An adventure into framing.

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#1
I decided to re-frame some prints recently. They're 23-year old Fuji C-types, and they've held up well with no sign of fading, hung indoors but obviously out of direct sunlight. Well you wouldn't do that, would you?

So I machined some seasoned wood to a simple frame section. Now I wasn't about to buy even a foot-operated Morso (about £2,500 new) to trim the mitres. I used my chop saw (of worthy make and well adjusted) with a negative-rake multi-tooth blade. So far so good.

My scheme was then to slot the mitres and connect them with glued splines. When hung, the mitres carry the weight of the frame content, so have a certain strength requirement. This I did. The splines are visible on the outside of the frames, and I used a different wood to that of the frames, to make them explicit - a 'feature'.

Given that I already had the prints in mounts along with backing boards from the old frames, that was more or less it.

But being enthused, I decided to carry on and make some more frames, get more prints done in pigment ink on Hahnemuhle paper and frame them.

Which meant that I'd need mounts and other stuff. I'd previously cut a few mount apertures at 90 degrees with a Stanley knife, but the process didn't really cut the mustard. So I needed a mount cutter. What to get? A Logan (c £150 and up) or a Longridge (c £250 and up)? There wasn't much (used) on eBay with a decent cut-length or a good price and a courier option. But hang on. They come attached to a backing board. Maybe I can do without that, or make my own.

So I found a Logan guide rule (just over a metre, with cutter head & 5 blades) new for about 65 quid.

It's fine, it's good. I'm not setting up a commercial framing shop. I'll attach it to a baseboard of 18mm birch ply as a portable cutting station.

Longridge blades (held to be superior) will fit in the Logan holder. So a pack of those. Next - mountboard - thousands of choices! Ok - Arqadia - a quiet white. Conservation grade.

And having nowhere sensible to store uncut glass, I'll get a small stack of nothing more exotic than 2mm float cut to measure for my frames. Museum glass being a great fantasy but way beyond my budget.

Tape to hang the picture in the mount - Abaca self adhesive. Not cheap but 45m will go a long way.

So here we go - the show is on the road.
 
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#3
look forward to seeing the frames made up then.
Well you could knock on my door but I might not let you in. Surely you can imagine a picture frame? I felt that the interest was in the thought processes involved.

Plenty of people will see them, I'm not shy about that.
 
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#6
When you machined the wood to a frame section, was that using a router to make the rebate where the glass, picture and backing board sit?
 
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#7
was that using a router
Spindle moulder with rebate head in my case. If you were to use a router, you'd want it housed under a table and work above it with a fence and guard, though such things are easily made from scraps.
 
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#8
Today, between other things, I've looked out a backing board for the mount-cutting rail, and I'm trying to work out how I'll attach rail to board. Of course it'll have to lift to allow the mount card underneath, then be able to be pressed down whilst the cut's made.
 
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#9
This shows one of the four identical corners of an adjustable frame clamp that I use for initial glue-up. I made two of these to boost production. Something similar can be bought, or there are other forms, including strap clamps with corner pieces.

frame-clamp.jpg
 
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#11
And here's a wider frame section of similar thickness in brown oak (with some workshop dust still adhering - where's my brush?).

oak-mitre.jpg
 
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#12
The procedure is to cut the mitres, then glue-bond them as cut and leave each frame in a clamp till the glue's cured. It might take 5 - 10 minutes for the frame sections to be assembled and the clamps tightened, so a glue with an open working time of at least that is needed. They should then be handleable with care, though the bond is compromised by being on end-grain. The next stage is to slot them using a (home-made) jig on a circular sawbench or spindle moulder. A router inverted in a table and fitted with a slotting blade could work, but wouldn't have the reach for wider frame sections.

Then the frame is clamped in a vice, with each mitre in turn pointing upwards whilst its pair of glued splines is tapped home, the splines having been thicknessed to provide a light interference fit but being over-sized in the other two dimensions.

When the glue's dry, the projecting surplus material of the splines is sawn off and sanded flush.

As ever, there are variants to the method.

The splines will always be visible even if of the same wood, so must be accepted as a design feature.
 
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#13
Had some joint failures after initial glue-up. Epoxy, it seems, is no better than PVA. Of course my mitre cuts are suspect, and it's maybe a pity that a Morso is out of my league.

But it's working out ok - the joints are good when splined - and I'm halfway through my final batch of frames (for now), of a different size and of a different wood (birdseye maple).

Another hassle has been that having chosen Point101 as my print provider, their Flash-based file uploader seems to be deeply flawed. So that's another work in progress, but I'm on the case.

Choosing mountboard is another task.
 
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#14
Here's the mount cutter. The metre-long guide rule is on an 18mm birch ply support board 1000 x 600, and is captive but can move vertically to accept waste card backing (or Longridge Sprint Mat) and the mount being cut. I'm experimenting with springing under the guide rail so that it self-lifts for new insertions, but the spring compression strength is a sensitive thing to gauge.

The rail posts are M8 bolts. The screwed-on strip of pine is a positioning fence at 90deg to the guide rail.


board.jpg board-us.jpg
 
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#15
Interesting read, and I really like the look of the frames. The splines as a feature look great. I’ve mounted my prints for a few years now, but doubt I’d have the skill to attempt frames!

Simon.
 

