cover minor cracks in walls and ceilings. When that's all smoothed, a coat of Red Oxide artist's acryilc
followed by bronze powder bound in varnish. Bit of toning on top of that with a touch of rottenstone.

You would use proper gesso if you were water-gilding, but I can't be bothered. 🤨
 

prospero

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
One thing I find encouraging about this thread is that there are obviously still some artists out there who regard the frame as an important part of the product hey are producing. Here in Australia too many "artists" want to do everything on the cheap and opt for a bit of beading tacked around the canvas or just an unframed stretched canvas. the excuse is usually that "I don't want the frame to "take away from" (?) the art but, of course, that is just code for "I don't want to spend money on having this framed properly".
Not only in Australia. 😆 I get many (budding) artists who are quite good and do saleable work. But they lack the confidence to
charge appropriately. They sell at local exhibitions and such venues and the most frequent comment I get is: "People
won't pay more than £xx". Professional artists will recognise the importance of a frame and factor it into the price.
It has to be said that many 'artists' (present company excepted) do tend to want Champagne frames at Coca-Cola prices.
They also have a habit of making things difficult for the poor framer and resent being guided.
Odd sized art. Wavy watercolours that are tricky to mat. Paintings that they want to see every part of and don't want
the frame to cover the edges. Enormous rolled-up pastels on flimsy paper.....
You name it, I had it. 🤣
 

nikodeumus

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Not only in Australia. 😆 I get many (budding) artists who are quite good and do saleable work. But they lack the confidence to
charge appropriately. They sell at local exhibitions and such venues and the most frequent comment I get is: "People
won't pay more than £xx". Professional artists will recognise the importance of a frame and factor it into the price.
It has to be said that many 'artists' (present company excepted) do tend to want Champagne frames at Coca-Cola prices.
They also have a habit of making things difficult for the poor framer and resent being guided.
Odd sized art. Wavy watercolours that are tricky to mat. Paintings that they want to see every part of and don't want
the frame to cover the edges. Enormous rolled-up pastels on flimsy paper.....
You name it, I had it. 🤣
I've often wondered why the "art of framing" isn't studied more by artists.
Has anyone here gone to art school? Is that a subject that is covered in formal art teaching?
I can see how someone who is self-taught might not stumble across the subject on their own I suppose.
 

jdk

Grumbler
I can't imagine that it is. Also unduly neglected is the study of light. We start with the artwork - and the frame gives us that visual boundary to elevate it - but light is what you actually see. I cringe when I see poorly lit artwork the same way you all probably do when you see bad framing jobs.
 

tedh

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Three years in art school in the ‘60s, and no mention of the frame.
 

FramerCat

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I went to art school too, in the '90s. No, they did not mention framing except that "paintings must be framed for this show." A lot of what was taught, however, did help with learning the design skill needed for picture framing along with related skills like canvas stretching and a little about quality and durability of materials.

Ed
 

wpfay

Forum Support Team Angry_Badger
Staff member
BA in Art 1975, not one class touched on the frame except for printmaking when we had to frame a piece for a class exhibit. We had a choice of sectional metal (Nielsen 11 profile).
The late 50's through the mid 70's were not good years for framing history unless you were a minimalist.
There was very little in the offering of art history classes in secondary education. It was touched on in a Contemporary History class in my senior year of high school, but only in the context of the post WWII activist art movements alignment with politics.
 
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