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Thread: Advice on setting up a frame shop

  1. #1
    True Grumbler
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    Default Advice on setting up a frame shop

    Gretting Grumblers. I am new here and new to setting up a frame shop, but not new to framing. I worked at a well-respected gallery framing for 10 years about 10 years ago, so I am very familiar with the process, just behind on the times.

    Let me explain a little bit about the shop I am wanting to set up.

    I am a printer for several successful artists who sell limited edition art prints and I need to construct frames for many of these prints. I'm looking at making batches of about 50-150 frames for each run, and this would happen several times a year.

    I am not going to be open to the general public in the sense that anyone can walk in and get a picture framed, although I might do that in the future, for now I will SOLELY be creating groups of frames for these print runs, but I might need to make some random one-offs for art shows here and there.

    I would also like the ability to cut the thick fancy, ornate, guilding-looking frames that a lot of artists are asking for nowadays.

    All that taken into consideration, can you guys give me any good advice to point me in the right direction?

    I have access to a 700 sq. ft. space that I can rent for a shop. Would this beenough room? I'm envisioning 300 sq. ft. devoted to woodworking and physically making the frames, and the other 400 devoted to assembly of the frames as well as shipping and receiving.

    For equipment I have been eyeballing a Brevetti Prisma saw as well as a Casesse CS 299 underpinner. Do these seem like good choices considering what I'm going for? or are they overkill? I know I need other items such as a wall cutter and a mat cutter, but those are things I have easy access to and aren't much of an investment, so I'm not too concerned with them at the time being.

    Also, if someone could recommend good moulding distributors in or around Los Angeles, I would appreciate it. I would be ordering in bulk once I found the right kind of moulding for the prints.

    Thanks.
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  • #2
    SPFG Supreme Picture Framer God Dave's Avatar
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    Welcome to the Grumble, sesshin. I'm sure you'll find you travels here rewarding.

    I can't comment on the equipment selection because I'm still using the saw and Morso that our shop used in the '60s and am not up to speed on the latest and greatest.

    I would think that 700 SF would be quite adequate for your initial enterprise but too cramped if you do decide to open to the public.

    You should be able to negotiate well with a variety of suppliers around L.A. and for the quantities you are proposing. You might want to consider having the vendor chop the frame which you ought to be able to negotiate at no cost or minimally over the length price. This would remove the necessity for the short run of buying some of the equipment and allow more space for other operations. It also would allow for "cleaner space" to fit in.

    You could also outsource the joining and just deal with the glazing and fitting operations.

    See what a vendor will do for you and you may not have an outlay for some of the capital equipment and spend less time with the operation and maintain a better fitting environment.

    Or ...if so inclined, negotiate your best price on length and go forward as proposed.

    Just wanted to make that suggestion for you to evaluate.
    Dave Makielski


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  • #3
    True Grumbler
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    Thanks for the suggestions!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave View Post
    You might want to consider having the vendor chop the frame which you ought to be able to negotiate at no cost or minimally over the length price. This would remove the necessity for the short run of buying some of the equipment and allow more space for other operations. It also would allow for "cleaner space" to fit in.

    You could also outsource the joining and just deal with the glazing and fitting operations.
    I thought about that but just really have the urge to build everything myself. I'm pretty anal about quality control and trying to make the perfect product. I just wouldn't feel right outsourcing something like that, especially since I'm already somewhat adept at it.

  • #4
    CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level II
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    If you do decide that purchasing a saw is what you really want to do, I have the Brevetti Prisma, and I absolutely love it.
    Susan L. Young

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  • #5
    PFG Picture Framing God j Paul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sesshin View Post
    I'm pretty anal about quality control and trying to make the perfect product. I just wouldn't feel right outsourcing something like that, especially since I'm already somewhat adept at it.

    Even if you order chops, you'll still have plenty of hands on in producing the perfect product. Sometimes chops (yours or theirs) need some fine tuning to get a perfect mitre. Even a perfect mitre can be screwed up if you don't underpin it properly. The bigger more ornate mouldings are harder to join than simple profiles. It wouldn't be a defeat, ordering chops.

    Quite a few frame shops for one reason or another order chops. No expensive equipment / less insurance / less S.F. needed / less waste / the list goes on and on!

  • #6
    PFG Picture Framing God Val's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sesshin View Post
    I thought about that but just really have the urge to build everything myself.
    Ah, you'll get over that! Give it some time!

    I've learned that although doing the entire job "by myself" is rewarding, when things start to pile up around my ears, I have no guilt in ordering some things chopped....even joined. That's saved my hiney more than once....and enables me to concentrate on the more difficult aspects of a project, shadow boxes, for instance.
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    PFG Picture Framing God PaulSF's Avatar
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    I have those two pieces of equipment, and find that they work pretty well. I call my Brevetti the "BFS5000" (all you Doom fans will know what I mean). It's 500 lbs. of Italian heavy metal. If you set the BFS5000 up against the wall, it doesn't take up much of your floor space at all. It's going to be more than enough for just about any moulding you will be working with (unless your artists are from a different planet than the artists everyone here is familiar with). Ditto for the Cassesse.
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  • #8
    MGF Master Grumble Framer
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    I don't think you are overkilling it. Chopping your own frames will easily make up the cost of your saw(there's at least one brevia for sale on this site right now btw) especialy in the quantities you will be buying your moulding in. Box pricing on moulding is infinitely less expensive than chop pricing when you are looking at doing 50-150 of the same frame.

