Equipment/Business Questions

Harrison Howard

Grumbler in Training
Feb 13, 2006
San Diego
I am seeking advice from those willing to give it, but first a brief background. I am not in the picture framing business, but this site seemed a good place to turn for help. I am an artist with a line of 24 giclee prints, as well as originals, which require frames. I've spent much time weighing the option of buying my own equipment and making my own frames against establishing a relationship with a local frame business. I am leaning toward subcontracting the framing, but first I would like to get a better idea of what equipment would be really adequate for my needs if I opted to make my own frames. I would be sticking exclusively with a 1" bamboo moulding for all my framing, and no more than two colors of Crescent rag mat, plus plexigass for shipping purposes. The frame sizes range from 15" x 18" to 24" x 30" approx. It is all but impossible to project how many frames per month I would need, (many prints and paintings are bought unframed), but my best guess to start is only about ten, with a gradual increase each month as I establish more business with retailers.
Questions: 1)Would a mitre saw made for construction and cabinet work in the $400 -$500 range produce sufficiently accurate mitres, or are the specialized mitre saws made for the framing industry essential?
2) The entry level v-nailers for professional framers that I have looked at seem to start at about $1100, but there are much less expensive manual devices for do-it-yourselfers available from companies like Logan. What would be an adequate choice for a v-nailer in terms of the quality of the result, and what amount of time should be anticipated per frame? Although, I have no experience with picture framing, I have used tools extensively, and I have put many pictures in frames over the years.
The equipment costs, plus time,
become the deciding factors for me in choosing between subcontracting and making my own frames. The chop prices from moulding suppliers I have explored almost double the cost per foot of moulding and make that option not very attractive in my particular situation, even with volume discounts. I would be very grateful for any comments. Many thanks.
I'll try and take a stab at this. I am a professional artist. We also do custom framing. There was a couple reasons I got into the framing. One was the cost of having my work done the other because there wasn't any frames out there I was happy with. So after a lot of research (I also have a background as a cabinet maker) two years of carving every spare minute and a lucky break we went into the framing business also. The lucky break I mention was knowing a gallery that merged and I was able to buy all the equiptment for $2500.
Learning to frame can be quite time consuming. Also as a professional artist I might give you a word that might answer your question. The one difference between the struggeling artist and the one that is in the high rent district is PRESENTATION. Can you realisticly expect to turn out professional frames? The frames you mention are pretty common. Shop for a qualified framer and invest your time and money in what you do best. PAINT!!
Harrison Howard, welcome to the Grumble.

Good to see someone who stops to even consider contracting untill they build up a demand that out-strips the economy of sub-contracting.

you're half way there.

Call Rob Markoff at Gallery Services. He is also a grumbler, is in your neighborhood, and does exactly what you need.

You can also send him an email through the G. Go to Search (up on top of the page) then Directory, then Rob Markoff.
Through the bottom of my whiskey glass your name looked like 'Harrison Ford'

Haven't got any advice for you - just congratulations on picking the best place for it!