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Author Topic: Picture Frames  (Read 3662 times)

msoomro

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Picture Frames
« on: June 16, 2014, 04:34:03 pm »

I am in market searching for sources for framing prints in volumes - few custom sizes.  Would appreciate knowing what others other are doing / using.

My current thinking is

(1) buying finished lengths and cutting frames myself
(2) very competitive sourcing preferably in Seattle area but open to any online
(3) ......   don't know what i don't know :-)


Any recommendation and thoughts...


Thanks
msoomro
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BobShaw

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Re: Picture Frames
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2014, 08:03:31 pm »

Hi,
Professional framing is a bit like professional photography. The gear to do it right costs a lot of money. There may be some framing course that you can do in your area.

You could cut the mouldings (timber pieces) yourself, but with what? If it is anything other than the highest quality mitre saw then it will pretty ordinary. I use a guillotine to cut them at 45 degrees. They are around $5000.

You can buy them already cut to size from someone who offers a "chop service". In other words, you specify the size and they send you the four pieces. Then you just need to join them.

To do that you need an underpinner. That drives the V nails in from the bottom so that you can see that they are in the right place before joining. Otherwise you have to turn the frame over and put them in from above using some sort of tool. That never looks right. An underpinner will cost you few more thousand.

Then you need to cut the glass. It comes in sheets 4 ft high so you need a medium cutter to cut glass, MDF, mat board and other materials. Around $3000.

Then you need to cut the mat board windows. You can buy cheap mat board cutters for a few hundred dollars that will last you until you decide that you are spending all day cutting a couple of mat boards and need a proper machine so about another thousand at least.

Then you need a few more things like a press to put the print on the adhesive foam core, a compressor possibly and a huge amount of space. A frame cutter is about 3-4 metres long and then you have the uncut length of frame moulding which is 3 metres that you have to feed in.

So if you don't want to do all that then I suggest a framer.

I am in Australia but you are welcome to check out my website at http://AspirationImages.com and you work your way through some framing examples.

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msoomro

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Re: Picture Frames
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2014, 12:18:44 am »

Thanks Bob.  This good info to help me make the right decision. :-)
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Colorado David

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Re: Picture Frames
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2014, 12:46:40 am »

I went through this same quandary some time ago.  I tried to think of every possible way I could make it work out to set up my own framing.  I've given up and will use framers.

msoomro

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Re: Picture Frames
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2014, 12:49:30 am »

I am leaning to the same conclusion. Where / how did you find good framers? Any tips in that direction ...thx
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Paul2660

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Re: Picture Frames
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2014, 09:14:08 am »

I would consider trying to find a few frame styles that you like and feel work well with your work.  Buy the frame in length and locate a local shop that will give you a chop/join cost.  Most places I use will charge me between 10 and 12 dollars for frames up to 30 x 40 and then 15 for a 36 x 72. 

I have 5 frame styles, 3 from Larson and 2 from Studio.  I buy them in sticks, usually 9 feet long and then transport them to the shop that chops and joins them.

I have worked on and off as a framer for 20 years also.  You can make the chop with a miter saw, but joining done well, really needs a V nailer and these cost as much as a new printer.  Plus it takes a bit of time to get used to a V nailer and it's really easy to ruin a good frame.  The old fashion method of 4 frame vises and drilling/nailing to me is way out of date and does not present a nice frame.  But you can do it yourself, for the cost of the Stanley or similar vises. 

If the shop you are looking to work with doesn't have a V nailer, I would move on.

Paul
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Colorado David

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Re: Picture Frames
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2014, 09:57:49 am »

I am leaning to the same conclusion. Where / how did you find good framers? Any tips in that direction ...thx


I had to decide how I could spend my limited time.  I have a lot of woodworking tools already and know how to work with wood, but framing requires additional space and specific tools and then time to become proficient as well.  I'd rather spend that time on other aspects of my business, like shooting or marketing.  I've used local area framers and pictureframes.com.  There is one size of frame I buy fairly regularly and wait for their special offers to buy.

msoomro

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Re: Picture Frames
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2014, 11:48:47 am »

Overall it looks like a lot of additional work that i can use for creating and printing new images nevertheless, continuing to debate buy vs. make for cost/margin consideration

I am starting to sell my images now (first time) and want to keep the cost of goods down without compromising quality of finish. I was at a art fair last weekend and got a sense of the prices people are selling framed images at. A 8x24 framed image was priced at $90. Not debating the image itself :-), the frame quality was quite good. My guess is the frame cost to seller would be somewhere around $14-$15 to make profit. And looking at prices of online stores selling custom frames this size is of frame is about $44.  To incorporate decent margin I will need to buy sticks and do my own or buy the sticks and get chop/joint done locally.  http://www.framing4yourself.com/ have good bulk pricing if I buy in 100ft lengths. My max frame sizes, for now, would be 12x36 or 18x36 depending on aspect ratio of images.

