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Preferred Method of Joining

Stephen Enggass

True Grumbler
Hi all. Newbie here. What do you all recommend as a joinery method Quality but just starting out. I tried a Logan Studio Joiner but was not impressed. My goal is to begin a business on a couple years. I’m thinking of getting a Rockwell Miter/Frame Clamp and then adding v-nails manually. What about pneumatic v-nailers?
All input welcome. Thanks. Steve
 
888

tedh

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
We need more information.

What's your budget? What's your expected volume? Are you following the length/chop discussion in another thread? The length/chop discussion has been going on for years in many threads on The G.
 

Stephen Enggass

True Grumbler
Money isn’t the issue as much as keeping it simple with decent quality. Mass production or volume isn't an issue yet either. Quality is most important at this juncture. Tight, clean, strong corners. The cutting is important I know. Do they make pneumatic vnailers of decent quality? What models/brands if so? Thanks.
 

prospero

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Pleased to see you made it. :cool:

A lot depends on how many frames you make and the nature of the moulding.

Underpinners are great, but you don't really need a pneumatic machine if you do a relatively small volume.
Manual ones do the same thing. I've been using one for 35 years.
Bells'n'Whistles machines with lateral clamps/pre-programmed wedge positions/etc are great for more intensive operations
but knocking together smaller quantities can just as well be accomplished with a manual. Plus the fact that the simpler the machine
the less to go wrong and lower maintenance. That's my take on it anyway.

Buy a professional quality machine (used or new) and it will serve you well. Gadgets like the Logan are aimed at hobby framers and
they work up to a point but aren't really up to the job. Save yourself pain and heartache and get a decent rig.

It should be noted the V-Nails are not the main strength of the joint. They serve only to hold the joint tight so the GLUE can form a
strong bond and continue to protect the integrity of the join and prevent the frame coming apart if the glue should fail.
 

shayla

WOW Framer
We mostly use 1) Master Clamps and a v-nail underpinne or 2) a Hoffman jointer. Hoffman routed frames are joined with a MacGuyver'd arbor press, to which Hubby has attached a foot drive.
 

munnframeworks

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
We always Underpin to line up corners, and then we use bessler clamps to clamp from both sides to close joints.
 

shayla

WOW Framer
It's post #37 in this thread. He says it's not something an employee could legally use, but as the owner, he can. Soon after buying the jointer, he bought the arbor press to replace hammering. Did this when he got tired of holding the frame legs with his hands and operating the press with his chin. I should take a new photo, as this was four years ago. Now, there's new table, with a sliding track for the press.

http://thegrumble.com/index.php?threads/joining-table-remake.76277/#post-982039
 

Stephen Enggass

True Grumbler
What is a good source for used under pinners? Recommended brands? Looking for foot operated... I want something better than the Logan hobby models - a step up.
 

shayla

WOW Framer

tedh

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Ebay, Craigslist, and any other source you can name. Find one in Canada and you have that big dollar advantage. Find it before mid-September and I'll bring it down on my usual Maine visit.
 

Joe B

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Isn’t clamping usually done before pinning?
For me yes, If I have to clamp, which is often, I will clamp, let the glue set-up (about 15-20 minutes) and then underpin the corners. I do not use the forward clamp on the underpinner because you will break the bond and re-open the mitre. I only use the downward (top clamp) clamp to keep the moulding from lifting when pinning . I have never in the many years I have been doing it this way, have the moulding slide or mis-align.
 

prospero

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
There is a method I use for large frames using a 3" plain wood scoop.....