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#16
Had some joint failures after initial glue-up. Epoxy, it seems, is no better than PVA. Of course my mitre cuts are suspect,

Have you tried Gorilla Glue? I've found that it fills small gaps better than either PVA wood glue or Araldite type epoxy. Another option would be Cascamite - Dad used to use it on all his boat and exterior woodworking projects. I use bamboo pins through the corners of less than perfect mitres - using skewers for the pins.
 
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#17
Have you tried Gorilla Glue?
Which is PU, I think? No, but on my last batch I used Titebond ii (a PVA) which worked pretty well. Given that this first glue-up (of the bare mitres) is just to hold things together whilst the frames are slotted and splined, a long-term bond isn't the aim. I've eschewed Cascamite (urea formaldehyde) so far, but the options are legion!
 

ChrisR

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#18
Just be careful with Gorilla Glue; we used some on soles of my wife's shoes, and it expanded horrendously! (Expanding was the point, but we didn't anticipate quite how much.) Bit of experimenting before you risk ruining one of your wonderful frames.
 
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#20
Just be careful with Gorilla Glue; we used some on soles of my wife's shoes, and it expanded horrendously! (Expanding was the point, but we didn't anticipate quite how much.) Bit of experimenting before you risk ruining one of your wonderful frames.
It carves/sands pretty well on wood. And it's sort of wood coloured when dry.
 
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#21
Interesting read, and I really like the look of the frames. The splines as a feature look great. I’ve mounted my prints for a few years now, but doubt I’d have the skill to attempt frames!
Thanks Simon! I'm pleased with how my mount cutter's working, what are you using?

My original motive in posting was to encourage others - not necessarily to mimic my exact methods, but maybe just to grasp the nettle and have a go.

Ready-made frames can be bought cheaply enough, even in real wood, so maybe there's not much incentive. In my case I could use some nice (and different) woods that I had to hand. I've just done a few in birdseye maple. But there's another advantage - being able to produce bespoke sizes.

Off-the-peg frame sizes (allowing for a mat border) don't always lend themselves to a given image proportion. Most of my images are natively 3:2 - it's one thing to put such an image into a 500 x 400mm frame and I've done that lots, but try putting a bigger version into a 700 x 500 frame and it doesn't quite work.
 
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#22
It carves/sands pretty well on wood.
We look forward to seeing your mixed-media carvings at the upcoming Pendle artshow, Dave. And possibly in some ethnographic museum of the future in a post-apocalyptic Clitheroe?
;-)
 
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#23
We look forward to seeing your mixed-media carvings at the upcoming Pendle artshow, Dave. And possibly in some ethnographic museum of the future in a post-apocalyptic Clitheroe?
;-)
That's given me some ideas. :D
 
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#24
Love reading stuff like this, very impressed with your efforts in post 10 :)
 

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#28
Black light. Is that not darkness?
"A blacklight (or often black light), also referred to as a UV-A light, Wood's lamp, or ultraviolet light, is a lamp that emits long-wave (UV-A) ultraviolet light and very little visible light. " (Wikipedia)

Hence the possibility of strange luminances! Like a nylon shirt in an early 60's disco ...
 
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#29
Apparently very handy for spotting golf balls after dark (as well as seeing joint lines where repairs have been made using GG!)
 
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#31
Really interesting thread, I think the frame making is maybe a touch too far for my banana hands but good reading. I like the mount aspect, I can feel myself getting an urge to invest in a cutter
 
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#32
Looks greats, agree this thread is really interesting. I used to make frames at a studio I worked at for a time, they were made using an underpinner and were much more utilitarian. Can see the effort put into these, love the brown oak one most.
 
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#33
Really interesting thread, I think the frame making is maybe a touch too far for my banana hands but good reading. I like the mount aspect, I can feel myself getting an urge to invest in a cutter
Thanks Alan. For cutting mounts I'm convinced that having the guide rail mounted on a board is the way to go, it gives more control with less effort.

The Logan mat cutters are precise (certainly on standard 1.4mm mountboard), and durable enough for low volume production - and you can buy the rail and cutter alone and save some cash. But then I had an offcut of birch ply to hand, and suppose that if you had to buy that in (cut to size at B&Q?) the advantage is less.

Looks greats, agree this thread is really interesting. I used to make frames at a studio I worked at for a time, they were made using an underpinner and were much more utilitarian. Can see the effort put into these, love the brown oak one most.
Thanks Jonathan. I would like a Morso but I'm fairly poor and life is short. My saw-cut mitres are good enough for exhibition, though!
 
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#36
That's good news, a couple I saw were around £500. But also collection only, which would mean hiring a van for the day ...
You wont get many people willing to ship them, they are just heavy, they would need to be pallet shipped.
If you buy one, check there is not excessive play in the head slides ( vertical and horizontal ),
as excessive play will result in bad cuts.
 
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#37
check there is not excessive play in the head slides ( vertical and horizontal )
I might expect those aspects to be adjustable, is that not so?

But if I saw one I'd be able to make an assessment, I'm used to assessing and commissioning machinery.
 
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#38
I might expect those aspects to be adjustable, is that not so?

But if I saw one I'd be able to make an assessment, I'm used to assessing and commissioning machinery.
They have a very small amount of adjustment, but if they are well worn, its a machining job to get them back to servicable condition,
if the previous overner(s) havent bothered lubricating them they do wear.
 
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