Scratched Frame


CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Dec 3, 2004
I am sure this has happened to someone --- while using a back paper trimmer today, the metal on the trimmer scratched the side of my frame. Any ideas on how to buff the scratch out?

Obviously, I should have exercised more caution when using the trimmer. Does anyone even use trimmers anymore, or is it easier to freehand it? Any help appreciated.
What kind of finish does the frame have?
:cool: Rick
I find it easiest to just hold a razor blade between thumb and index finger with about 1/4" showing at the business end, and use my thumb as a guide along the frame's edge. This provides lots of control over the blade (as long as it's sharp), and I can cut as close to the edge as I need. I always found those trimmers to be needlessly clunky, and that they cut too far from the edge for my taste.
I have used one of those red trimmers that recycle your matcutter blades for you for years and have never had it scratch the moulding. It is all plastic where it touches the wood and the only thing that happens is the blade occasionally slips off the edge of the frame but that is usually due to my head being up a certain dark hole when I should have been paying attention to what I was doing.

I use the same trimmer Tom uses. I've used the same one for many many years. It is loaded with blades on both ends so you can use it left and right handed and not have to turn the picture to trim each side. Plus, it does not wear away the plastic like the other traditional trimmers do. So, you always get a neice even cut 1/8 of an inch from the edge.
I used one of the black trimmers when I first got into framing because that's what I was shown to use. It wasn't long before I went back to my cork backed ruler and X-acto knife that I got comfortable with when I worked in the art department of a photo lab. I still use it though for ovals I use the X-acto and my finger as a guide.
I wish I could use my thumb as a guide and get a straight edge - but I can't! I love this little tool. Adjustable, less than $8.00, plastic (no scratching) designed to strip balsa, works on any frame except concave curves. Now I can get a perfectly straight edge of any width I choose.
Pre-cut your backing paper slightly larger than the frame and press the edges down over the frame and the cutter never touches the frame
I always keep a range of coloured waxes - on frames with a varied finish scratches can be made to disapear easily - if the finish is fairly uniform it can be very difficult to lose a scratch without drawing attention to the fact that its there.
isnt this grand opportunity to ask whomever it is schedules classes to whip one(or MORE) up for refinishing some of the various surfaces we all must deal with---varnished, natural, paper, compo-- in the dozens of dozens of shades that we use????????????????????? actually ends up being an outtake of a furniture repair course BUT using the material we have(more & more of which seem to be 'not real') in point--I just got a chop from a vendor---4.5" wide & 3" hi, dark red and 2 pieces have small scratches right in the middle on the 36" leg!!!!! very small but VERY noticable...would just love to 'fix' them rather than wait another 1-1.5 weeks for reship(& we wont talk about that one place where the rabbit is dinged-probably beyond redemption)
I started out using the straightedge and an exacto but after I got the trimmer, things were much nicer looking. The trimmer makes everything uniform distance from the edge. I normally have the paper bigger than the frame as mentioned by dougj above so I guess I have inadvertently avoided this problem. I would like that one that can be used on both sides without turning the frame.

There have been times where the trim was too far from the edge e.g. on narrow profiles.

I hope you're able to get the scratches out. Unfortunately, I can't offer any advice on this part except good luck!

I agree with Bill...!

We have a loaded inventory of putty, gilt creams, stains, touch-up markers, acrylic paints, rottenstone, etc.. ad naseum... I'd love to know "the secrets" of fixing dings on finishes.

And let's not forget those lengths that come in without a semblance of recognition to their corner samples! How embarrassing to call the customer and say, "I know you live 30 miles away, but come on back and let's see if I can talk you into THIS moulding...." I love those acid-washed mouldings, but hate to sell them. I never know what I'm going to get! But I digress...

I'd like to know how to fix finish mars and marks myself. (We use the ol' razor blade method to trim, also.)
Is mine the only shop that still uses a single-edge razor blade to trim dustcovers? We hold the blade at a compound angle, and gently pull or push it along the edges of the frame's back, cutting the paper exactly at the edge of the moulding.

This way, the frame's finish shows right up to the paper; usually no unfinished wood showing.

To answer the original question, sometimes the finish can be repaired, but not usually. Depends on the nature of the finish.
No JIm yours isn't. Its the only way I have done it, and I like the look I get. But I hold mine at an angle. I tried at another shop to use one of those trimmers, I just couldn't stand the feel of it. Guess its just what your use to.

