Frame you own crap!
/forum/topic/1132426/0

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RawPixelMedia
Registered: Sep 25, 2011
Total Posts: 30
Country: United States

For the last couple of days I been researching how to frame your own photograph, i don't mean buying a frame form Walmart and sticking your work in there. I mean buy frame molding then cut and join it yourself, pretty much from scratch. So my question is how hard is it and is it worth the time and money spent on equipment.



Lovesong
Registered: Jan 29, 2008
Total Posts: 625
Country: United States

This is kind of a meh starter, but it should give you an idea... you will need a miter saw, just any old saw won't do.

Unless you're looking to make something unique or are very good at carpentry, I would say it's a waste of time, and you'd get better stuff at Walmart.

I've been into woodworking for about 17 years, and while I'd say I have the skills to make a decent frame, I doubt I can make something that is going to be that much better than can be bought. As I said, special materials or unique design not withstanding.



Naranek
Registered: May 25, 2010
Total Posts: 68
Country: United States

A third alternative is to check and see if there is a frame shop in your area which offers a do it yourself capability. The one I used a couple of times for a painting and a print offered a variety of frame types and they cut/mitered the wood. They also assisted with the matte used for the print. I then assembled the frame. They were there to oversee and offer guidance as needed.

It was immediately obvious that framing offers many opportunities for frustration. It was more expensive than buying pre-built frames and less expensive than having it done professionally. On the upside the frame material was better than the pre-assembled stuff and I gained a real appreciation for why custom framing costs what it does. While I have no desire to do this again I am happy to have had the experience.

The advantage to you would be having the experience of building a frame and seeing how involved it can be without the expense of buying tools for something you might decide in the end that you only want to do once.



Tete
Registered: May 18, 2012
Total Posts: 188
Country: United States

one bit of advice depending on the look you are going for is going to a thrift store and buying some old wood frame and dismantling them and then cutting to size.

I personally like this look, but obviously its a bit of work and probably not cost effective.



cgardner
Registered: Nov 18, 2002
Total Posts: 9376
Country: United States

There is a degree of skill and investment in tools involved. For example a basic Ryobi miter saw costs about $120 and a fine trim blade another $20 or so. With a good saw about the only way you can screw-up is measuring or cutting incorrectly. And you will. But creating a set-up jigs (stop to hold the wood the required distance from the blade) will solve that problem. A $50 electric tacking gun will make assembly easier than manually hammering nails. There are other tools which are helpful for framing such as a gun to fire the diamond shaped glazing points. Do you plan using mats? If so you'll want to factor in the cost of a mat cutter and misc. tools like a large T-square for cutting down the mat board. Minimum you are probably looking at spending $300 to get set-up to do the job easily and precisely but could easily wind up spend twice as much. Is it a good investment? Depends how many frames you plan to do and what else you can do with the tools.

Then there are the variable costs to consider. Trim lumber costs $1.50 and up per ft. and comes in 8ft lengths which result in spoilage. For a 24" x 36" frame you'd need two pieces costing around $24. After the cutting and assembly there's the filling, sanding and painting adding about a dollar per frame to the cost of materials. A matte board would cost about $3, so that's $28 in materials and hour per frame to complete everything if doing a few at a time. Add the amortized the cost of the equipment over 100 frames and the cost per frame for tools and materials is around $31 each. The most expensive component will be your labor. How much is that hour per frame of your time worth?

There are better sources for frames than Walmart. I Googled and found this site with on-line estimating for custom frames and matting: http://www.framesbymail.com/custom/726/Wood I entered similar size specs for 24 x 36 wood frame and mat. The cost? $80 More expensive than DIY if your time is free or only worth $20 per hour, but break-even if you value / bill your time at $50 per hour.

As with most things you can DIY yourself you are paying a premium for the convenience of not having to do the work. If you are selling the framed work it's more a question of what your customers will pay and profit margin.



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 13568
Country: United States

Naranek wrote:
It was immediately obvious that framing offers many opportunities for frustration.


+1

Kinda depends on your goals related to quality of output desired.

Putting together "seamless" 45 degree miters requires a fair degree of precision and there are a few ways to achieve that level of quality workmanship via tools & $$$ or via experience, discipline & patience.

I would equate it to making the jump into manual focus, manual exposure and manual PP of RAW. The opportunities are infinitely more variable and refined ... but frought with opportunity to "miss" until you develop your proficiency. If you are willing to invest into the effort ... nice & rewarding (cost effective is "so-so" depending on yourviewpoint) ... but seamless 45's aren't for the faint of heart. But if you goals are more along the lines of the versatility that moulding offers ... there's definitely some gain to be had there ... but comes at the expense of time & space in addition to $$$.


