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New to Framing - Creating Moulding on a Table Saw, Is it worth it?

Kasimir81

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Apr 12, 2020
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15
Hello everyone,

First I would like to say thank you to everyone who participates in this site. I am new to framing and it has been a great resource!!! Apologies if this question has been answered before but I did a search and could not see it.

Right now I work a full time job in corporate America and I am looking to transition into this business by start part-time in my own business supporting customer that I have from selling art. Mostly etchings, lithographs, poster from various artists spanning many genres. I currently sell them framed (already framed) and unframed. I have requests of people wanting some pieces framed and I also want to frame some for my own collection. I am at the point now where for larger pieces 40" x 40" and above where getting pre-made frames either cannot be shipped or the price is so much that it doesn't make sense financially profit wise.

My goal in the next 3 years is to expand the business to be a gallery, frame shop and small auction house for fine art (secondary market). Either way at this point I want to start doing work so when I get to that point I will have basics under my belt. What I want is a frame profile which is very simple that looks exactly like what you would see in a contemporary art gallery, .75" - 1.25" width with a simple rabbet and a depth (1" +/-) that will vary depending on how much I want to float the print or if it will be matted. I have taken frames apart and put them together, cut mats, hinged work and done a lot except raw cutting and joining.

My question is - If I were to buy finish wood in long lengths 8' or more and then rip them down with a tables saw to width & depth. Cut in a rabbet, sand and finish the pieces with either white, black or wood stain to be ready for mitre and joining. Would this be a worth while endeavor considering I might want to only carry a few different widths with the same profile to get started vs. buying chop and mitre/joining finished length. Chop is quite expensive and wood is not due to shipping costs etc. I would like to spend few weekends preparing length and then have it when I need a piece framed. There are plastic companies near me where I can get large sheets of acrylic for picture frames.

This is something new to me and I am assuming there have been many others before me with this same idea, so I would first like to hear the tips and experiences from others before I set out on such an effort! Once again, thank you so much for your time and consideration in my question and any guidance or direction you may have for me. Point of reference on location, Stamford, CT.

Thank you!
 

Ylva

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Welcome to the G!


I guess it depends on your woodworking and finishing skills and how professional it would look.

Why not find a distributor and get length moulding and framing grade materials instead.
I don’t know if Donmar services your area, that would be a good place to start.
 

wpfay

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I was part owner in a cabinet shop and have milled my own profiles in the past. Usually just simple ones like you are proposing. But I never did that when the profile I was going to use was available for purchase from a reputable source. I still do a bit of it, but none of my milling will be seen in the finished product, so achieving perfection isn't a concern.

You will need much more than a table saw to achieve your desired results. A thickness plane, possibly a joiner plane, and a HD router or spindle shaper to finish off the rabbets. Then you have to look at getting a safe way to finish the mouldings, and with paint, that means a ventilated spray booth and all the support tools for using an HVLP spray rig.

To get that "Gallery" look you can get hardwoods (usually maple or poplar if you are looking for a painted finish) in varying thickness (designated by 1/4" increments, so 1" would read 4/4) and it would be thickness planed to slightly thinner than the designation (4/4 would actually be 13/16"), and they come as either S2S (surfaced 2 sides) or S3S (surfaced 3 sides). To get any decent pricing on this you would be ordering it 100 board feet at a time, if you have a hardwood distributor locally. Otherwise you will be paying freight. The usual local options, home shelter stores, are way too expensive to consider, and the products they handle are generally not considered to be of a good enough grade to be used in framing. Last order of Basswood I got was 100 +/- board feet 4/4 S3S, and the boards ran from 11-13' in length with 6-8" of usable width.
Then you have to make sure you can make mouldings that are pretty much identical run after run. Even a really good table saw with a seasoned operator is going to be challenged at this task. That's why there are thickness planers, joiners, and spindle shapers.

You might want to consider cutting your investment in equipment and just getting a decent mitering saw and buy boxes of moulding in 3 or 4 profiles that are prefinished.
If you still want to finish your own, raw hardwood profiles are available from places like Vermont Hardwoods, Picture Woods, Foster's Planing Mill, and others.

