True Grumbler
Apr 5, 2005
Northern Baltimore County - horse country
I have been a lurkin here for a bit... and thought I would take the big step and jump into the sand box.
Here is the history:
I am a self taught framer and have been doing so for about 5 years. I have made my own moulding and framed items for myself. I come for a family of woodworkers and grew up in the midst of saws and like machines. Two years ago we moved next to an artist who was framing her own artwork... and hated it (gasp). When she discovered that I had framed a few things she was begging me to do a few things for her. Bit by bit I have done jsut that to include cutting mats, making a few frames. I have since gotten a tax id and have a great supplier. I am working out of my basement - have two small children and as much as I would love to dedicate myself to framing, the time is just not there. I will only do work for said artist neighbor and a friend here and there (although, people do seem to come out of the woodwork at that oddest of times). Maybe one day... to do this full time would be a dream!

So here is my question. I have a miter trimmer that has given me nothing but pain! Briefly, after getting the blades re-shaped and sharpened, they (the blades) chipped on one of the first things that I cut (2 1/2 inch hard wood moulding). Did I mention that the family business is industrial saw sharpeneing? That helps!

Is a sanding wheel the way to go? Does anyone use these? Are they effective?

What about joining? Given the above, what advice would you pros give to a newbie that does not want to invest in equipment that is really not nec? I have used v-nails but they are not the easiest of things to use with hard wood. I am considering geting a Logan Pro Joiner....

Ok, let the lectures begin....
Jody, doing framing on the level that you are (I know because I've been there and done that - boys are now 18 and 23) the best way to start is with chops and a cast iron corner vise with drilling and nailing for fastening. I worked that way for nearly 15 years.

In order for a sanding wheel to be effective, you'd need one of the very good ones, and they are expensive. Even with a good supplier and chops, occasionally one is a little off, but (at least in my experience) it wasn't that often.

Drilling and nailing will take you a long way while you're saving for the better equipment.

Ah, I respectfully disagree with that, Mitch. But to each his own. And yes, I have tried those, but like trying to v-nail with the frame upside down (like the Logan does) I personally think it is much more difficult to do, and is more likely to damage the face of the frame.

Hi Jody,

Welcome to the Grumble. You won’t find too many folks here that will lecture (in a bad way) although you’re gonna find a whole lot of people with opinions – most of them who differ from me are, of course, dead wrong.

You didn’t mention what kind of miter “trimmer” you have. If you’re more specific, maybe someone can pipe in and make suggestions.

I agree with Betty RE: V-nails vs. wedges. Wedges (IMHO) eat up too much of the wood surface at the mitered ends to allow for good adhesive contact. I have been using a hand operated V-nailer for about 15 years with good results – even with hard woods like oak, if you crank down on the vise handles really tightly and hammer the hold down lever with a mallet so that the wood doesn’t slip, you should be okay. The secret is to drive the V-nails as quickly as you can i.e. let the bevel on the nail do the cutting, rather than trying to rely on brute strength to push the nails

An alternative to chops (and having to worry about getting a good miter sander) is having your frame “cut and joined” by your distributor. It costs a premium, and the shipping will absorb some of your profits, but if the join isn’t to your liking, you can always send it back and won’t have to eat the mistake. The negative, of course, is that your turn around time will be shortened somewhat.
Welcome to the Grumble Jody. I'm real green around here but I am learning fast. I am ordering chops at the time (saving for a nice mitre saw/or chopper, and v-nailer) but am very particular about the corners fitting tight. My wife says I am a perfectionist but there are so many variables when cutting a good angle that I have no control over. Something needed to be done, I have decided on a percision mitre sander from ITW, for a professional fit. I know there are as many types and brands as there are opinions as to who is the better with all tools. I made my decision after researching the grumble, and than trying a few at a trade show in Vegas. I have been very happy with my corners. Good luck, and good framing.

Danny boy
Hi Jody.

Okay, I know I am opening myself up to lots of mocking (good-natured, I'm sure)... but I used to work in a big shop with all the fancy equipment. Now I work for myself on about the same scale as you. Okay, get ready...

I cut moulding by hand with a miterbox and a hand saw. The cheapest you can find at Home Depot. $12, and I'll just buy a new one when that one is dull. I just don't have the money or the room in my workspace right now for the machinery. Surprisingly, this method works EXCELLENTLY for me. I am a huge perfectionist when it comes to corners, too. I use the small sanding wheel available from Logan, too, and it's never disappointed me.

Then, after glueing each corner together perfectly on my lone iron miter vise (obtained from eBay), I hammer v-nails in BY HAND. I know, I know. But it works wonderfully and is cheap. I HONESTLY attain just as perfect corners with these crackhead methods as I used to when I worked with a gorgeous new chopper, miter saw, industrial sanding wheel, v-nailer, thumbnailer, what have you. There's no difference in quality. I swear.

It doesn't really even seem to take that long, no matter what people will probably say.

Okay, I'm ready for the ridicule now. Bring it on.
Hey Bumpon, whatever works, but I'm not so sure hand hammering v-nails into rock maple is as successful as banak...but I do know that wedges displace wood and hardwood being less porous than softwood there is more material displaced. Drilling and nailing works better because you remove the material that the nail would otherwise displace. The joint is also being held more firmly in a vise while you are hammering away so it's less likely for the joint to get out of line.

At any rate...Hi Jody. There are lots of variables in equiping a frame shop, and as your skills and needs grow the tools you will use will change to a certain degree. The one tool that I have used consistantly throughout my 30some years of framing is a Stanley miter vise. They aren't a huge investment, and along with a good mitering machine (guillotine or saw) you have the basics for assembling frames.

Good Luck
Thank you all for your insights and help. Getting to these messages at the end of the day has been a treat! I could lock myself in our dungeon and cut miters and mats all freaking day (OK -- well, there would have to be music) - any and all discussion is candy!! I was half expecting to recv a corrective interview on being in over my head and dismissed. Sorry to each of you for that thought, and thank you for not meeting that expectation!!
I just may get the nerve to post again!!!
Cheers and thanks again

Jody :0)