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Preferred Method of Joining

Dan Berg

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Thanks to all.
I fine-tuned my bit depth on my new Hoffman and so much better results.
I have 4 MasterClamps coming 2 regular and two of the tall ones.
Being a tool guy I had to try these. That $1500 was a little hard to stomach for four clamps but I'll let you know how it goes.
They should work real well for the shallow frame panos we do.
 

Dirk

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Hi Dan-
Our joining table is absolutely flat and is covered with a sheet of acrylic - not conservation quality as we don't care whether the UV fades the table top! I attached 3/4" thick UHMW plastic to the underside of our MasterClamps by fastening with step-ups. That way, if ambient temperature changes, the difference in expansion rate for plastic versus steel will not cause the UHMW to bow had the plastic been firmly attached. The UHMW bases allow the clamps to slide easily on the tabletop - quite helpful when clamping all four corners at once. (UHMW is available at Online Metals and can be machined with standard woodworking tools.)

As with any machinery, it will take some experience to get the best results from the MasterClamps, and the only way to gain that experience is by using the equipment.

We have a small desk lamp with a flexible neck that we use to get good lighting on the corner while clamping. Tighten slowly when the clamp jaws first engage the frame legs and adjust the relative positions of the legs to minimize horizontal offset. Once the teeth in the jaws indent the inner surface of the moulding, you'll have a dickens of a time repositioning the legs.

We have a small shop, so buy much of our moulding as chops. Miter accuracy can be less than accurate, so I sand all miters on a manual disc sander. Use a soft pencil to mark around the face of the miter - when the pencil disappears (from sanding), you can be confident you have a flat surface, and if you have aligned the disc, the angle should be forty-five degrees. The industry-standard sanders come with 80-grit discs. Throw them away and buy 180-grit or finer. Also, experience will tell you which direction to rotate the disc. Gesso-covered mouldings can develop ragged fractures at the tip of the miter, so I usually sand them in reverse - which does require a strong grip on the moulding to avoid deviating from forty-five degrees. Also, sanding rustic mouldings can create small slivers at the tip when sanding in the forward direction

I doubt Avi approves of this last bit of advice: Not that you'd ever get a twisted or warped stick, but if that ever happened, you could grip (and twist) both legs while clamping if you set up a small air ratchet with a one-inch socket and operate the air ratchet with a foot-operated pneumatic valve. Don't get carried away with running the ratchet as you could damage the clamps, but I've used this technique several times to make a big improvement to what would otherwise have been an ugly corner.

Hope you learn to love your MasterClamps as much as I do mine.
 

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.
On the 400's the tightening part of the clamp is so shallow they do not pull the joint together at the top, just at the rabbet. (For me)
As a cabinetmaker I am no dummy when it comes to clamps either.
Anything much over 3/4" thick would open at the top when clamping tight. Too much hassle.
 

bobtnailer

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Howdy, fellow framing rookie!

The frame shop we bought out a few years ago had been using a Jyden "ka-chunk" chopper, and had joined each corner on a manual vise with brads. That worked well for them for almost 40 years, so they had no need/desire to do anything different for chopping and joining.

I'm a big process nerd, and I love production toys tools. I had a little cash, so I forked over $3,500 for a new Cassese CS200 underpinner. This thing does a fantastic job of joining, even though I have to make the occasional adjustment to the fence angle to make perfect corners. Even with this fancy-schmancy tool, it is still the GLUE that does the heavy lifting. The underpinner, while a grand and noble beast, is only there to keep the rails in place while the glue does its job.

There are some mouldings that simply don't do as well on the underpinner, so I still use the vise from time to time. Not often, but some.

I sometimes wish that I had invested in a high-quality double miter saw instead of the joiner. I have a couple of cheap miter saws that can't seem to hold an angle, so I keep using the Jyden to cut moulding. Mind you, it does a great job with most mouldings, but it does tend to chip the gesso on some stuff.

