Manual underpinner quality??


Grumbler in Training
Feb 18, 2004
I'm a photographer/woodworker. I don't produce a large number of frames per week (only 10-20). But enough that I'm thinking of getting an underpinner to save some time for other projects.

I understand you get what you pay for, and I also understand how much "production" plays a role in the worth of an underpinner for a high volume picture framer. It isn't worth it for me to spend $1,000 or more on a underpinner since I don't produce many frames.

So basically I'm wondering, do the inexpensive, manual underpinners actually lack "quality" AND "production". Can I still get a quality miter joint from the likes of Cassese CS79, Euro 8001, Mitre Mite?

You ask if you can get quality joins from an inexpensive underpinner. I don't think you can; I know we can't. We make between 30 and 50 frames a day but even if we only made 3 frames a day we'd still need a top quality joiner. The stronger the underpinner, the better joins it'll make. I like the Cassesse 486's (we use them for back ups). They cost considerably more than $1000 but they're worth every penny. You can figure they'll join 95% of what you feed into them (there's always going to be problems). I'd look for a used heavy duty machine and pay the price, after all, it'll be deductable. Warren
Buy the Euro butterfly manual machine....great results...very well respected in this part of the world.


[ 02-19-2004, 05:45 PM: Message edited by: Dermot ]
I used a foot operated Euro (8001?) for 12 years and found it a really good reliable machine. I bought it in 1988 and it cost roughly £600. I did have some problems with large frames but learned to overcome those. It was also mechanically simple and easy to maintain. I only changed to a pneumatic machine because of the volume of frames and knee problems after years of leg pushing.
Ang -
We use a Cassese CS89 (pneumatic) - I was originally going to get the foot operated under-pinner, but talking (via "The Grumble") w/ other framers & some suppliers convinced me to pay a little more for the pneumatic version.

The main reason I made this purchase was to make really good, tight, properly fit mitered corners.
We started w/ vices (not the type framerguy refers to ;) ) and gluing & nailing. We then tried the "wedging" or thumbnail method offered by our suppliers - it was okay, but sometimes the "wedging" was off and we would have to go back to the vice & nails to try to correct a bad joint - or worse, reorder the moulding which was a waste of time & money$$$.

The Cassese CS89 is a good unit, well built and will handle your volume as your business grows.

P.S. Welcome to the Grumble!
I can second what Mike says about the CS 88/89 machine. We have the 88 (foot-powered) that we bought when we were homebased years ago. We still use it every day in our store for quick joins and our readymades. Anything that won't fir in our thumbnailer gets vnailed on the underpinner. We have no complaints with it.
Hope that helps.

Ang: they do fine. Just remember some of the tips above and just like a foot chopper the harder the wood the more umph you need to use. Practice...practice...practice.
I went to the NY show specifically to look at underpinners. I have pretty much decided to get a manual underpinner (low production needs, not wanting to run compressor in retail environs).

I looked at the Cassese, the Mitre-Mite and one other oddball one I did not like. I see that Fletcher also has one (5500 Corner Pro), but I didn't get a chance to look at it.

Any current (or previous) owners able to give an opinion?


Sorry to bring this post back from the dead.
I'd look at used pneumatic as there are some great deals. Right now there's a Cassese CS-810 and a CS-89 on eBay both of which appear to be available for significantly less than $1K.

I got my CS-910 for under $1K on eBay about 6 months ago. It was in mint condition and came with about 10 boxes of wedges. Can't imagine how I got along without it despite the fact that my volume is very low (~10-12 per week).