Question What to charge to repair a frame?


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I had a customer bring in a huge piece today that "fell" and needs repair. The inside dimensions are 48.5" x 39".

The frame moulding is about 3.5" wide, and was glued and v-nailed about three times in each corner. The frame has come apart at the two bottom corners, and the only thing holding it together at all are the v-nails. The two corners will have to be taken apart, and from what I can see, the wood is a bit cracked and splintered from the fall (so who knows how well I'll be able to nail it back together - might have to go for strategically placed mending plates), The whole bottom rail is tipped/twisted a few degrees out from the glass, and I can't hold the corners back together correctly at all by hand.

The glass shattered too, so it needs to be replaced: UV Clear.

I usually charge for unfit and refit, because I never know what I'm going to find in the backs of these kinds of things.

So, what would you charge for a job like this?
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Pat Murphey

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I think you need to log onto a magician's forum. Seriously, you need to charge shop time plus materials. The downside is that if you spend much time discovering that you can't make a decent repair, what would you do next. Also, has the glass damaged the art and mat(s)?

Jeff Rodier

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Once the frame is damaged the best bet is to cut it down so you are working with good wood. If the frame must return to it's original size I just charge the same as I would if replacing it.


Forum Support Team
Staff member
I had a similar scenario, but a smaller size frame. Customer came in, wood was absolute carp.

I told him I would be more than willing to try, would charge for my time and materials but would not be able to give him any guarantees. (and please sign here....).
He quickly selected a new frame.
As soon as customers realize you don't work for free, they are ready to replace the carp. Most of times.


PFG, Picture Framing God
My auto mechanic charges $130/hour. So, consider whether your time and expertise is more or less valuable than an auto mechanic's.


PFG, Picture Framing God
If the frame has a distressed finish, it becomes a lot easier to get a satisfactory repair by gluing, clamping, touching up etc.
If it has a smooth painted or leafed finish then it becomes very tough to disguise the repair and may not be worth the time involved and possibly the leg should be replaced if available or replace the frame or cut it down if you can.
I usually charge for unfit, fit, plus the glass plus about $60. an hour extra labor.


SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Like Neil said...

I keep a syringe handy that I can put glue into and squeeze into the miters then put in the vice clamp, fill in gaps with wood putty and retouch with oil paints. Some jobs lend themselves to this type of repair and some do not. In lieu of a syringe, you can often force glue into a joint and push it in with toothpicks.

Often easier to start anew.


PFG, Picture Framing God
Normally what I would do is remove the bottom leg with the 2 broken corners. If the other 2 corners are OK , I remove all the metal (nails, vnails,etc.) from the 2 broken corners and the loose leg.
This requires a chopper or a saw with room around it, I then take the 3 sided frame and just shave the corners on the chopper or saw along with the loose leg to get a fresh corner with no glue residue.
Then I glue and join the loose leg in a vise back to the 3 sided frame.
Vnail after it's joined and touch up.
Sometimes I will inject glue into the corners as others have said if the corners will easily go right back together.
Pipe clamps and web clamps are also handy in some situations.
Good luck on that job. :icon21:


PFG, Picture Framing God
I take it all apart, shave it down and put it all back together. $60/hour plus materials, including all time it sits in a vise when I have other things that need that need to go in there. But it's arid here, glue sets up fast. I try to keep them out of my way so I'll do them right before I leave for the day and let it set up overnight when it's not in my way.

If it is badly damaged, I refuse.

Little frames are about 45 minutes, big frame like yours would run about 1 and 1/2 hours. Or they could take that ninety bucks and get something that hasn't been in accident. :thumbsup:


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I like Neil's answer with one addition:

Throw in an additional hour's worth of labour for problems which you didn't expect when you quoted. I usually find taking the whole thing apart, shaving the corners and re-assembling to be the quickest solution but if the wood has been badly distorted I will usually suggest replacement.

Where I have tried the repair route I don't believe I have ever come out significantly in front.


Unless I am doing this as a favour for a regular customer, I will normally explain that it will cost more to mend it than to replace it. That way they will either decide not to bother, or start to look at the framing chevrons.

But our business is fraught with unknowns that take up time for no extra money. I am re-framing a set of autographs for a well-known soccer team - little did I know that each one was stuck in with masking tape AND ATG tape - took me almost 1.5 hours before I could even start framing!

Bob Doyle

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
$20 plus the cost of the glass...

Of course it'll be back burnered and they won't see it until March of 2011...

Or $100 glass included and I won't see them until lMarch...


True Grumbler
I would charge my hourly rate. As well as a fitting charge. I take pictures of the piece before I touch it and what I find when I open the back etc...

tellthem your hourly rate then est the time and see what they say.


SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I took in an oval frame in three pieces which had definitely seen better days. Convinced the customer, since the old convex glass was intact that I could order a new old-looking frame from ILO.

Unfortunately the rabbet of the ILO frame did not fit the old glass and besides, it looked way too plasticky so I dug out the original oval, repaired it for the same price, customer was thrilled to have his heritage frame back and I later completely repainted the the ILO (cream with pink and green accents) and sold it to someone else.

Two birds with one oval.

I usually charge my hourly labor charge for repair work and add a price for any unusual materials I may have to buy to git 'er done.


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Thanks for the info and opinions guys & gals!

When I gave them the quote, I added two hours of shop time to fix the frame. I could've probably added more. They've decided to wait for the time being, but that they will bring it back for repair. (They said they'd rather spend the money on dental work---harumpf!) They did leave one other piece with me to frame, so at least I got that. I warned them repeatedly about moving the broken piece around since the glass was continuing to spider-crack and that the glass was likely to scratch the art if they didn't deal with it or moved it around too much. It's up to them for now, but I bet they bring it back with the cracked glass still in it.