Custom Picture Framing Update

Over the last few months, I have invested in some new equipment that will allow some new capabilities on wooden frames, offer more consistent results in mat board cutting, and more clearly set expectations on pricing and options.

Frame Recovery and Reduction

First things first. I realized that even with 100s of frames, that by itself, still provides limited options to any specific piece to be framed. It has to be in the appropriate style, color and in an appropriate size. Even with the first few customers, I noticed that while I had a lot of frames, it just wasn’t working. I needed to be able to provide more flexibility yet still leverage the large inventory of used high quality frames on the market via auctions, estate sales, thrift stores, and who knows where else. To this end, I decided I would start doing frame reduction on wood frames (not metal). I would remove the miter joints, cut them down to proper size for a piece of interest and then glue and V-nail them together. It’s a Logan V-Nailer and there are certainly higher-end ones out there, but this one worked out just fine and have no issues with it and can also use a biscuit cutter and wafer if needed. 

Frame Recovery is important to me and my business model and vision. Acquiring very low cost quality frames and then using them to provide highly affordable custom framing. Seems crazy….at least until you go to a framer and get a quote on framing some more than an 8x10.

Below are some pictures of my first frame reduction of a nice oak frame I found at Rummage Warehouse in Wilson, NC. They have tons of frames and you just have to dig and dig to find ones that have minimal damage and high quality.

Disassembled and miter to size

Glue and V-nail

End result

At some point I may make frames from scratch.

More Consistent Mat Board Cutting

The mat board cutter I have been using was a low-mid end Logan Simplex Classic 40” that I picked up at a JMS Estate Sale last year. Good price and got a lot of other supplies and it was great for learning, but it is now the limiting factor on getting to next level of perfection. I went ahead and went with the Logan 850 Platinum Edge 40”. There are other nicer ones from Fletcher and KeenCutter, but I am not at a point I can invest $3-5k in a mat board cutter and not even sure I will need it for a long while. Logan actually purchased another company with a professional high-end mat cutter and that is what this is. It is a full metal base with a ball bearing slide for the cutter. It’s a lot bigger than I expected it to be and heaver, even to the point I had to build a special table just for it.

Custom Framing Price List

I finally put together a Custom Framing Price List (Draft), mostly focused on frame recovery options. A work in progress, but will give potential clients and idea of what to expect. This will increase over time as my workload increases and I get more referrals out there. I don’t need to be full-time on this so as my workload increases, so will the prices (to a point, while still emphasizing the affordability). This approach is a common approach for framers starting out to essentially do early framing jobs for minimal profit and build over time.

General Tooling and Supplies

I wanted to raise the game on the tools and supplies I am using for the finishing part of the framing: mounting and dust cover. I have purchased some frame sealing tape which will be used for metal frames in addition to the black mat on the back I really like. I’ll try it out and see how it works. Also finally found some proper backing paper from Lineco and got a huge roll of it from B&H Photo - the roll is gray and acid-free so that will now be my signature color for dust covers on wooden frames.

I have purchased many of my normal supplies like mat board, backing board and odds and ends from Jerry’s Artarama, but I will not be using them any further….lets just say due to a difference in business philosophy. The main things I am working on to be able to find an appropriate selection through a single vendor is the Crescent Select mat boards. Due to the size of a full sheet, they are expensive to ship and may have to still use Jerry’s in a pinch. Frame Destinations has great customer service and selection and the pricing is good (not great, but I can work with it) although they don’t have the full selection of colors. There is also a black backing board that I get at Jerry’s which I haven’t found elsewhere yet and I primarily use this as a finishing backing on metal frames so the foam core is covered (like below).

Sourcing New Frames

I wanted to be able to have a good source for new frames and at a price that I can provide to customers. Custom Framing Solutions has a nice selection of 1000+ wooden frames and I have ordered 8 samples and am very pleased with the quality. At the end of the day, one has to realize that framing molding and metal frames such as Nielsen Bainbridge on the low end are expensive with a medium size picture in either frame style other than the lowest end will still be $50-75. The 24” x 36” Nielsen Profile 117 which I used on the Weaver Gallery Blown Away Porsche poster cost $90.

So, Custom Framing Solutions will sell me the wood molding in uncut form which I can then cut and miter for each appropriate job…this will probably take months to continue to refine on specific frames and maybe other vendors, but at least I have one that is less than excessive.

Every once in a while I get lucky at an estate sale and sometimes find a photographer or artist that did their own framing. When I find this, I usually buy up as much of the framing supplies as I can. Recently at a Steve Minor Estate Sale, I found 50-75 new frames in metal and wood in nice styles and got them all for essentially pennies. So between auctions, estate sales, occasional thrift store finds…the prospects are looking good. I just want to have the new frames as an option when nothing else fits the need…not as the primary source of frames.

So this gives you a view into how things are progressing with a focus on the Custom Framing side of SecondMoonshot. In addition, I am doing some more on Facebook and brand recognition as a lead in to a potential store front for the art and framing (and warehouse for eBay selling). I am not quite sure the world needs another vintage / antique store, but who knows. I also want to get my cars out of the storage unit and will use that warehouse to also store them. My neighbor (Ted Leiner of Leiner Kickboxing) got me interested in heat transfer presses and I have found that I can do some branding with lower cost heat transfers for T-shirts and other accessories….BUT also found that I can use that same heat press to do dry mounting of photos and prints/posters…this will probably happen sooner than later.

I am rambling….sorry.



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