chipped frame


Grumbler in Training
Aug 31, 2006
Carleton Place, ON
Hey there! How is everyone?
I just finished a framing job and noticed a small chip in one of the bottom corners of a wood veneered frame. I also noticed a few small chips at the joins (I get my frames assembled because i work out of my house). My question is should i try to match the color and just touch it up with a marker or should i see if they'll replace the frame, which means waiting more time, redoing the job etc. Is this something framer's usually do? (touch up. i mean) Is that professional? I honestly don't think anyone without a trained eye will notice.

Thanks! Mel.
I always try touching up first. Then, if it doesn't work very well, take the time to get it replaced. Trust me, just because a customer isn't a framer with a "trained eye", doesn't mean it might go unnoticed. If you noticed it, chances are, someone else will too.

In my opinion, when they pay as much for framing as they do, they deserve to get the best I can give them. Trust your gut feeling. That will make the difference between you and "the other guy".
Touch up is an everyday task for a framer. First notify the vendor of the frame and let them know of the damage. Tell them you are willing to try to touch up the frame, but if not successful, you'll need a replacement.

Each frame requires different methods for touch up and practice and experience will improve your chances of success. In general markers are not the best choice for most touch up because they are generally dyes that will alter in color over time and you don't have the ability to blend colors easily. Also, be aware that markers will be a different color on one surface compared to another.

If the nick is not too deep, I would recommend using oil colors. With oils, you can experiment freely and wipe off any unacceptable attempts. If the nick is deeper, you can try filling in the nick with wood putty mixed with a little wood glue to harden it. Smooth it out (fingers seem to work best for me), let it dry overnight and then touch up with oil colors.

When using oils, it often helps to let the oils dry for a few minutes and then wipe gently with a very soft cloth or your fingers or a combination of both.

Once the touch up is complete, let the oil color dry at least over night so it doesn't wipe off. Even after dry to the touch, you can remove the touch up with a little turp on a soft cloth if necessary.

Gold, copper and silver leaf frames can often be touched up with Treasure Gold, Rub n Buff, wood putty and metallic oils or a combiation of all of the above and any other needed materials on hand. I often mix wood puttys to simulate a surface. A very light stroke with your finger over a mar or unacceptable flaw in the leaf after mixing your concoction can often make an acceptable fix for leaf problems. Also, a semi-dry brush dipped in turp and brushed over the touched up area can smooth things out nicely. Of course, slight leaf marks are normal and are part of the beauty of leafed products.

Some use acrylics to try to touch up. Acrylics dry extremely quickly and do not allow for the experimentation and easy removability of oils.

Quite often, small scratches on smooth or glossy wood frames will disappear with a buffing of high quality furniture polish.

On metal frames, a light buffing with acetone will remove many mars unless there are deep scratches. I've saved many ugly looking metal frames this way.

Dave Makielski
I am ordering all chops at this time (no room for my saws in the shop) and I have never had a problem with notifying a distributor about a bad or chipped miter. They are quite willing to replace freight damaged or chipped legs. I have even accidentally dropped a frame leg in the shop, it happens, and have told the distributor about what happened in the course of re-ordering and I wasn't charged for the replacement leg.

Repairs are varied and many and Dave offered some good ones that most any framer can become proficient at doing. Chips out of veneers are particularly difficult to repair because of the nature of veneers and the unique type of grain and coloration of some of them.

I have to put in a small plug for 2 moulding companies at this time who I have NEVER received a bad chop from. I always considered (out of ignorance of their products) Wall Moulding to be a low end/plastic moulding supplier. I guess I got that impression from their cheap prices on most of their Decor ads through the years. I started using them about 6 months ago and I have found that they are very precise about their chops and I have not had a bad chop from them yet/so far. The other company I have been using since the late 80's and that is the Williamson Co. in Mt. Vernon, IL. I still get great chops from them and I give the Terry and Laura Shaubert 3 thumbs up for their consistent quality control and their chop shop who know when to change a saw blade!!

thanks everyone! after looking at it again, i have decided to just send the frame back, i spoke to my supplier and they said it shouldn't be a problem. But I'm sure the touch up ideas will be very useful in the future!
Last year I bought some veneered moulding and when I cut it (with newly sharpened chopper blades) there were numerous small chips along the cut edge.

The clear finish on the veneer was extremely hard and brittle, like glass and tiny pieces "shattered" off, no matter how I cut it.

I sent it all back and then threw out all the samples of those mouldings from two companies after discovering they were the same.

Some manufacturers seem to use modern finishes that are really impractical and unsuitable for mouldings.