I've gone down both roads ... and here is an excerpt from a link that I find useful.
http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1039666/0?keyword=frame#9876213


tabby7 (ebay seller name)
http://stores.ebay.com/Custom-Framing-Factory-Outlet?_trksid=p4340.l2563

1541 East 559th Rd.
Brighton Mo. 65617
417-376-2159-call 10-6 central time
417-756-2078-FAX


They made me some nice frames for last years photo comp. I chose simple black with a profile, but they have much more. They have an ebay feedback of around 30,000+. Worked out fine for my needs.

Will revisit them for this years comp also.



marti.g3
Registered: Oct 04, 2011
Total Posts: 2034
Country: United States

Just go to Michael's or Hobby Lobby....they have nice frames and most of the time their open backed frames are 50% off. Why waste all of that time and money and frustration trying to be carpenter. Time is money.



Tete
Registered: May 18, 2012
Total Posts: 188
Country: United States

marti.g3 wrote:
Just go to Michael's or Hobby Lobby....they have nice frames and most of the time their open backed frames are 50% off. Why waste all of that time and money and frustration trying to be carpenter. Time is money.


Also consider this!! my wife gets coupon for as much as 70% off. clearance included every now and then.

great way to get a good frame for super cheap. I like to print so i'm always buying frames. For real basic gallery stuff and when gifting photos I will use Ikea. Very minimalistic.



Sid Ceaser
Registered: Mar 18, 2005
Total Posts: 597
Country: United States

When I frame my photographs or other peoples artwork for my home, I buy from www.americanframe.com and piece it together myself when they arrive.



Jorgen Udvang
Registered: Aug 01, 2005
Total Posts: 2218
Country: Thailand

You can also ask your clients to take their own photos so that you get more time to do the framing...



markd61
Registered: May 26, 2009
Total Posts: 471
Country: United States

OK, no answers from framers here so I will put in my two cents.

The framers I know work two ways.
One is to buy the molding from distributors and cut or "chop" and join their frames. They also cut the glass and the mats and do all sorts of other tedious things that are necessary when framing things other than prints.
A fair amount of equipment, training, material and space is required. The costs are not huge if you are used to the overhead of a 3-5 person business but a one man operation may find it a bit steep.

The other way frame shops work (and this is how Michaels and Aaron Bros work) is to measure the piece, order the chops from the distributor (joined or unjoined) and have it shipped UPS. The advantages are that the charges for cutting chops are very small when doing small quantities. You can also order the mats and glass. All you do is fit the print into the mat and frame, apply backing and hanger wire and you are done. You also have the advantage of access to all the funky molding you want.

Check around in your area for wholesale framing supply houses. They will work with small operators.

If you are a one person studio I understand your desire to cut costs but to spend so much time acquiring the wrong gear and spending too much time on learning the wrong stuff keeps you from the rest of your business.

Good luck



lukeb
Registered: Nov 13, 2010
Total Posts: 1892
Country: United States

markd61 wrote:
OK, no answers from framers here so I will put in my two cents.

The framers I know work two ways.
One is to buy the molding from distributors and cut or "chop" and join their frames. They also cut the glass and the mats and do all sorts of other tedious things that are necessary when framing things other than prints.
A fair amount of equipment, training, material and space is required. The costs are not huge if you are used to the overhead of a 3-5 person business but a one man operation may find it a bit steep.

The other way frame shops work (and this is how Michaels and Aaron Bros work) is to measure the piece, order the chops from the distributor (joined or unjoined) and have it shipped UPS. The advantages are that the charges for cutting chops are very small when doing small quantities. You can also order the mats and glass. All you do is fit the print into the mat and frame, apply backing and hanger wire and you are done. You also have the advantage of access to all the funky molding you want.

Check around in your area for wholesale framing supply houses. They will work with small operators.

If you are a one person studio I understand your desire to cut costs but to spend so much time acquiring the wrong gear and spending too much time on learning the wrong stuff keeps you from the rest of your business.

Good luck


+1



fastw
Registered: May 20, 2009
Total Posts: 166
Country: Australia

If it's crap, don't bother



Josh Evilsizor
Registered: Sep 23, 2005
Total Posts: 3032
Country: United States

you need more than just a miter saw... you also need a router, or a table saw set up with a dado blade to make the rabbit on the back of the frame for the glass, matte, and photo to sit in.