Doing the manufacturing and finishing of the mouldings will take a lot of your time away from the thrust of your business which is gallery sales.
 
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Kasimir81

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Joined
Apr 12, 2020
Messages
15
I was part owner in a cabinet shop and have milled my own profiles in the past. Usually just simple ones like you are proposing. But I never did that when the profile I was going to use was available for purchase from a reputable source. I still do a bit of it, but none of my milling will be seen in the finished product, so achieving perfection isn't a concern.

You will need much more than a table saw to achieve your desired results. A thickness plane, possibly a joiner plane, and a HD router or spindle shaper to finish off the rabbets. Then you have to look at getting a safe way to finish the mouldings, and with paint, that means a ventilated spray booth and all the support tools for using an HVLP spray rig.

To get that "Gallery" look you can get hardwoods (usually maple or poplar if you are looking for a painted finish) in varying thickness (designated by 1/4" increments, so 1" would read 4/4) and it would be thickness planed to slightly thinner than the designation (4/4 would actually be 13/16"), and they come as either S2S (surfaced 2 sides) or S3S (surfaced 3 sides). To get any decent pricing on this you would be ordering it 100 board feet at a time, if you have a hardwood distributor locally. Otherwise you will be paying freight. The usual local options, home shelter stores, are way too expensive to consider, and the products they handle are generally not considered to be of a good enough grade to be used in framing. Last order of Basswood I got was 100 +/- board feet 4/4 S3S, and the boards ran from 11-13' in length with 6-8" of usable width.
Then you have to make sure you can make mouldings that are pretty much identical run after run. Even a really good table saw with a seasoned operator is going to be challenged at this task. That's why there are thickness planers, joiners, and spindle shapers.

You might want to consider cutting your investment in equipment and just getting a decent mitering saw and buy boxes of moulding in 3 or 4 profiles that are prefinished.
If you still want to finish your own, raw hardwood profiles are available from places like Vermont Hardwoods, Picture Woods, Foster's Planing Mill, and others.

Doing the manufacturing and finishing of the mouldings will take a lot of your time away from the thrust of your business which is gallery sales.
Hi Wally,

Thank you for your detailed response!! The challenges you brought up are exactly the type of thing I would have painfully figured out after spending so much money, time and broken equipment (from frustration) in my garage. The mitre saw and few profiles sound much more like the type of project my technical skills could handle.

"Even a really good table saw with a seasoned operator is going to be challenged at this task."

This quote alone makes me rethink my approach, because I am not a seasoned operator and my table is is far from really good. Not to mention the other equipment you mentioned that I do not have and would need to buy. Your right gallery sales are my current business which is functioning best; complicating it with milling frame materials would eventually take a lot of time from me. Sticking with mitering and joining non-complex frames will be a better plan.

Once again, I appreciate the response and insight.
 

Kasimir81

Grumbler
Joined
Apr 12, 2020
Messages
15
Welcome to the G!


I guess it depends on your woodworking and finishing skills and how professional it would look.

Why not find a distributor and get length moulding and framing grade materials instead.
I don’t know if Donmar services your area, that would be a good place to start.
Thank you Ylva, I will look at DonMar and see what they have!!
 

wpfay

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That's pretty ambitious for a garage shop. Been there, done that. You run out of room quickly.
Keep us posted on your progress and don't hesitate t ask questions.
 

Kasimir81

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Joined
Apr 12, 2020
Messages
15
That's pretty ambitious for a garage shop. Been there, done that. You run out of room quickly.
Keep us posted on your progress and don't hesitate t ask questions.
Thank you!

Will do, already looking at some finished frame lengths from www.123frame.net and they are much cheaper than some I have seen online.

DonMar is not open right now, any suggestions on vendors that sell finished length to mitre?
 

wpfay

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Slow down a bit. None of the suppliers are open after 5:00 local time, and many have shortened hours or closed completely during the pandemic. there is a list of suppliers and their current hours and contact information in the Resources section of The G.
 