I have half decent wood working skills, space in garage, table saw, mitre saw, few clamps etc. I don't have V nailer. I saw one online (Logan F-300-1 Studio Picture Frame Joiner) for $149. Not sure how good it will be.
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louoates

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Re: Picture Frames
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2014, 06:50:24 pm »

Sadly, I have found that out of 100 photographers who mat and frame their own work, a very few are any good at it. The product ranges from mediocre to embarrassingly ugly. I see it so often at art shows that I can't help but ask the photographer if he framed "that" himself. The answer is usually highly defensive, citing many of the reasons discussed on this topic here. "I can't afford to have it done", "my customers won't pay for good framing", "I can't make any money if I have to have it done", blah, blah, blah. The net result is usually a frame and mat that poorly fits the image and guarantees a lower selling price.

I wish I had a good answer that fits everybody. Lots of solutions are mentioned here. And some would work out okay depending upon your skill level, time commitment, and honest appraisal of the final result. I  recommend you find a professional framer in your area who will work with you on price. They can buy materials in quantity much cheaper than you can, in most situations. But they will also have a computer-driven mat cutter for perfect cuts without a lot of waste. And they can truly size mats and choose colors much better than we can 90% of the time. I've gone to my framer many times with a particular idea of matting/framing in my head only to leave with a far more salable product.

I'm fortunate to have two highly skilled framers in my (Phoenix) area whom I use for all my work. One is a very high volume framing company I use for all show and exhibition work, the other for more critical customers with custom needs. I'd gladly share those sources with anyone in the Phoenix area.

I just remembered another benefit of using pro framer: Many times when my framer was finished he set it up in his store until I came to pick it up -- and HE sold another one to a customer.
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Picture Frames
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2014, 06:57:14 pm »

What about framing canvas, i.e., no mats, no glass? Not floating frames, just regular, wide, wooden frames. How easy, difficult is it to attached it to canvas prints? There are suppliers who ship pre-cut or pre-joint frames, so it only remains to fasten it to canvas. How difficult is that?

bill t.

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Re: Picture Frames
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2014, 08:11:14 pm »

That Logan underpinner is a cruel joke.  Or maybe a feckless toy.  You need a real one.  Fletcher, Amp, Cassesse and some of the other "real" framing equipment manufacturers can sell you a foot operated version for around $1k, don't leave home without one.  If you're serious, save up about $4,000 for a good air operated machine like an Amp VN-44 or a Fletcher 5700, and a few other worthy models.  Or use polystyrene moulding which, assuming you have a perfect glue joint, is only weakened by the addition of v-nails.

The company with the "4" in the name is a poor source for moulding.  You need to set up an account with a company like Omega Moulding which caters to the low end of the moulding market.  And you need to buy by the box, which typically contains anywhere from 8 to 24 sticks, in the range of 4" to 2" wide.  Or even better, buy at least 500 feet at a time which is where many manufacturers start to give you decent discounts.

It's difficult to justify framing for yourself unless you are producing pieces where the smaller dimension is larger than some minimum size, perhaps 20 inches.  The labor required is pretty much the same for any size of frame, so the bigger the frame the more you earn for your time.

And selling 8x24 pieces for $90 will keep your career grounded pretty much forever.

PS, it only took about 500 frames before I figured out how to cut and join large, wide frames perfectly every time.  Having reached that point, I can now build a frame for a mounted canvas in less time than it takes reach the end of my driveway, on my way to a framer.  That makes homebrew framing my absolute most efficient path to product.  But that didn't happen overnight.

[to do: insert paragraph about the very real possibility of chopping off one or more fingers while cutting miters]
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Colorado David

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Re: Picture Frames
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2014, 08:41:21 pm »

A friend of mine is a hand surgeon, but I don't ever want to see him in the ER.

msoomro

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Re: Picture Frames
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2014, 10:51:10 pm »

Thanks All. I'll start a thread looking for framers in Seattle area and go that route if i can find one.
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