    One thing to concider is that a saw, even with a vacuum system will create quite a bit of dust. If your space needs to be fairly free of dust you need to be able to section the saw area off from the other part of the shop. I have used thick plastic sheeting to accomplish this with some success.
    Life is like picture framing. There are always hangups.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brian..k View Post
    I have used thick plastic sheeting to accomplish this with some success.
    Just a quick thought. Fine wood dust + Plastic Sheet + Static discharge from plastic to a ground could equal a big explosion and fire.

  • #10
    MGF Master Grumble Framer
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    Sounds like a mythbuster experiment to me. Lets try it.

    That's more science than I know. If that can happen then you shouldnt dp as I suggested but that sounds like a fairly long odds possibility to me.
    Life is like picture framing. There are always hangups.

  • #11
    Grumble Moderator Team wpfay's Avatar
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    That's why they put grounding wires in the dust collection systems...to avoid the big boom.

    I have a Brevetti Prisma Maxi with a Grizzly 2hp dust collector. I would no more have these in the same room as the fitting was done than I would fly to the moon. Remember...if you are going to be shipping a lot of framed art, you will be handling a lot of acrylic glazing. Even in a clean shop this is a challenge.
    If you could somehow isolate the dirty and clean aspects of the production, then maybe, but I don't know if you can do it in that amount of space.

    I will reccommend the Brevetti saw and the Tenryu blades that are now standard.
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    PFG Picture Framing God PaulSF's Avatar
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    I wish I had a clean room. I try to work with plexi early in the day, before I do any cutting. Or I'll do it on a day when I'm not using the BFS9000.
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  • #13
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    Thanks for the input. Yeah I do plan on having the area with the saw be seperated from the area I'm assembling frames in. Its a blank space and I can put up drywall anywhere I like.

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    Grumble Moderator Team wpfay's Avatar
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    Make sure you give yourself enough space to turn a full stick (10 feet) of moulding end to end.
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    Good lighting is a must.

    and... Welcome aboard.

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    CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level II
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    Quote Originally Posted by brian..k View Post
    I don't think you are overkilling it. Chopping your own frames will easily make up the cost of your saw(there's at least one brevia for sale on this site right now btw) especialy in the quantities you will be buying your moulding in. Box pricing on moulding is infinitely less expensive than chop pricing when you are looking at doing 50-150 of the same frame.

    One thing to concider is that a saw, even with a vacuum system will create quite a bit of dust. If your space needs to be fairly free of dust you need to be able to section the saw area off from the other part of the shop. I have used thick plastic sheeting to accomplish this with some success.
    I have a DustDog vacuum/filtering drum tied into the saw, along with a ceiling-hung air filter. These do really well to keep dust to a minimum in a constrained space. More money to spend, but much less of a dust issue.

    I am able to operate the saw in the same 800 sq. ft. workroom as the vacuum press and the fitting table. We do isolate opening the press from running the saw days, unless we've filtered the air and taken a break between the two tasks.
    Susan L. Young

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  • #17
    SPFG Supreme Picture Framer God Baer Charlton's Avatar
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    700'...... yeah... go for it.

    Personally, in that small of an area, I would never bring a sawdust monster and expect anything but headaches.

    First, you might seek out some professional help with the control/anal issues... joking or serious... it doesn't matter. You are looking to be a one girl shop.... partner with someone like Philip LaMarsh at Griffen Moulding where you buy box... but he chops and joins and warehouses your moulding.

    Focus on the finish work, where your anal retentive skills are most needed.

    CMC or 60" line cutter will take up space. . . . and it all needs to be clean.

    50-150 doesn't sound like much until you have 50 4" goopy gold 20lb frames stacked in 4 stacks 5' high and 40"x60"..... that's 80 square feet just in itself.... oh, I'm sorry... I forgot.. you were still making the other 100 frames.. that is 300 square feet with just barely walk around room.

    CMC and work space takes up 60 square..

    4x8 work tables suck up 94 square feet each.... how many did you expect?


    My serious suggestion would be to imagine the things you are expecting to put into this space.

    Then draw out on an oversized matboard a 1"=1' grid. Make mock up equipment with work room.... and 20" isn't work room.... the Human Factors Design Handbook calls for a minimum clearance of 28" and best at 32". . . especially if you are swinging mat boards and frames. [I wont even mention glass which by the way... a lift of glass (40x60) takes up 4'x8' of space but that doesn't include a wall cutter.]

    Build all of the little tables and CMCs and chairs and benches, and compressor and storage units and . . . . .

    Stick them all on your plan-0-graph...... then make a "saw room" and see where that was going to go....

    Then call around about getting the frames done for you.

  • #18
    CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level II
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    Regarding floor space constraints: you need so much more than you would think you would to move people and materials and product around.

    My 800 sq. ft. workspace is very tight, but works for now because I have a vacant storage area (1200 sq. ft) next door to me to store length, joined frames, boxes of foamcore that aren't being used right away, and finished product.

    Cutting/joining frames and handling/storing length moulding gobbles up a lot of space.

    That said, I do love having the saw. Just factor in the costs associated with running a saw. Good luck!
    Susan L. Young

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  • #19
    Grumbler in training Gurduloo's Avatar
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    I'm curious - why has no one suggested a guillotine chopper instead of a big monster electric saw?

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