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wvframer

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Welcome to the G!

I have done what you describe on a small scale. It is great fun but not something you can make money with unless you have high-end customers who are willing to pay for the time it takes to make something from raw lumber to a finished frame.

I agree with Wally and Ylva. You would be a lot better off to buy boxed moulding and cut it. If you are consistently using the same sizes, there are distributors who will chop large volume of frames at prices greatly reduced from regular chop prices. International calls these "ready-mades" but they are identical chops. I am pretty sure LJ and Nurre will do this too.

I think you should focus on easing into this and doing the easiest versions until you master each step and can move forward with confidence. My version of look around before you jump.
 

Larry Peterson

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Will do, already looking at some finished frame lengths from www.123frame.net and they are much cheaper than some I have seen online.
I looked at a few mouldings from 123frame.net. They are just reselling moulding from mainline manufacturers. The ones I looked at were from Studio. They didn't even bother to change the moulding number; just added an SM (Studio Moulding) to the number. One I looked at was priced over 4x the list price. Another from Universal-Arquati was priced at 2x the list price.

This is a site for DIY's, not professionals.

And the web site was looks like it was all the rage in the 90s. The 1890s.

Regular acrylic was priced at about 4x list.

You can do far better with an account with a real manufacturer.
 
Last edited:

Kasimir81

Grumbler
Joined
Apr 12, 2020
Messages
15
Slow down a bit. None of the suppliers are open after 5:00 local time, and many have shortened hours or closed completely during the pandemic. there is a list of suppliers and their current hours and contact information in the Resources section of The G.
Understood, I will heed the advice and slow down.

This COVID lockdown has me in full project mode, sanity (patience) may be slipping away a bit.
 
Vermont Hardwoods solid wood picture frame molding

Kasimir81

Grumbler
Joined
Apr 12, 2020
Messages
15
I looked at a few mouldings from 123frame.net. They are just reselling moulding from mainline manufacturers. The ones I looked at were from Studio. They didn't even bother to chamge the moulding number; just added an SM (Studio Moulding) to the number. One I looked at was priced over 4x the list price. Another from Universal-Arquati was priced at 2x the list price.

This is a site for DIY's not professionals. And the web site was looks like in was done in the 90s.
Thank you for the insight, I will look at the distributors that were listed previously in this post. Once again everyone has been super helpful and I appreciate all the advice.
 

Ylva

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Understood, I will heed the advice and slow down.

This COVID lockdown has me in full project mode, sanity (patience) may be slipping away a bit.
Lol, you and me both!
No worries, we all feel that. Spend some time researching who possibly would serve your area.
Donmar is a distributor and has a good selection.
I get free truck delivery when I order $100 or more.
They also carry a good variety of products you will need, frame supplies, matboars, glue,hangers, glass and so on.
It would be a good start.
You might also want to check Decor, Omega and when you have a store front, Larson Juhl

Ask questions! We are all here to help.
 

Kasimir81

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Joined
Apr 12, 2020
Messages
15
Lol, you and me both!
No worries, we all feel that. Spend some time researching who possibly would serve your area.
Donmar is a distributor and has a good selection.
I get free truck delivery when I order $100 or more.
They also carry a good variety of products you will need, frame supplies, matboars, glue,hangers, glass and so on.
It would be a good start.
You might also want to check Decor, Omega and when you have a store front, Larson Juhl

Ask questions! We are all here to help.
Thanks!
 

JFeig

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Oct 13, 1999
Messages
4,534
Wally, didn't you forget the sanding? Anyway

Lets say that you want to cut your own moulding.
Where are you going to get the actual lumber, a local home center or a lumber yard? Is that price true wholesale or retail?

What grade of lumber are you going to buy?
What will be the yield of that raw board (scrap)?
What will it cost for proper equipment, maintenance and time)?
What will the cost of quality control for the moulding?
What is the alternative cost of buying pre-milled raw or factory finished moulding?