Welcome to Grumble! We've got fun and games! (Hmmm...that almost sounds like the first line to a song.)
 

shayla

WOW Framer
a-ha. thought i was missing out on some new-fangled hardware.
Nope. He's just been confused by his wife, who was trained to call them step-ups. :cool:
 

Joe B

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
On the 400's the tightening part of the clamp is so shallow they do not pull the joint together at the top, just at the rabbet. (For me) As a cabinetmaker I am no dummy when it comes to clamps either. Anything much over 3/4" thick would open at the top when clamping tight. Too much hassle.
Yea, I agree and that is why I have stated that I use a strap clamp around the top along with the 400's on the bottom. It takes a few more minutes but the joints are perfect.
 

prospero

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Nope. He's just been confused by his wife, who was trained to call them step-ups. :cool:
Ahaaaaaah!......You mean bendy plates. 😄

Lion/Techmark do some like mirror plates but are very thin and easily bent. My go-to method for fixing canvases
that are on bars. The nice thing is, they hold fast but retain a bit of 'give'.
 

shayla

WOW Framer
Ahaaaaaah!......You mean bendy plates. 😄

Lion/Techmark do some like mirror plates but are very thin and easily bent. My go-to method for fixing canvases
that are on bars. The nice thing is, they hold fast but retain a bit of 'give'.
Thanks for the reminder. We got a catalogue from them, and I loved so many things that it was overwhelming. So, I bent down a ton of page corners and didn't do anything. Perhaps I should rethink this strategy. lol....
 

Rick Granick

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Ahaaaaaah!......You mean bendy plates. 😄
Lion/Techmark do some like mirror plates but are very thin and easily bent. My go-to method for fixing canvases
that are on bars. The nice thing is, they hold fast but retain a bit of 'give'.
Years ago I used to make my own like that, using a sheet of thin soft metal used by printers, that a friend gave me. I would cut it into whatever size strips or tabs I needed using tin snips, and it could be stapled into place.
:cool: Rick
 

poliopete

Grumbler
When I first started framing I did something similar to Rick. Only my thin soft metal strips were cut from Coke cans with a pair of stout scissors.
 

coppertop

Grumbler
artist here, doing only frames for my own work. I have seriously begun to hate framing. I think I got warped moulding. I have 2 corner vises, a dewalt saw, a small hobby sander, and use brads. my corners just plain suck. I've trolled this site but much is over my head or wallet. but I really need to figure this out, as there are no other options for me! are there any places to learn old school like this? my volume is low, I may just use up what I have and have to go back to buying from a catalog. my moulding is from Interntl. Moulding, is this cheap junk or am I just somehow the one and only person ever to simply not be able to get clean joins????
 

prospero

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
artist here, doing only frames for my own work. I have seriously begun to hate framing. I think I got warped moulding. I have 2 corner vises, a dewalt saw, a small hobby sander, and use brads. my corners just plain suck. I've trolled this site but much is over my head or wallet. but I really need to figure this out, as there are no other options for me! are there any places to learn old school like this? my volume is low, I may just use up what I have and have to go back to buying from a catalog. my moulding is from Interntl. Moulding, is this cheap junk or am I just somehow the one and only person ever to simply not be able to get clean joins????
Ever thought of doing hand-finishing?

As an artist you shouldn't have much trouble. About 90% of the frames I do are for artists and are all
finished after joining. True, it's more work but you can create individual designs tailors to your own work.
All you need is a selection of plain wood mouldings which you can mix and match.
Ready finished moulding is variable in quality and the worse it is the better equipment you need in my exp.

If you build the frames first and then finish them you can 'make good' any defects in the surface - even quite
major dings. Bit of a gap in the corner? No problem. As long as the joints are sound the little gaps disappear.
Your wastage of moulding will be reduced dramatically. Also, in the course of exhibiting your work the frames
are going to get knocked and get minor damage. It looks bad if you have tatty frames on display. If you do your
own finish then you can repair it perfectly. Same can't be said for factory finished moulding which is often
impossible to touch up satisfactorily, leading to a total write-off. Very costly.

Your favorite moulding will never be discontinued.