I cut a biscuit slot in the corners - toward the inner edge to leave a gap to underpin.
Then I glue all four corners, insert biscuits and locate all the joints. The biscuits are useful
in that they permit lateral movement to align to corners, but hold the joints level - provided
you have cut the slots accurately. Then I throw a webbing strap around the whole thing and cinch
it up, checking the corner alignment as I tighten the strap. In this state the whole frame is rigid and I
can transfer it to the underpinner without disturbing the joints. Put a couple of v-nails toward the back edge.
The pins probably aren't strictly necessary, but I do it anyway.
After that I screw 3" steel 'L' plates in the back near to the inside. I give the plates a bang with a ball-headed
hammer to bend them a little so when they are screwed in they pull the faces of the joint together rather than
pull them apart. Then leave the strap on until the glue dries (overnight?) The frames are mostly about 4' x 3' and
this method helps a lot if you are working on your own. The moulding has a groove along to back which is convenient
for the strap to fit in so it can't slip.
The resultant join is VERY strong. They are for a customer who takes the frames (+pictures) all over the country to
shows. In and out of his car and so forth. They have to be tough. :D The only time a corner cracked was when a
freak windstorm blew down the show tent and sent a frame skittering across a field. Even then it was a hairline crack
and I repaired it with ease. :cool: I've tried breaking these joints by hand and even with my enormous strength it's
hardly possible. :p
I realise this is very much "the way I do it" and it's for frames that are to be finished after joining, but it could equally
be used with pre-finished stuff, taking a bit more care not to mark the moulding.
 

echavez123

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Look for a used ITW/AMP VN series underpinner. Or, attend a trade show and make them an offer for a demo model, which saves the vendor having to ship it back. My only experience has been with ITW/AMP underpinners is 14 years old and is solid, reliable and extremely accurate. Prior to doing my own framing, I used to have my frames done by commercial framing company, whose volume was 400-500 frames per week. They used ITW/AMP equipment. So, that is why I went with ITW/AMP.

Having the right equipment is one thing, learning how to use it and how to work with imperfect wood, is in my opinion, an art. Once your underpinner is calibrated properly, you will get decent joins. Then you will learn how to deal with discrepancies in the wood, ie, warping, twisting, hardeness, compostion etc. Good luck.
 

UzZx32QU

Administrator
Staff member
I used a AMP VNJ42 for 30 years, they last forever and can be rebuilt by most users with the a cheap factory supplied kit. Check the for sale area here. A lot of shops have shuttered and you might negotiate a good deal.

framer
 

UzZx32QU

Administrator
Staff member
Buy what you need 1st, saves money in the long run. If you buy used at a good price you could probably could resell it in a year or two for close to what you paid for it.
 

Stephen Enggass

True Grumbler
Do any framers still nail frames with small Brad nails from the side or does everyone pin with vnailer? I’m sure there are exceptions to methods based on project, but in general is nailing still a practiced method?
 

prospero

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Do any framers still nail frames with small Brad nails from the side or does everyone pin with vnailer? I’m sure there are exceptions to methods based on project, but in general is nailing still a practiced method?
I do mainly hand finished frames that are joined before finishing, so nail holes hold no terrors for me. They get 'made good'
in the finishing process. On certain moulding a couple of cross-nails is a great advantage, although they are mostly used in
conjunction with v-nails. On a deep moulding for instance, a shallow v-nail holds the joint in register and the cross nails cinch
the top together. All done while the glue is wet.

On large frames with big, heavy mouldings v-nails are next to useless as regards the strength of the join. They serve only to
keep the faces aligned. In these situations the sheer bulk of the frame works against it. I have been known to wack in a couple
of 4" woodscrews in each corner.

I have seen a lot of old frames and like to study the joining techniques. I saw one once that had a very minimal moulding -
maybe < 8mm square. That had two nails in each corner, on the same side. What's more the joints were still sound.
Them old-school framers were very handy with hammer and nails. 😎
 

alacrity8

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
I use straight nails on corners in two circumstances
1) Joining a shadowbox.
You can stack V-nails to make then go deeper into tall frames, but only up to a point.
Any deep frames will get nails near the face on every corner.
2) Repairing frames.
Many times, when a customer brings in a frame to be fixed we will end up using nails, in addition to glue, to rejoin a bad corner.

Any framer who does not have an underpinner will still use nails in the corner.
You'll want to touch up the corners after adding the nails, to hide the nails.

In general, if you are working with prefinished frame moulding, Underpinned corners look better.

Brian
 

alacrity8

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
I was looking for something else, when I stumbled upon this:

I don't think it would be anyone's first choice, but it still might be useful in a pinch.

Brian
 

MATTHEW HALE

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
I was looking for something else, when I stumbled upon this:

I don't think it would be anyone's first choice, but it still might be useful in a pinch.

Brian
I've been considering purchasing one of those for the rare occasions in which the use of our pneumatic underpinner isn't possible.
If anyone has any experience using one, i'd love to hear feedback as to whether or not it's useful.
 

