Artwork askew in frame package problem


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Jun 13, 2002
Fingerlakes Region of NYS
This happens occasionally - and it just happened this a.m.

A customer came back with a piece I framed for her about 2-3 months ago. They have had it hanging for a month, but being so busy, hadn't take time to bring it back in.

The artowrk is a b/w photo/poster with a title at the bottom. That is how the customer wanted it framed. No mat(s).

She said it is crooked. And I measured and it was off about 1/8". I explained that this can happen - and it does due to the humidity changes in the atmosphere... and today being a rainy day - it was tight as could be. Usually a little thump on the side will correct the askew problem. Not today. This one I had to take fully apart and refit.

My concern is that it will happen again.

Any ideas.... Thanx,

If there is too much play between the frame and the edge and it is slightly bumped, it can go askew. I'll often fix that by putting in a very narrow strip of balsa or bass wood to take up the slack. Also, depending on your backing, you can bear down with a little pressure when you put the poster in if you use brads. This secures the poster tighter in position.

Dave Makielski
Which leads me to the question: What is the preferred/correct allowance in the frame package?!? Perhaps I have been using a larger allowance than necessary!?
In addition to Daves suggestions, I often put a strip of Framer's Tape II, from LJ, over the brads. This helps keep things from moving around inside the frame.
I generally use Fletcher diamond shaped glazer’s points. Those are very easy to press down after they have been driven in.

My standard allowance is 1/8”.
Correct little as possible, but not so tight that you have to squeeze it in. Some allowance for expansion and contraction os paper and board needs to take place, but not so mauch that you have to purposely allow for it. Just don't make it so tight that you have to push it in.

Like Roz's idea of the Framers tape too.

Dave Makielski
I had a little different "askew" problem recently.

I had a limited edition on relatively heavy paper that we mounted to the backing with mylar corners. We then added the mat and finished as normal.

We put it in a tru-vue box and delivered it to a customer who was going to take it to the final customer (a friend of theirs about 50 miles away.)

About a week after delivery, we got an e-mail from our customer saying that when their friend opened it, the print was all askew in the frame. We've never had that happen before. I didn't think even turning the frame upside down would allow that to happen.

Whatcha think? Rough treatment between "here" and "there"? Or corners with too much "play"? (I really didn't think there was, but perhaps...)


If you used mylar on all 4 corners I can't see how regular handling would dislodge the print. I have never had a corner come loose from Artcare foamboard or any other "acid free" board without tearing the surface of the board away.

One possibillity that could have occured is the package could have been dropped and the print sheared through the corners. These mylar corners have gotten so thin lately that I wonder sometimes how much abuse they will take before tearing. The older corners were much thicker and had sort of a pocket in them to accomodate the art work. I haven't seen the thicker ones for a few years now and doubt that they will come back.

I would check the package over if they bring it back and see if there is any evidence of dropping, round spot on a frame corner, dent, etc., and check the mounting corners for damage.


The long accepted clearance for frames is 1/8". If you go much more than that the edge of the glass and mats won't be behind the rabbet of the frame on many mouldings. Your normal expansion isn't more than maybe a sixteenth of an inch so 1/8" is the norm for overcutting frame legs.

Thanks Tom, that's what I thought. I did use 4 corners, but the frame was "padded" within the box with newspapers top and bottom, so it could have been dropped without any damage to the outside of the frame.

They took it to a framer near his home for refitting. I really didn't want them to do that (never thought that I would be so "snobbish") but you just don't know what someone else will do to a print.

Oh well. Life goes on...

Sometimes the frame can create an optical illusion that the piece is crooked, even though it isn't.

A strong, angled grain in the wood can do it (hey, there's another reason why I don't like oak frames). So can diagonal ornament or carving. I had that problem with one of LJ's La Hacienda line.

Question: If you put framer's tape over the points to keep things from moving, doesn't that defeat the purpose of leaving an allowance in the frame?

Betty: What kind of corners were you using? I usually have good luck with the "3L" corners from United, as well as those made by University Products. Some of the ones I have gotten from Light Impressions (particularly the small-size ones) have come apart at their seams. These seem to be made of a harder, shinier, mylar-type material, rather than the softer material (polyethylene?) of the others. As to the former "thicker" corners, I think I read that these had some plasticizers in them, so were replaced with a more inert, although thinner, material. I find these new thinner ones a bit harder to work with, but they are apparently better for the art.
:cool: Rick

P.S.: I like to snip off the outer "point" of the corners before using them, so they don't bind the corners of the artwork. 3L's 3/4" corners are already made this way, but I snip the larger ones.
I'll have to look when I go out to the shop later or tomorrow, but they were the big ones from United. There was a lot of white border, so I had all kinds of room to use the biggest ones possible. And I'm sure they were a "name" brand and not a "store" brand.