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Donmar Creations

Pilot holes for Polystyrene?

Frances M.

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Joined
Apr 10, 2006
Messages
351
Customer brought in a big mass-produced print and wanted to change out one of the mats. As I expected, no way were any of the mats coming apart without some eventual damage to other mat layers or print, so she decided just to put it back in frame and give to children. I don't use polystyrene so don't know if pilot holes are recommended for screws, like wood and mdf, or not, so seeking advice.
 

tedh

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Joined
Nov 7, 2005
Messages
11,565
In all my years of framing with plastic, I never drilled a pilot hole. But I do use double D rings, not trusting the strength of plastic.
 

snafu

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Joined
Mar 2, 2003
Messages
921
I've found that stapling the wire to plastic frames works better than multiple screws.
I cover the staples with strips of mat board.
 

artfolio

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Joined
Feb 16, 2007
Messages
2,658
My favourite "starter" for screws in wood or poly was a cobbler's brad awl but any sharp pointed tool like an icepick or office spike will work just as well. In plastic of any kind definitely use the longest screws you safely can and double up if the material is soft.
 

wvframer

Humble Picture Framer
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Oct 9, 2007
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I just used a sharp screw most of the time. But it is probably smarter to at least make a start with an awl. I think a pilot hole might actually work against you if the poly is soft.
 
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artfolio

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Joined
Feb 16, 2007
Messages
2,658
[/QUOTE]

Not to mention the risk of drilling right through the moulding.......😳 (Not that I would be that clumsy..........😝.)
 

MATTHEW HALE

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Joined
Dec 5, 2015
Messages
487
I began my framing career working for a chain that sold almost nothing but polystyrene mouldings. I assembled thousands of them over the course of ten years, and I never once put a screw into one. We typically recommended hanging from a sawtooth hanger positioned in each of the top corners to prevent bowing of the side rails. We used the type of sawtooth hanger that pounded directly into the moulding, not the type that nails or screws in. On smaller pieces or those with sturdier mouldings, we would staple the hanging wire to the back or the moulding, then fold it back on itself and staple again to prevent it from pulling out from under the staple.
 

alacrity8

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Joined
Sep 22, 2009
Messages
759
I began my framing career working for a chain that sold almost nothing but polystyrene mouldings. I assembled thousands of them over the course of ten years, and I never once put a screw into one. We typically recommended hanging from a sawtooth hanger positioned in each of the top corners to prevent bowing of the side rails. We used the type of sawtooth hanger that pounded directly into the moulding, not the type that nails or screws in. On smaller pieces or those with sturdier mouldings, we would staple the hanging wire to the back or the moulding, then fold it back on itself and staple again to prevent it from pulling out from under the staple.
Matthew,
My first 8 months of framing were for Prints Plus.
Polystyrene and Plexi with limited selection of precut double mats, and sawteeth in the corners.
I don't believe I ever attached a wire in those days.

I'm curious if a very course thread screw (half the thread of a course thread[I have never seen such a thing]) would work better on plastic than course or fine thread screws.

Double D-Rings or Super Steel hangers a must.

Brian
 

Frances M.

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Joined
Apr 10, 2006
Messages
351
I began my framing career working for a chain that sold almost nothing but polystyrene mouldings. I assembled thousands of them over the course of ten years, and I never once put a screw into one. We typically recommended hanging from a sawtooth hanger positioned in each of the top corners to prevent bowing of the side rails. We used the type of sawtooth hanger that pounded directly into the moulding, not the type that nails or screws in. On smaller pieces or those with sturdier mouldings, we would staple the hanging wire to the back or the moulding, then fold it back on itself and staple again to prevent it from pulling out from under the staple.
This thing is too big and heavy to hang from any sawtooth! Moulding is polystyrene but is about 4" wide and @ 30 x 36. I'm just going to use the hangers and wire it came with in new locations. Interesting info though - thanks.
 
Vermont Hardwoods solid wood picture frame molding

David Hewitt

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Joined
Feb 26, 2009
Messages
387
You said big and heavy. Not knowing the composite I think it would be safer to pre drill. User a bit a little smaller than you normally would with wood and go as deep as the screw is. Also use a 4 hole large d-rings and screws as deep as you can go. Mirror hang it and you should be good to go.
You could also use z-bars, but do them top and bottom, if real heavy, same thought with deep screws.

We once did 6 very large mirrors that the instructions were to sit on floor only do not hang. We needed to hang. Solution was to install 1/2 ply wood to the entire back of frame with screws 3" apart all around entire frame then used French cleats to hang. The mirrors were about 4x8 in size and polystyrene.
 
Last edited:

Jim Miller

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May 19, 2000
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This thing is too big and heavy to hang from any sawtooth! Moulding is polystyrene but is about 4" wide and @ 30 x 36. I'm just going to use the hangers and wire it came with in new locations.
:oops:
Wire it came in with?? Most of those mass-produced frames come with D-rings only. Consumers often add wires, which is probably the most common cause of the hangers pulling out and miters failing. Whether yours has a wire from the factory or from the customer, I suggest using hardware for two hanging points, such as D-rings, WallBuddies, HangMan, or similar hangers. I'd stick a big DO NOT USE WIRE label on the back, too.

PS: No need to pre-drill plastic...and be careful not to tighten the screws too much and strip the threads, because then they would easily pull out. Don't ask how I know that.
 

MATTHEW HALE

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Joined
Dec 5, 2015
Messages
487
if i had a nickel for every piece of art i've seen with a "Do Not Wire" sticker and a wire...
 

Larry Peterson

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Apr 8, 2003
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if i had a nickel for every piece of art i've seen with a "Do Not Wire" sticker and a wire...
If I had a nickel for every time I resisted the temptation to try polycarp..............................................
 
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alacrity8

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Joined
Sep 22, 2009
Messages
759
Be mindful of the fasteners that you use. The pan-head sheet metal screws that we typically use in wood are likely the cause of failure in plastic frames whether piloted or not.

I quickly Googled this article regarding "best thread pitch for polystyrene":

That is interesting information, and mostly verifies my assumption that a wider spacing between threads is better for plastic.
It is interesting to see that most screws for plastic are pointless.

Brian
 

MATTHEW HALE

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Joined
Dec 5, 2015
Messages
487
Vermont Hardwoods solid wood picture frame molding
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