On a small scale, one person, operation the answer is simple. Pay someone else to make the moulding
 

molly3

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Apr 16, 2020
Messages
2
@wpfay I know James Lebron is still is deceased and not making stretchers anymore but is their another company building them in the same manner, or do you have a link to instructions on how to build them myself? Thanks for your help
 
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wpfay

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Hi molly3. Yes, and a whole bunch of other options at Simon Liu, Inc.

here's a link: https://simonliuinc.com/stretchers/

1587050946744.png

The hardware was developed for the knock down furniture market and is relatively easy to install and use, if you have the proper tools. I've designed a similar system that uses a turnbuckle and dowels that can be installed with hand tools. I'll see if I can find the photo or a link to an earlier post about that system.

here is the reply to a similar question from earlier this year.
 
Last edited:

wvframer

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That looks like a modified strainer that can be loosened and tightened with the hardware. Is that right?
 

wpfay

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Indeed. Jimmy Lebron was an art handler in NYC and developed this and other systems to be able to get large canvases into small apartments, or through standard 3'0' X 6' 8" doorways. The knockdown hardware allowed for being able to put together a rigid strainer (not something that is easily done with keyed stretchers) and allowed for tensioning after the canvas was stretched. The little ball was turned in small increments with a rod that fit in the holes in the side of the ball. With these adjustments on the crossbars as well as the corners, the result was very even tension on the canvas. Jimmy Lebron was an amazing innovator. I just adapted his idea for use with no real special equipment.
 

Gilder

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In your situation I would not consider buying molding from somebody else but make it myself,
it's not hard and with experience you can become very good and efficient. The main thing is that
customers like to see a craftsman, real one. The one who can actually make things from scratch.
Don't go into that find a supplier BS.
 

molly3

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Hi molly3. Yes, and a whole bunch of other options at Simon Liu, Inc.

here's a link: https://simonliuinc.com/stretchers/

View attachment 33740

The hardware was developed for the knock down furniture market and is relatively easy to install and use, if you have the proper tools. I've designed a similar system that uses a turnbuckle and dowels that can be installed with hand tools. I'll see if I can find the photo or a link to an earlier post about that system.

here is the reply to a similar question from earlier this year.
Thanks for your help :)
 
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framah

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At least you have the first rule of starting a framing business:

Don't quit your day job.


At the stage you are at, trying to become an experienced woodworker...as someone suggested, will take way more time than you have based on what you posted that you would like your business to be.

THEY may be good at that sort of framing, but unless you are willing to spend a LOT of time and money trying to produce a product that will wow the customer... and on a consistent basis.. this road isn't something you should take.

With that said, once you get the business established and profitable using chops from a distributer, you can then consider learning the techinques and offer a limited choice of hand made one of a kind frames.
But, to START out with NO experience in woodworking to try to make money that way is pure folly and, in my opinion not a good suggestion.
 

Gilder

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Do not try to make money, learn how to make frames and money will come.
Yes, do not quit your day job yet.
 

Kasimir81

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At least you have the first rule of starting a framing business:

Don't quit your day job.


At the stage you are at, trying to become an experienced woodworker...as someone suggested, will take way more time than you have based on what you posted that you would like your business to be.

THEY may be good at that sort of framing, but unless you are willing to spend a LOT of time and money trying to produce a product that will wow the customer... and on a consistent basis.. this road isn't something you should take.

With that said, once you get the business established and profitable using chops from a distributer, you can then consider learning the techinques and offer a limited choice of hand made one of a kind frames.
But, to START out with NO experience in woodworking to try to make money that way is pure folly and, in my opinion not a good suggestion.
Thanks for the advice!
 

Kasimir81

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Apr 12, 2020
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Do not try to make money, learn how to make frames and money will come.
Yes, do not quit your day job yet.
Indeed, with a house and bills anything that I make is extra and nice. I am more interested in learning the craft!
 

Kasimir81

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Apr 12, 2020
Messages
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At least you have the first rule of starting a framing business:

Don't quit your day job.


At the stage you are at, trying to become an experienced woodworker...as someone suggested, will take way more time than you have based on what you posted that you would like your business to be.