Larry Peterson

PFG, Picture Framing God
I've been considering purchasing one of those for the rare occasions in which the use of our pneumatic underpinner isn't possible.
If anyone has any experience using one, i'd love to hear feedback as to whether or not it's useful.

But it can cause cancer. You can't make this up.



Product Warnings

Prop 65 Warning
WARNING: Cancer & Reproductive Harm - www.P65Warnings.ca.gov
 

MitchelC

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
No corner clamps needed... I have done this in the past, but mostly for very narrow moulding (1/2" wide), however, it does work on any size picture frame moulding. Using Titebond No-Run, No-Drop wood glue, apply a thin coat to to both 45's and hold the two pieced together with our hands for about 15 seconds, then let it go. Do the same with the other two pieces. Then, wait about 10 minutes, then do the same to join the two remaining corners. Titebond does not drip. If you should put a little too much, after you start holding the corners together, separate the 45's, wipe off the excess glue, the hold them back together for 15 seconds. It works. Try it. you will be amazed. ☺
 

Dan Berg

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
We mostly use 1) Master Clamps and a v-nail underpinne or 2) a Hoffman jointer. Hoffman routed frames are joined with a MacGuyver'd arbor press, to which Hubby has attached a foot drive.
I have been looking at MasterClamps for some time and just cannot get past that price.
Is there a reason most of the marketing literature has drawings instead of pictures.
Do they think no one will copy their design if they don't put actual pictures up?
I have a set of Rockler corner clamps when needed but they are no good for tall floaters.
May just have to bite the bullet and get a set unless I can find some used ones.
 

shayla

WOW Framer
I have been looking at MasterClamps for some time and just cannot get past that price.
Is there a reason most of the marketing literature has drawings instead of pictures.
Do they think no one will copy their design if they don't put actual pictures up?
I have a set of Rockler corner clamps when needed but they are no good for tall floaters.
May just have to bite the bullet and get a set unless I can find some used ones.
I don't know. But we love them. Have both the short and tall.
 

prospero

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Anyone use the old-school spring clamps. I got a set recently and they are very handy when joining
certain awkward mouldings. Drawback? You have to fill the divots. 😒 When I started framing every
framer I knew had a set.

springclamops.jpg
 

alacrity8

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
I have been looking at MasterClamps for some time and just cannot get past that price.
Is there a reason most of the marketing literature has drawings instead of pictures.
Do they think no one will copy their design if they don't put actual pictures up?
I have a set of Rockler corner clamps when needed but they are no good for tall floaters.
May just have to bite the bullet and get a set unless I can find some used ones.
For Shadowbox and floater frames, I will sometimes use a Stanley Vise, and a cheap Hardware store corner vice as a cap.
One of these: homedepot.com/p/BESSEY-90-Degree-Corner-Clamp-WS-1/204958409

Brian
Anyone use the old-school spring clamps. I got a set recently and they are very handy when joining
certain awkward mouldings. Drawback? You have to fill the divots. 😒 When I started framing every
framer I knew had a set.

View attachment 31823
I've considered getting a set of these to try out.
Was curious how big of a hole they cause.

Brian
 

Dan Berg

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Bought several of the MasterClamps this morning ouch! Almost $900 for 2 with shipping. All this equipment I thought I had for the job but it keeps going. When I got my new Amp underpinner I thought that would be it. Regarding the Hoffman there are times when hammering the keys from the back you get a corner that is not flush on the front and there is no way to get it apart and fix it. (Anyone have a trick for that issue?) I am using the #2 bit in the Hoffman but it is too big for the new smaller floater that seems to be selling.
It is not that hard to switch back and forth between the #2 and #1 but it is not worth the time when I only have to do one small frame.
So I will go the MasterClamp route for the small Floaters and skip the Hoffman.
 

MATTHEW HALE

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Regarding the Hoffman there are times when hammering the keys from the back you get a corner that is not flush on the front and there is no way to get it apart and fix it. (Anyone have a trick for that issue?)
i only use Hoffman wedges on frames with a flat face. set them face down on a dead-flat surface and pound the wedge halfway in, check the alignment, wiggle if necessary, then gently finish tapping the wedges in. seems to work OK for me.
 

poliopete

Grumbler
I have mainly use a pneumatic underpinner with what I call "an air vice". I place the mitred corner in the position I want the wedges/v-nails to be.

