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Frame Cutting FAQs

How Much does it cost to Send Moulding?

If you situated a long way from one of our FrameCo showrooms and are unable to collect moulding in lengths, we can send the lengths to you. Moulding comes in various lengths but usually the size is between 2M amd 3M or 7-10 feet. However you do not have to have such long lengths. We can send 1M or 3 foot lengths to you in the mail, but the longer lengths have to be sent via road freight. The shorter lengths sent by mail can be any number of assorted styles or lengths...so we try to make it as easy as possible for you purchase the right frame style for you framing project. You select the types of moulding from our catalogue or the online or through the Smart Framer Program.

The best way to start buying your own moulding lengths is by using the chop service. This is where we cut the length down to the exact size you require for you framing project. Then we can send anything to you in the mail. So four pieces of a middle class moulding cut to size for a standard size frame will cost a minimum sent by mail...you save on the freight and the cutting fee may be less that the amount of moulding you would have over if you were cutting from a full length. We also use a professional guillotine to cut our customers frames, so the cut is very accurate.

What is the best way to cut Picture Frames accurately

The best way to get an accurate mitre (angled) cut is with a professional picture framers guillotine. But these machines are expensive and not practical for the home based picture framer. The guillotine ( see description later) is the most acceptable method used by the professional framing industry worldwide. Most professional frame shops do not use saws, especially electric drop saws! The reason is that those drop saws are made for the woodworking industry, not picture framing, and they are just not accurate enough. They are also can cause chipping and tearing especially in small and plain frame material. So a guillotine cut will give you an accurate smooth cut without the need for sanding or trimming.

For the DIY picture framer, you have three choices.

1. Use a well made, hand mitre saw, with the blade suspended between upright metal posts which help in maintaining accuracy. The saw will produce better results if a measuring system is also used to ensure accurate lengths. The best of these saws is the Swedish made Proman saw

2. Use a Mitre Trimmer...first you must pre-cut the lengths using a standard power or hand saw. The lengths are cut about 1/4" - 5mm longer than required, then trimmed using a Mitre Trimmer. The Trimmer produces a guillotine cut, but it can only trim the mitre cuts. It is not as powerful as the bigger professional machines, but still produces a very smooth accurate cut. These mitres do not need sanding.

3.Purchase frames cut to size..this is called a "chop" service. This is where a company such as FrameCo, cuts the four sides of the picture frame to exactly to the size of your picture. You then join the frame together using your own tools. Chops are ideal as they eliminate inaccurate cuts, and can be cheaper because it also means you do not have any left over frame pieces.

Using a hand mitre saw maybe slow, but if you cutting only a small number of frames per year it is practical and affordable. As your hobby grows you also start to use bigger and more ornate mouldings, so then you add a mitre trimmer at that time. For the more expensive frame mouldings use a Chop service so that you have no left over material.

What is the best way to measure Picture Frames accurately?

Adding a FrameCo measuring system to your hand saw or power saw is the most important step you can take to improve your picture framing results.

Bold statement but true. Measuring is so important....getting the two peices of your frame side exactly the same length is the most important step in the whole framing process! Unless the mitres go together well, the frame corners look bad!! And the only way to achieve an accurate result everytime is to add a measureing system to your saw. And the best system is the FrameCo system!! Not because we make it..but because it works better than any other system on the market and is the most economical.

# Model #10125 Ezy-Measure System 0-114cm (0 - 43 inches)
# Model #10127 Ezy-Measure Extension 114-168cm (43 - 64 inches)
# Attaches to any manual or power saw.
# Available in metric or imperial scales


Manual Saw setup

Power Saw setup

Accurate System Stop

  Measure wide frames

What timber is used to make frame mouldings and does this affect mitre cutting.

The main timbers used for making picture frame mouldings are Obeche ( South Africa) and Ramin (SE Asia). While Obeche is a pale, soft and even grained timber, Ramin is harder, stronger and with a more pronounced grain. However Ramin is now subject to stringent environmental controls and has to have an approved CITES Certificate to prove its origin. Ramin is gradually been replaced by timbers such as Marupa from Brazil. Others timbers used to a lesser extent are Ayous - Africa, and the hardwoods of North America. Pine is also used.

Frames made from Obeche cut and join very easily...better than anything else on the market. And you should look for frames made from this timber. Obeche is has a long grain and for this reason it is more stable than most timbers. So your frames will not warp or bend. Obeche is also quite soft, so v-nails can be pushed into the timber more easily. However this timber variety is a little. more expensive than most, but the extra expense is well worth while...because you get a frame moulding that you can cut and join easily...no wastage

Plastic or polymer mouldings are a small part of the market. They come from manufactures in the UK, Korea, China and the USA. Because they are man made these mouldings are quite different to wood. They are more difficult to cut with our DIY hand operated mitre saws, and while they do v-nail, the holding power of the v-nail wedge is not as good as in wood. The look of these mouldings is exceptional, the finish excellent and they are great value, but working with them is more difficult.

At FrameCo we only stock frames made from Obeche, because they are the easiest to cut and join. All mouldings are not the same, so don't buy seconds or on price alone, or what you think looks great....you waste more through warpage and cutting difficulties than what you save because they are a little cheaper. Frames which slope away to the back (reverse backs) and the American Hardwoods are not ideal frames to start off your hobby with. Make it easy on yourself and you will enjoy your hobby!

How to select the right colour frame.

Selecting the “right” colour, size, and shape of the moulding for your picture can be quite a problem. However there are a few rules which may help make the job easier.

