Slat Moulding


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Dec 4, 2001
Torrington, Connecticut, USA
A client brought in two fairly large oils on canvas. One is 60"x50", the other 68"x52". He wants them framed with slat mouldings, which I have located. He also does not want them mitered, but rather butted together.

Not ever having used this type of moulding in the past, my question is, since the moulding will be butted together, are the side mouldings the ones to extend beyond the edge of the canvas (top & bottom), and the top and bottom rails to be even with the edges of the canvas, or vise-versa? And is this question totally un-clear?

If this question is un-clear, would someone be kind enough to offer a brief explanation of how they go about attaching this type of moulding.


I dislike using that style of moulding! You see light coming through the sides and doesn't always "work" for the artwork. The artists I know who use this style of moulding are doing so because they think it is cheaper than a float frame. I think it just looks that way.

I have the butted ends longer on the top and bottom of the frame. I have attached it to the artwork by nailing through the sides and into the side of the stretcher. I also usually do the sides first then measure the top! But even that doesn't stop me from messing up the measurements.

BTW the best ones I've seen done this way were painted flat black after they were on the frame. More professional looking corners. I'd prefer to use a small floater frame and butt it really snug to the artwork. Don't get the light showing through the sides, provides more support to the artwork, and just looks more professional.
The slat “mouldings” I have seen have been simple 1 x 3” strips of unfinished wood bought in a lumber yard.

The artists who use these (too cheap or too poor to do it right), have simply sanded the wood, painted the interior surface (the one abutting the painting) black, and the other surfaces whatever color their little hearts desired.

They then nailed or screwed the slats directly onto the stretcher/strainer bar. It didn’t seem to matter how the corners “overlapped”, so long as they butted flush with each other.

They aligned the back of the “frame” flush with the back of the stretcher/strainer bar so that there was a lip extending beyond the front of the painting.

Because of the width of the “moulding”, the frame was supported by the stretcher bars and not the other way around.

It is something students do. IMHO it looks cruddy!
Well, you run a "custom frame shop" for a reason ... to produce quality custom frames. The arrangement your customer wants is as far from "quality custom frames" as I can imagine. Send him home to his basement shop.

It's kinda like sitting down in a fine French restaurant and insisting they make you pork rinds and gruel.

Do whatcha want, but I wouldn't touch it.
Bradding thin strips to the sides of a stretched canvas isn't anything I'd do. You have to wonder why the guy wants the joints butted; I guess he likes the look of end grain.

Sometines this is the treatment the artist wants and then I do it, sort of. First take some 3/4 by, say 3" wood strips and miter and join them flat with the outer edges just a hair larger than the stretched canvas (this assumes that the stretchers are square and they probably aren't). The stretched canvas should be able to sit on this "frame" completely covering it. Paint the top black and fasten the stretched canvas to it buy screwing through the bottom of the flat "frame" into the stretchers. Counter sink the screw heads.

Now all you need is some material 3/8" (artists love this thin look) by whatever the customer wants the strip to be above the surface of the canvas plus 3/4". Miter or butt the strips (after you've painted them) to the 3/4" sides of the flat frame you made from the 3/4 x 3" stock.

I guess what I described is a homemade floater frame. We've actually gold leafed the top of the 3/8" strips.
The easiest way to make butt joints is by using a biscuit joiner. You can find these at Home Depot and the like. It makes a really strong bond.

I always run the length with the image. Landscape = long on top and bottom, portrait = long on left and right.

I hope this helps Mike. I will look to see if I have any pictures of some that I have done. I don't know about everyone else, but when I do these they usually cost more than using pre-finished moulding. I spend a lot of time with the staining or painting.
Thanks Jerry, I appreciate your input. And thanks to everyone else as well. Don Mar carries finished slat "moulding" in a couple of flavors, and one that my client liked.

Sure, I'd rather go with a more conventional frame, but he insists on this look. He's not a bottom feeder, and has spent very good money in the past, and since I'm not in the habit of turning paying customers away based on my taste, thought I'd give it a go. We'll see what happens.

I appreciate all of your responses.

Mike, a suggestion would be to follow Mr Tucker's advice and make your own floater frame. You could use DM's moulding (I use 453BB myself) as the side.

You could use their strainer as the frame and attach the 453BB as side. The strainer will give you some added support for artwork that big, and you can still get the butted look the customer is after.

painting the strainer would make it "invisible" from the front, and ramming brads into it would be better than running brads into the stretcher. Studio has some beautiful Float frames and if you use theirs you have to build the base the art sits on. They only sell the sides.

Bendix 2065 1/4" x 1 1/4" gold top walnut side moulding.......... $2.41/ft chop price is still in their price list.

I have a sample I had to dust off in the back from when we stocked it many many years ago.