Depress the foot pedal part way and two jaws lock the corner firmly in position. My hands are then free and I am able to see the mitre is tight and aligned. If not, then lift foot, free the corner and reposition. Once satisfied, press foot pedal part way to again lock the two legs and pressing the pedal full way fires the v-nails with the most satisfactory sound. The then glued and pinned frame can sit until the glue cures and allows you to do other things cut mounts, backs or glass.

This method makes a frame efficiently for most of the work that walks through the door. It also allows you to work in "batches" making best use of time and minimising waste.

I agree a professional pneumatic pinner is a bigger cash outlay, but over the years I have found buying the best professional equipment that you can afford is the way to go if you intend building a successful picture framing business.
 

rhop

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Fletcher 5000 manual frame joiner. Been using it for twenty years. Paid $500 for it. Nothing fancy but it does the job.5D516993-6B76-4718-A0A1-4D670D275C16.jpeg
 

Dan Berg

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
i only use Hoffman wedges on frames with a flat face. set them face down on a dead-flat surface and pound the wedge halfway in, check the alignment, wiggle if necessary, then gently finish tapping the wedges in. seems to work OK for me.
Thanks Matt
I think I may have found the issue.
These are taller moldings and when I tap the keys in they are so tight that a little plastic of the side of the key sheers off.
I need to check and probably adjust the bit so it is not so tight. I did another corner last night and it was perfectly flat when I started to tap in the key. Once it was in a 1/2" I had to hit the key extremely hard to get the key to go in and that is when the fame slid about a 32nd. As you know a 32nd off on the face is no good. Looks like another operator error issue.
 

wpfay

Angry Badger
Dan, If you are having issues with the Hoffmann, call Gary or Marcus at Hoffmann and they will help you figure it out.
I use only the W-1 bit and it is set a couple thousandths of an inch deep so the keys have more of a pulling action to tighten the joint. They recently came out with the W-0 bit and accompanying keys, and you can join very thin materials with that, though I would probably get a second machine and have one dedicated to each bit size.
Another issue that can cause problems with joints opening is the saw not being perfectly perpendicular to the bed.
Do you have the tall fence for the Hoffmann for shadowbox frames? Are you using a fairly hard surface when driving the keys home?
 

Joe B

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I have been looking at MasterClamps for some time and just cannot get past that price.
Is there a reason most of the marketing literature has drawings instead of pictures. Do they think no one will copy their design if they don't put actual pictures up? I have a set of Rockler corner clamps when needed but they are no good for tall floaters. May just have to bite the bullet and get a set unless I can find some used ones.
I must be one of the few framers that do not like MasterClamps. I purchased 4 a few years back and disliked them from the minute I got them, I ended up selling them for pennies on the dollar.

I use Stanley 400 and in my opinion they are superior to MasterClamps in every way. You can adjust the miter perfectly by hand and don't need the adjustments that MasterClamps claim as superior. If I have an extremely high moulding, which I don't have often, I will use a strap clamp along the top with the Stanley 400 at the bottom, it is very seldom that I have to do that.
 

Dan Berg

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Dan, If you are having issues with the Hoffmann, call Gary or Marcus at Hoffmann and they will help you figure it out.
I use only the W-1 bit and it is set a couple thousandths of an inch deep so the keys have more of a pulling action to tighten the joint. They recently came out with the W-0 bit and accompanying keys, and you can join very thin materials with that, though I would probably get a second machine and have one dedicated to each bit size.
Another issue that can cause problems with joints opening is the saw not being perfectly perpendicular to the bed.
Do you have the tall fence for the Hoffmann for shadowbox frames? Are you using a fairly hard surface when driving the keys home?
I do not have the tall fence. I am using a hard surface when the front surface is flat. With a profiled face I usually have some kind of leveler which is always a little softer.
 

Dan Berg

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
I must be one of the few framers that do not like MasterClamps. I purchased 4 a few years back and disliked them from the minute I got them, I ended up selling them for pennies on the dollar.

