Equipment Recommendations


Grumbler in Training
Mar 10, 2004
My wife and her mother have owned a frame shop for about 8 years. Without "any" marketing their business has grown to a level that they cannot handle it alone. I have decided to join them on a full time basis to see if we can grow the business more. I am sure this will be my first of many posts.

Our major obstacle to sales growth is the process we use to join frames. We currently cut moulding using a Dewalt mitre saw with a Phaedra frame system. We then join the frames with glue and
a vice. This is obviously too slow.

I am not satisfied with the Dewalt saw and would like a recommendation for an entry level double-mitre saw.

Also, we have a used VN 2+1 underpinner that we have never used. I am considering having it refurbished or would it be better to look into a higher end machine?
You need to give us some more information so you can get better information from the group.

1. How many wood frames are you currently cutting and joining each week and this means frames made from footage you order in and cut and join yourselves.
2. How many metal frames are you cutting each week?
3. How many wood chops do you order each week from your suppliers?
4. How many chopped and joined frames do you order each week?
5. How many metal chops do you order each week from suppliers?
6. How close are your three main distributors and do any give you free delivery?
7. What is your capital expenditure budget?
8. What is your gross sales goal for the next 12 months and the following 12 months

I am sure others may ask different questions, but this is the information I would need before formulating any suggestions.

Alan gave you a number of good questions. I'd suggest that you dust off the underpinner and begin using that to save some time. If you are getting acceptable cuts now you can cut, glue and run them through the underpinner without using the vise. Much faster.

I don't know if there is an "entry" level double mitre saw. I recently got a Ledsome. It's a good, solid saw and the company is great to deal with. In Texas terms, they are probably just a little bit down the road from you. Before I got my saw I conversed with a few Grumblers who got Brevetti saws and are quite happy. I've used a Pistorious, and that's a good saw. It's probably going to boil down to how much cash you have to spend. I found that most people who did their research and made the investment are happy with their selection, but they probably can't give you a comparative assessment.

Get the underpinner going first. You'll pick up some speed.
We then join the frames with glue and
a vice. This is obviously too slow.
Does that mean that you are not using nails to hold the frames together while the glue drys? If go use nails to act as a clamp to hold the frame together as it dries. In the "old days" before an underpinner all frames were made this way. Production of over 100 frames a week was not uncommon for a shop by one person.
The quick fix to the double miter saw question would be to buy a matched set of power miter saws and hitch them to your Phaedra system (you may have to buy new grids for the beds of the Phaedra system since not all saws have the same base proportions). Get them dialed in and don't use them for anything but 45 degree miters. Framerguy has a tutorial about setting up these saws so you get excellent results. Check the search function for miter saws.
It sounds like you may not be using any mechanical fasteners in your joinery and that has been debated as well. Get the V-nailer going and you will speed up the process.
Yes, dust off the VN2+1 and put it to work. You won't need anything better until/unless you're building more than 10 frames a day.

The single-saw Phaedra system is not bad. I used one for my first fifteen years in business. I suggest continuing with that until you identify the perfect next step for your own business.

There's no such thing as an entry-level double miter saw. When you need one of those (or just want one), buy the best one for your purposes, with intentions of keeping it until you retire. That's how long it should last. The most expensive ones have more bells & whistles, but for a small independent framer, the extras probably would not justify trading up later.