THEY may be good at that sort of framing, but unless you are willing to spend a LOT of time and money trying to produce a product that will wow the customer... and on a consistent basis.. this road isn't something you should take.

With that said, once you get the business established and profitable using chops from a distributer, you can then consider learning the techinques and offer a limited choice of hand made one of a kind frames.
But, to START out with NO experience in woodworking to try to make money that way is pure folly and, in my opinion not a good suggestion.
Thank you and noted! My focus is on art sales with a subset of framing at this point. Hearing the different points of view have been very helpful for me to get a better direction.
 
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Kasimir81

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Apr 12, 2020
Messages
15
In your situation I would not consider buying molding from somebody else but make it myself,
it's not hard and with experience you can become very good and efficient. The main thing is that
customers like to see a craftsman, real one. The one who can actually make things from scratch.
Don't go into that find a supplier BS.
Thank you for you advice and point of view!
 

Kasimir81

Grumbler
Joined
Apr 12, 2020
Messages
15
Wally, didn't you forget the sanding? Anyway

Lets say that you want to cut your own moulding.
Where are you going to get the actual lumber, a local home center or a lumber yard? Is that price true wholesale or retail?

What grade of lumber are you going to buy?
What will be the yield of that raw board (scrap)?
What will it cost for proper equipment, maintenance and time)?
What will the cost of quality control for the moulding?
What is the alternative cost of buying pre-milled raw or factory finished moulding?

On a small scale, one person, operation the answer is simple. Pay someone else to make the moulding
To answer all these questions, I don’t know. Lol All of these were considerations which I had not thought about as a novice. The signs point to looking at me buying moulding . I appreciate the insight and pointing out the blind spots in my thought process!
 

Ylva

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I think as a start, it is a good idea to buy finished moulding.
You can experiment a little with making your own later.
I now do a combination of both.
Finishing your own is very satisfying but also more time consuming. Next year, when Framecon is held, you should try to make it there. There are a lot of hand finishing classes, very good for inspiration. Great vendor show as well.
 

wpfay

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Please don't get me wrong. Learning the craft of framing and practicing the traditions is rewarding unto itself, and can lead to a career making timeless frames. I have had the good fortune to make a few frames from raw wood and it was immensely gratifying. The financial rewarding part never kicked in though and this is my only source of income for the last 40+ years. My wife works in corporate so we do have a steady income thanks to that, for the moment.
My advice is a bit more pragmatic. If you make the business successful financially, you will then have the freedom to explore the finer points without risk. Earning money does not limit your reach. Your decisions about what to do yourself and what to outsource will be critical to your success in the framing and art world.
Many years ago I took a course at the National Convention (WCAF) in gold leafing, AKA gilding, from a master. Over two days we learned the basics of the craft. In those same two days I realized I was not cut from that cloth and have outsourced my leafed frames ever since.
While I admire Gilder's skill set, and passion for the craft, I cannot imitate it. My decision would be to employ Gilder to make my frames rather than learn what he knows.
You need the opportunity to make that same decision for yourself.
 

Gilder

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Here is my worry, what if there is no shipment from Asia tomorrow?
 
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Ylva

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Not saying it is a bad idea to create your own moulding. But for an inexperienced, just starting framer, it is not the best use of time, u less you are already a woodworker or have some experience with finishing.

Doesn’t mean one cannot acquire the skills, of course.

I agree that one of my worries is that I might not get what I need. It is why I have been branching out in refinishing, even if only to match a finish.
 

prospero

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
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I had dabbled in creating my own moulding with some success. I have only fairly rudimentary woodworking kit,
table saw (cheapo) and router table. (also cheapo). I have only attempted moulding in the rustic style where saw
marks and little irregularities are not a problem. All in all, unless you have really industrial grade equipment and
can but good timber at an advantageous price, it is far better to have your moulding milled up by someone who has.

I sometimes use the router to modify existing moulding - round over and cove square edges etc.

Here's a example of some rustic moulding I managed to make using 'construction' grade timber...

DIYmldg001.jpg fishframe001.jpg
 
Vermont Hardwoods solid wood picture frame molding
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