And don't think it's a dark art and very difficult. Often the simplest of finishes is the best. It's mostly sandpapering. 🤣

Have a think about it.....🙂
 

Jim Miller

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
In one of the shops where I do occasional framing, we use two Cassesse CS299 machines. They are actuated differently, but both of them can be used to hold clamped miters and let them rest until the glue sets up or dries before driving the v-nails. Having the glue set-up or dry avoids the problem of wet-glued miters shifting under pressure of driving the fastener. This method works for most mouldings, but some are just too twisted or warped to work with that way.

Last year I built a set of four of these pneumatic clamps to force-fit the miters on badly-twisted, warped floater frames. These are not good photos, but you probably can see how the alignment of the tall fences can be fine-adjusted by thumb-screws in all four corners. The air pressure can be adjusted, too. The cylinder is normally closed, and there's a foot-pedal on the floor to hold it open; lift foot off the pedal, and the clamp closes, so we can glue & position the miters, then hold under pressure until glue dries.

These can be adapted to clamp any tall mouldings and most short ones by changing the size & shape of the horizontal push-bar, which is made of wood and held on the end of the cylinder's plunger by magnets.

I built these out of stock aluminum extrusions and hardware for under $100 each.

Photo-Pneumatic clamp B.jpg



Photo-Pneumatic clamp A.jpg

In my own shop, we used a Fletcher F5700 pneumatic underpinner, which usually enabled us to manipulate the miters enough to achieve tight, well-aligned joints. However, when that routine joining process didn't work, we had two alternatives:

1. Hoffmann dovetail routing - this method can bring some twisted/warped mouldings together at the corners, better than just v-nailing.
2. Mechanical vices - Stanley (or equal) cast-iron vices may be the industry-standard clamping tools, but Master Clamps can do wonderful things, as well.
 

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coppertop

Grumbler
Ever thought of doing hand-finishing?

As an artist you shouldn't have much trouble. About 90% of the frames I do are for artists and are all
finished after joining. True, it's more work but you can create individual designs tailors to your own work.
All you need is a selection of plain wood mouldings which you can mix and match.
Ready finished moulding is variable in quality and the worse it is the better equipment you need in my exp.

If you build the frames first and then finish them you can 'make good' any defects in the surface - even quite
major dings. Bit of a gap in the corner? No problem. As long as the joints are sound the little gaps disappear.
Your wastage of moulding will be reduced dramatically. Also, in the course of exhibiting your work the frames
are going to get knocked and get minor damage. It looks bad if you have tatty frames on display. If you do your
own finish then you can repair it perfectly. Same can't be said for factory finished moulding which is often
impossible to touch up satisfactorily, leading to a total write-off. Very costly.

Your favorite moulding will never be discontinued.

And don't think it's a dark art and very difficult. Often the simplest of finishes is the best. It's mostly sandpapering. 🤣

Have a think about it.....🙂
never have thought along this line. how difficult is it? how does one learn to do this? one thought I have is how nice it'd be to only stock a few profiles but be able to finish them in different ways. where does one find the moulding?
 

Ylva

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
You can buy raw stock and experiment with some different finishes.
I use a flat, forgiving, profile and finish it however I want it. You can paint, stain, add patterns, sky is the limit.

I don’t carry international moulding, so am not sure about their quality.

You might be able to make friends with a framer and buy just the frames. I do this for a handful of artists.
Cut, join, sell
My markup is lower on that and very affordable for the artist, while still making some money for me.
 

prospero

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Hand-finishing is not as difficult as it may appear. As long as it looks 'right' and the finish is stable,
that's all that matters. When I say 'stable' I mean it doesn't rub off with normal handling.
You don't need a lot of equipment or materials. It's the sort of thing you learn by doing.
Good idea to study existing finished moulding and try to reverse-engineer it.
There are many plain profiles available. You can even get your own sections milled to order if you want one
that you are going to use regularly. In addition to this, there are many 'builders' mouldings that can be adapted
and stacked together and many finished mouldings can be re-finished.

It's not everybody's thing, but it works for me. 🙂
 
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