As fas as finishes, I'm always adding woodworking, furniture repair and finishing books to my library. I use so many different techniques and am always trying something new. Love that gilders paste that was mentioned on a thread a week or so ago.

Most of the time different tech. work and sometimes its a no go. Frames are finished in sucha variety of ways, the traditional repair techniques for furni ture just don't fly. But its always fun trying.
Originally posted by Jason:
Any ideas on how to buff the scratch out?
We still have no idea what the finish is that needs to be repaired. This piece of information would create suggestions on repair technique rather than trimming technique.

I am one who has never liked using the trimmer. I would never even purchase one for employees. I also have never (O.K. a couple of times since 1979) used an ATG gun to apply the ATG to the back of the frame. Just stretch the tape and rub.
Not sure how to describe the finish. It is a maple frame with what appears to be a laminate varnish over the wood. The laminate varnish is what is scratched.
Light scratches can be rubbed out with 00 steel wool. Deep scratches will need to have some clear coat applied.

How severe is the damage? Is the finish color also damaged? Who is manufacturer? What is the item number?

You may be able to fill with some laquer or varnish but you need to know what was used in the first place. You can ask the manufacturer what was used if you aren't able to determine this.
Is mine the only shop that still uses a single-edge razor blade to trim dustcovers? We hold the blade at a compound angle, and gently pull or push it along the edges of the frame's back, cutting the paper exactly at the edge of the moulding.
No, count me in for that too. I also apply ATG by hand to the very edge of the frame. Trimming it with a blade as Jim described gives me a very neat looking dustcover that goes all the way to the edge of the frame.

The little sliver of raw wood that you get with trimmers just bugs the livin' heck out of me.
Originally posted by Ron Eggers:
Kathy, I had no idea you were ambidextrous!

You never cease to amaze me.
Ron, I don't want to brag, but, I am also multi-faceted and double jointed, think circus clown......
Jason, If it's varnish or poly or lacquer.. you're . . . well, try the 0000 steel wool...

If it was shellac, then you just touch and go some new shellac and the scratch disappears.

you could also try some "Old English" Red . . then buff like heck.. and pray.

Sorry that it took 23 tries for you to get some answers... I'm sure that you are now very WELL versed on the PROPER way for REAL framers to get the paper off....

I'm the neaderthal kind of guy... I still prefer my kerosene blow torch. Tried the butane, didn't like the smell.
We redid a frame awhile back...buffed it down and then bought a can of matching paint and re-sprayed it..Came out neat but did not look anything like the original..ha! So from that point on we just take any frame that is dinged and mark them down and sell them off that way as being used. Sold several of them just today.
I too want to know more about that double edge knife that Emibub was talking about..Sounds so kewl..I am tired of having to rotate those frames. I worry about scrathing them while rotating them.
I started off using an exacto and a straight edge, but then someone said the knife was what was considered to be progress. I think its just for those of us who don't have the dexterity anymore abd can't feel our thummbs. So I now use a knife, but still have trouble with the corners.
So tell me Kathy - what kind of blades do you use in the red trimmer - I recently tried the 1200 C&H blades and they seem too wiggly - tomorrow I'm gonna switch out to the 1500 blades - and BTW - I am ambidexterous too!!! (at least when it comes to trimming paper and shooting the point gun - can't brush my teeth with my left hand for the life of me! LOL!)

I think that when it comes to tthe touching up of scratched or damaged frames it is probably just a matter of trial and error and a hefty life-long collection of various art supplies!!! Plus a couple of coats of matte or gloss Krylon, or a coat of paste wax, to even things out - trial and error!
Originally posted by BILL WARD:
...would just love to 'fix' them rather than wait another 1-1.5 weeks for reship...

Whaaa?? If not a "perfect" fix, and not too time-consuming (time is money, right??),what about red tag overnight, care of the host vendor? Their fault, not yours...most don't balk at doing that when I'm in a pinch and it's their scratch. Have you asked?

Just for the record, in my previous framing life, I used the Pro-trim. A few years away from it, and now I can't stand it, and have morphed to a single-edge, thumb-and-forefinger, lefty-righty kinda gal. Just for the record. In case anyone's keeping track.
Quote from Val:

Whaaa?? If not a "perfect" fix, and not too time-consuming (time is money, right??),what about red tag overnight, care of the host vendor? Their fault, not yours...most don't balk at doing that when I'm in a pinch and it's their scratch. Have you asked?