It's far cheaper and easier in the long run to just buy your frames....



sorpa
Registered: Oct 13, 2009
Total Posts: 323
Country: Canada

Hmm, nobody mentions corner clamps. At least 2.
And that blade for the mitre saw is not $20. Because you want one that doesn`t chip your wood. And it`s expensive.



gmff
Registered: Oct 20, 2004
Total Posts: 429
Country: United States

I have a frame shop that I run to supplement my income. Framing is not difficult if you can measure, add and subtract correctly, accurately transmit your measurements to the media that you are cutting and cut the media accurately. It is time consuming to learn and does require some special tools.
Thinks to think of:
1) You can purchase most of what you need to frame and assemble a frame yourself and save a little money. Find a framer to work with you, that will assure you that you are working with quality material. Places like Michael and other big box stores that have framing have really bad frames that are poorly put together and the price gimmicks that are used to sucker customers in are deceiving (my daughter works for a big box framer and calls me with these stories of "Dad do you know what we did today, ha ha ha and the customer never knew).
2)If time and money and the desire to have your hands on the project the whole way than you can purchase the equipment for framing (good, basic stuff) for about $5,000, some 2nd hand equipment is available to reduce that price some as framing has been hit hard by the recession. Learn to join the corners properly and how to fill the corners that have been joined. Make sure that you have proper techniques to mount your photos into the frames. Also manage your waste well, one of the problems and reasons for high prices on framing is waste.

If you want more info email me, your phone # I be happy to talk to you more about framing.



Bob Kane
Registered: Mar 02, 2007
Total Posts: 294
Country: United States

Sid Ceaser wrote:
When I frame my photographs or other peoples artwork for my home, I buy from www.americanframe.com and piece it together myself when they arrive.


+1.

I have a complete shop, including a Lion miter trimmer for furniture moldings, and I can make and assemble frames of good quality. But the time and effort involved aren't worth it to me. The icing on the cake is the mat. Without a GOOD mat cutter (my friend's cost almost $700) and some skill it's possible but difficult to match the quality of American Frame (and many others, I'm sure). And when you try 8-ply museum board at $40/sheet and screw up--that part's almost certain--it hurts. Mail-order acrylic is cheaper and more accurately cut than I can get locally, too.

American Frame is quick, reasonable, has never made a mistake in my orders, and offers a wide variety of boards and frames. For exhibits, I have a set of frames with just two or three window sizes, and I swap out my standard size prints. Helps to keep some variety on my own walls, too.

No connection with American Frame; just a customer.



CUclimber
Registered: Aug 02, 2005
Total Posts: 141
Country: United States

I have had good results from FrameDestination (http://www.framedestination.com/). They have a good mat selection and it is easy to size a complete package.



Dennis M 1064
Registered: Jun 29, 2012
Total Posts: 421
Country: United States

As far as glass goes, the non reflective glass available at the frame shops (or Michaels) costs a friggin fortune! You can get non reflective glass cut to size from a glass supplier for a lot less. A lot! Portland Glass was less than half the price of frame shops.

I got a nice compound miter saw, but you can't use the blade it came with. You would need a good quality finish blade.

Same goes for the table saw. A dado pack would be convenient but if you preplan, measure twice, you can handle it without the dado blade set up. You would need to make two cuts instead of one. That is also dependent upon the edges of your frame. You would need two square edges. If you have some wavy edge, you would need the dado to rabbet the back of your stock.



rogers160
Registered: Nov 01, 2004
Total Posts: 100
Country: United States

It depends on how many picture frames you need per year and what the value of your time is. The more you do yourself the more time it will take. Even though I happen to own a picture frame company (Frame Destination) I have never actually cut a mat by hand. It was never worth my time, and when I had spare time I would rather be out taking pictures or marketing my business. Things that would provide me more value for my time. I purchased our mats pre-cut in high volume until I could get a computerized mat cutter.

I have run the numbers and if you can buy pre-cut mats in qty of 25 from an online supplier you get a huge discount and then your savings ends up being in the cents per mat if you buy your own sheets and cut them yourself. However, if you like to use lots of different sizes and want to use the drops it may make more sense to cut yourself.

If you are going to be cutting many mats nearly every day like a custom framer then it will be well worth your money to get a professional mat cutter like a $1200 C&H as opposed to say a $250 Logan. Sure you can cut a good mat with the lower cost cutter but it will take more time. Of course if you are not worried about quality then you can save time & money. Some people are not very good at hand cutting mats and I notice this at galleries all the time. If you get higher end gear it takes less time to produce a quality product and you produce a high quality product more consistently.

We use to get complaints every now and then about our acrylic being a 1/16 of inch off and not being perfectly square. We were cutting it by hand on wall cutters or panel saws. I upgraded to a computerized rail saw that can perform a single 10 ft long cut with a pneumatic rail holding the acrylic making it impossible to move during the cut. It is accurate to nearly 1/100 a degree. Now unless the operator keys in the wrong value our customers are happy every time.

Nice thing about framing your own stuff is you just cut the frame to 1/8 inch larger than the contents and you can be off +/- a 1/16 inch on your mat, backing and glazing and everything will fit just fine.

If you want to cut your own picture frame moulding you will need to see if you have a good local supply for moulding because it typically comes in 8-12 foot length. You cant ship most of it ground which means you have to have it sent via freight. If you are not getting a few thousand feet the shipping cost might be more than the moulding cost. If you buy it chopped but not joined then you dont have to worry about the size for shipping.



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