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Does anyone make their own frames?

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  • Does anyone make their own frames?

    Just curious really. I keep thinking of going on a course to learn how to make picture frames so that I could make frames for the framed portraits I sell. This would give me better control over the quality and I think I'd enjoy doing it.

    A lot of the frames I use are unusual sizes (based on the images clients want to appear together, usually very long & thin)

    But...I suspect by the time I've bought any equipment I need & the raw materials, it's probably not much cheaper than buying them from the local framers (who are usually very good, but have given me frames i've rejected once as the corners were terrible & take a week to make them, thus adding to the lead time for the clients). I do portraits.

    What do you do about frames?

  • #2
    DH used to make mine, we had the mitre cutter and underpinner etc, along with the mount cutter (which I kept) but to be honest I found that the frames readymade form Hobbycraft were of a good quality and well done, plus you can sort through them to check. Got the glass from a local glazing firm and it ended up being a lot better than making them. Having said that if you want unusual shapes and sizes making your own is a good way to go but we did not do enough to justify continuing, plus my moulding supplier closed down and another firm were reluctant to sell to diy framers.


    • #3
      I used to try and make mine but it is so easy to go wrong, the mitred corners really have to be perfect.
      If you're pretty capable with woodcraft have a go, but unless you want something really unusual or high end, it's probably cheaper to buy the frames. - Pretty soaps, candles, bath and gifts.


      • #4
        My BF is keen to make some for me, so we'll see how they turn out, I got some frames from IKEA a while back, just for show purposes, wasnt planning on selling them, but a couple of ppl wanted them! then I saw the EXACT same frames in a local store belonging to a national retailer for 4x the price!!

        not sure we will be able to make them that cheap but we will see!


        • #5

          I recently started a job at a framers/gallery but not sure if I can really give you any advice.

          I don't know what difference there would in the equipment needed for commercial or at home work but it looks like you need quite a few big expensive tools.

          What they have is:
          • a very large mount cutter (maybe a small bevel mount cutter would be ok, I saw one in Hobbycraft for about £10, you would need a steady hand)
          • a glass/mdf/perspex cutter (I think glass can be cut by hand with a blade and then snapped, B&Q will cut mdf backing board for you if you ask)
          • a machine that cuts the moulding (not sure what it's called and don't know what alternative there is to this piece of equipment)
          • a machine that puts staples into the corners
          • a type of gun that puts staples into the back of the frame to hold everything in

          Once you had the right equipment it really wouldn't take long to make a frame. If you had to spend lots of money I'm not sure it would be worth it unless you only used very high quality mouldings like oak because then you are offering a unique bespoke product.

          If you buy the cheaper mouldings then I would think you may as well buy the frame ready made and spend money and time on the presentation of the frame, like taping it nicely and using furry pads on the back etc.

          I think at the end of the day, if you can make more money by offering a higher quality product without reducing your profits(much) then go for it! But can you convince your customers to shell out, or will they even notice/appreciate the difference between a handmade frame and an ikea one?

          I don't think it would save you money, but it could potentially make you money... if that makes sense
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          • #6
            I used to do picture framing, and agree with the above comments, you would need a quality underpinner and mitre saw, a mount cutter, a selection of mouldings and mountboard, glass, backing board and their respective cutters . . .

            One thing you may be able to do to save a little money is to purchase the cut glass, backing and frame from the framer and invest in a quality stapler and some wide masking tape. It was the building up of the frames that took the time and really added to the price, and by doing this yourself you should get any reject frames sorted quicker (it doesnt take long at all to cut and pin them!)

            It is also possible to touch up any less than perfect corners with felt tip pens (the thick berol ones are great!) or some gilt cream for gold/silver - you could maybe negotiate a discount on some slightly less than perfect ones and 'fix' them easily!

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            • #7
              some great feedback & interesting ideas there. Thanks. I'll let you know if I do decide to take it any further.