True, Val, but the problem is the scratch is Jason's and not the distributor's fault. Remember, he scratched it with his Pro trimmer??

I know how easy it is to get confused on some of these convoluted threads but I am fairly sure that is how the scratch occurred.


You can use either the 1200 or the 1200SE or the same versions in the 1500 thickness. I don't know why you are getting wiggle if you tighten down the screw properly. Did you try another 1200 blade? I found that, when using the 1200SE blade you can't reverse the blade when one end gets dull. You CAN but it tends to track off of the edge of the frame if the single bevel faces the wrong direction and that will get you in trouble. And ya gotta consider that, like the AEZ or a number of other hand tools that are discussed to eternity here, they don't always work for all framers. It is a matter of technique and what you feel most comfortable doing.

I can't understand all the fuss about how precisely the dust cover is trimmed in the first place. It's on the BACK of the frame for cryin' out loud and it's something of total utility value to impede the entry of vermin and dust, not a fashion statement!! Once the piece is on the wall that dust cover is rarely ever seen again. As long as it is adhered with something that won't fall apart in 3 months and trimmed straight and neatly how much more concern should be paid to the engineering of a dust cover??

Regarding your scratch, Jason, if you want to touch it up you can. It couldn't possibly have gouged into the finish very deeply if you were handling the dust cover trimmer properly so 0000 or finer steel wool will probably take the scuff out and you are good to go. If you choose to mess with the finish use something compatible if you can find out what the finish is comprised of, otherwise, just don't spray laquer on varnish or mix incompatible finishes as they may lift each other. If you're not sure about what you are doing with finishes and all else fails then I suggest calling the moulding company and have them ship a replacement leg out red label. Chalk the experience and the added cost up to learning to pay attention to what you are doing from start to finish and go on with life.

Throw that old style trimmer with the metal guide away if you can't learn to use it properly and buy yourself a trimmer like Kathy and I suggested or get a box of single edge razor blades.

Yeah Mar, I mainly use the 1500SE's, but, any of them will work. If you use the SE's make sure the bidness side of the blade is facing into the tool. Tommy Boy is right, it can run off track if you don't use it right. It takes practice. It leaves just a little edge showing, it will never wear down like the old fashioned trimmers and show 1/4 inch of frame on the back either.

When I worked at Michael's some dim bulb was showing a new person how to fit and he showed him with just a razor and his thumb, which was against the rules, Michael's insisted on using a trimmer for safety. The new guy sliced into his thumb and it required stitches. I made sure the knucklehead who showed him how to do that was banned from handling tools ever again, at least on my watch. The incident kind of turned me against using just a blade although, I do on occasion.
I have used the "#12 single edged razor blade/guide with thumb" way of trimming dustcovers since 1969 when it was taught to me by dear Kramer the Framer.

My fingers have been getting cramped lately - thought I'd give 'em a break with the HassleFree Dust Cover Trimmer. So far I mostly hate the big klunky thing - but I have only been experimenting with it for a couple of weeks - after another 40 years I am sure I'll be quite expert in its use!!!
Framerguy, if you go back and read Bill's quote, I was referring his receiving a 4.5" wide chop from a vendor that arrived scratched, not Jason's scratch caused by his trimmer. Easy to be confused about my not being confused (for a change!) :D
BTW, I think I've gone over the edge and scratched or chipped a frame more often with a trimmer than I have using the blade alone. And I've never, in all my years, cut myself with using the blade-only method, although I don't recommend it without some practice, maybe with a pre-bandaided set of fingers. I do have to pay attention (Oh look! A Bird!) to pick the blade up and use it with, as Kathy says, the bidness side down.
Those red trimmers that use the XActo blade (the Michael's-approved ones) look like they might be pretty slick, but I just can't want to. I'll stick to what has worked for me. (Now watch, having said that, I'll cut the crap outa myself doing it that way today! I hope I haven't poxed myself, getting all cocky like that!) :eek:
Sorry, Val, I had a senior citizen moment there but now I seem to be OK.

(I think I'll go and wax my AARP card.)

We crease the paper back over itself and run a knife down the inside of the crease to trim it out, it's very hard to scratch the frame that way. (Ormond, shhhhh!!!)
Framerguy......that's too funny! I get a case of Oldtimer's now and then too, and I'm not even old! Or blonde! Just scatterbrained! Oh look! A BIRD!!
Back to the scratches, I have had good luck using crayola crayons on fine scratches. Just fill in the scratch and buff.