Sunday, 7 August 2016

Can I Make My Own Frames?

The high cost of getting work framed these days can push the price tag of our paintings quite high. While this may not be a problem for established artists who can command a good price for their work, it can be quite a problem for us lesser known amateurs.

The last work that I had professionally framed, though quite a small painting, cost me more than the overall value of the price tag that I could put on the work! I mean, don't get me wrong, my current framer makes a fantastic job of framing my artwork, but maybe I should look at doing some things differently?
I have on occasion bought second hand frames from car boot sales and re-painted them, with some success, though to be honest, most frames at a car boot can be in a pretty rough state, and getting one the right size, often difficult.

My other line of thinking was, could I make my own frames from scratch? Whilst I am pretty handy at woodwork, this could prove quite a challenge. In fact, it really did with my first efforts!

Fig1. Cross section of how I frame my oil paintings done on board
The kind of frames that I thought that I might be able to make myself, are the ones that house my oil paintings done on 6mm MDF board. Not sure what these type of frames are called, but they are made from simple lengths of timber with a rebate down one edge, where the board is inserted at the front.

 My first two attempts to cut a rebate from a length of timber failed miserably! First using a router, then using a hand rebating plane - nearly took my finger off with the router and couldn't keep a straight cut with the plane! The resultant length of timber went back in the garage and I thought that it was time to give up.
A couple of days later, I had a brainwave! What about the wood yard just down the road - surely they have the equipment to rebate a length of PAR timber? My thinking turned out to be good, as the young lad in charge of the woodworking equipment was only too happy to help, and in about five minutes, had done a perfect job for me with a 3.6m length of timber. The charge for this at the till was an amazing £4.00! Fig1. shows how the softwood was cut to accommodate the board.

Fig2. frame pieces cut ready for assembly.
My next task was to cut the timber to the correct lengths using a mitre saw. Fortunately, I have both a power and a precision hand mitring saw, though the power one didn't have a fine enough blade, so had to do this by hand. It took some practice to make a satisfactory cut at first, but a few lengths later I'd got it weighed up. See fig2.

With all the frame pieces cut, how on earth was I going to hold all this together? I could just glue the ends together, use some sort of clamps maybe, but how strong would that be? Time to look on t'internet I thought. After a while, it was Amazon to the rescue - within a couple of days, a super-dooper, all bells and whistles, picture framing kit landed in my front porch! What a fabulous piece of kit - within a few minutes, after making a test corner, I had the first frame made, with lovely wedges driven into the corners and glued for good measure.

The finished frames
The initial rebate proved to be slightly small, but a few days later, I had several lengths made with a modified rebate and framed some more paintings. These frames were given two coats of gesso by brush, followed by a good quality, white spray paint.
I have to say that the finished frames look super and easily good enough for exhibition purposes, so the answer to the question "Can I Make My Own Frames", is for this type of frame yes.