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Preferred Method of Joining

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


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.
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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


WOW Framer


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.
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?


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. 😎


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.

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