I use Stanley 400 and in my opinion they are superior to MasterClamps in every way. You can adjust the miter perfectly by hand and don't need the adjustments that MasterClamps claim as superior. If I have an extremely high moulding, which I don't have often, I will use a strap clamp along the top with the Stanley 400 at the bottom, it is very seldom that I have to do that.
I have 2 of 400 knockoffs under the workbench as I found them only good for very shallow moldings. What do you use to support the other end of the moldings? Sticking up in the air like they do I could never get past putting one good joint together at a time.
 

Joe B

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I have 2 of 400 knockoffs under the workbench as I found them only good for very shallow moldings. What do you use to support the other end of the moldings? Sticking up in the air like they do I could never get past putting one good joint together at a time.
I have 8 Stanley 400s and I will glue the whole frame at one time using Maxim Red (slow set up) glue. I install the strap clamp immediately after setting the last leg into the vise. I let it set for about 30 - 40 minutes before I underpin. There has been times I have had 2 full frames going at a time.

If you have the 400 knockoffs check where they are manufactured. If they are manufactured in China you may have some carpy vises. When I first started in business I purchased 2 vises from, I believe, United and they were made in China and were not a true 45. I got rid of them real quick and purchase MasterClamps - got rid of those real quick too and then went to the Stanley 400 and have never looked back.
 

wpfay

Angry Badger
Joe, you might want to be looking for a replacement glue for the Maxim Red. I talked with Len Lastuck, owner of Kool Tac and manufacturer of Maxim glues, last year looking for a source, and he informed me they stopped making the Maxim Red glue a few years prior to that. He also warned against buying from inventories over 2 years old. The glue does have a shelf life.
I prefer the slower set glue as well, and have been using Corner Weld original (I think Corner Weld has 3 different lines now) since my local distributor of Maxim products inventory of the Red glue is about 5 years old, , but am always on the lookout for something better.
 

Joe B

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Thanks Wally - I never knew that and I'm sure mine is at least 5 years old. I bought 2 bottles of it and only use it for how I described with tall moulding - I hope none of them fall apart o_O . Truthfully out of the 2 bottles I probably have 1-1/2 bottles left, that's how much I have used it. For my general framing I use Corner Weld also but I heard that they are stopping production of Corner Weld too? I never knew they made several different lines of it. I will dispose of the Red Maxim and check into the Corner Weld.
 

alacrity8

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
I have 2 of 400 knockoffs under the workbench as I found them only good for very shallow moldings. What do you use to support the other end of the moldings? Sticking up in the air like they do I could never get past putting one good joint together at a time.
Dan, I made these triangular risers that nest when not in use.
Vise and Risers.jpg
I tend to do opposite corners to start, then the other two corners one at a time.
I have enough frames in the works that doing all 4 corners at once doesn't save me any time, and I find I get a better joint on that last corner if I let the glue set on the other three corners.

Joe B, I am also not a fan of the Masterclamp.
I tried one at a convention, and it seemed okay, but they did not bring the worst case scenario of joining the final corner where the frame sticks have some warp.
I do not like any clamp that uses a single tightening knob. It gives so much less control on you project.
I still like cutting mats with a C&H Advantage. I do not trust the C&H Advantage Pro, with it's single adjustment knob.

Brian
 

wpfay

Angry Badger
Masterclamp changed manufacturers a while back. Prior that, they were made for Masterclamp by the same folks that make the Ledsome saws. I have a pair of the older V-8 models and use them sparingly, but when I need to physically force a joint into line, they are my go-to tools. They do have limitations, and using them takes up a lot of bench space. I have never tried the ones built to join shadowboxes. For that I have the Hoffmann system or I can get out my strap or band clamps.
 

shayla

WOW Framer
Last edited:

shayla

WOW Framer
Masterclamp changed manufacturers a while back. Prior that, they were made for Masterclamp by the same folks that make the Ledsome saws. I have a pair of the older V-8 models and use them sparingly, but when I need to physically force a joint into line, they are my go-to tools. They do have limitations, and using them takes up a lot of bench space. I have never tried the ones built to join shadowboxes. For that I have the Hoffmann system or I can get out my strap or band clamps.
How far back? We bought our low clamps about five years ago. Hubby came up with a helpful tweak on the low clamps and shared the idea. He felt good contributing. Bought the tall clamps about a year later, and they're great for shadowboxes. Still have pipe clamps and strap clamps, for other projects, and he bought new pipe clamps after seeing some here.
 
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