There are two types of picture frame moulding, natural finish and manufactured or pre-finished with stains, wax, limed or gold and silver leafed.

Our Suggestion for the DIY (Do It Yourself) framer is to use pre-finished moulding. They are available in a great variety, and it is difficult to duplicate professional finished mouldings. They are usually made of better quality timbers and are well priced in comparison to finishing moulding yourself.

Most professionally finished mouldings are made from timbers such as Obeche, Ramin or Pine. These cut and join well, and are soft to medium hardness. Ash and Oak have a more pleasing grain and therefore are ideal for lime-waxing or natural staining, but are very hard and are more difficult to work with. Usually the plainer the finish the more the moulding stands out! So go for mouldings with several paint and wash finishes as these will appear less prominent. You also then have a chance to match a colour in the picture.

How to select the right size and shape frame.
.... "If you do your job properly you should not see what you do at all"....
A frame moulding with a flat back is much easier to cut and to apply clamps. So avoid frames which slope backwards, (these are called reverse mouldings) and with a narrow or small back. ...no matter how good they look!!!!

Mouldings with some shape and contour to the front surface, together with multilayers of coulour washes will appear smaller, and you will make less mistakes using these types of mouldings. Mouldings in corner samples appear to be large when you are trying thjem in the frame shop.
Once the frame is made up the same moulding will look a lot smaller. So go for the larger size frame rather than the smaller sample.
How to measure and buy frame moulding

There is a simple formula for calculating the length of moulding required to build a frame to fit your picture.

Add the length (L) to the height (H) of the picture, double this sum, then add ten times the width (W) of the moulding being used. This takes care of the waste generated by making 8 mitre cuts, plus a small margin for error.

Before you cut - you must allow a small amount of clearance or play so that your picture fits into the frame easily - so add 3 mm (1/8”) to the length of each side - a total of 12mm or 1/2”.

Total Required = (L + H ) x 2 + 10 times the width of the molding.

How to Buy Moulding?

Mouldings are usually sold in 1.8 to 3m (6ft to 9ft) lengths, from specialist art shops, picture framers, or a builders’ merchant. You can purchase these by the length or cut

to size if the supplier offers such a service. This is called a ‘chop’ service, and is a good way to get started. A chop service can be mitred to the exact size or square cut so that you do the final mitre cut. FrameCo offers a chop service on all our mouldings and this is a good way to get started without a saw and measuring system

Frames shapes you should not buy.
The wider the moulding, the flatter it is and the harder the timber, the more impossible it is to cut and join successfully. So avoid flat wide mouldings especially in plain colours. They may appeal to you, but you will not obtain a satisfactory join.The question of the aesthetic balance is hard and much depends on the eye of the beholder. By trying various mouldings against the image and the chosen mount board colour, you will be able to pick the “right” moulding.Do this with the item to be framed with you, and never try to hold the colour and design in your head, selecting something from memory.
Saws Vs Mitre Trimmers Vs Sanders...which one?

We recommend the Nobex saw and the measuring system and that seems to be sufficient for most set ups. The measuring system is really important...because it makes sure you get two sides EXACTLY the same length.....and that gives you the perfect join.

As you become more ambitious you take on more complex mouldings, eg wider, glossier and more golds, and not all of these cut well on the saw...so that's when you introduce the Mitre Trimmer to your range of tools. But the Trimmer only gives you a final clean up shave..it does not cut the original length to size...so you precut all the sides approx 5mm longer, then shave off the excess to give you a perfect guillotine cut. To speed up that process you can precut the lengths with a cheap electric drop saw. It does not matter how accurate the mitres because you clean them up with the trimmer.

The same process can be done with a disc sander. But we find them not as accurate as the trimmer. The disc may not run true, the surface sandpaper may not be even across the whole surface, and getting the two sides exactly the same length is more difficult than with a Trimmer.

Generally the professional framing industry does not use power drop saws...a professional double mitre guillotine is the industry standard..but at several thousand -pounds or dollars...they are not practical for home use. And no matter what the brand of power saw you have you will not get a good result on all mouldings all the time...bold statement but true. For speed and less effort use a power saw and a trimmer...... for accurate "low volume" cutting use a hand suspension saw......and Nobex is the best of the bunch..but always attach a measuring system.

Cutting with the Mitre Trimmer

The Mitre Trimmer is used to "trim" the mitre AFTER it is precut with a saw. So you will first cut the four sides of the frame with a power or hand saw, making each side a fraction longer than the length you require. Then trim the sides down to the correct length. The Mitre Trimmer gives you an accurate guillotine cut which is far superior to the saw or sanding. A measuring system can be attached to the trimmer for accurate and consistant length measuring. It is ideal for diy home framing, as it is accurate, and good value considering the quality of the cut and ease of use. It is easy to set up, and the trimmer and measuring system fits onto any narrow bench...see picture below. The angle of each blade can be adjusted from 45 to 90 degres..so it can be used for multi sided framing. The blades can be resharpened for long life.

* Cut four sides with saw.
* Trim one end of each piece.
* Set the stop for the correct length.
* Trim other mitre down to size.
Cutting with a power Saw ... case study
I have recently purchased a Ryobi sliding compound saw for framing, I have put a 60 tooth TCT blade on but I find that the moulding splinters out from the back. any thoughts on a solution would be of great help. I have also thought about using a finer tooth blade, such as an 80 or 100 tooth blade, (I thought a finer tooth blade would give a smoother finish & no splintering) as a replacement for the 60 tooth. Thanks for any help or suggestions.
Graham Andrews

You could try placing some masking tape on the back side of the moulding. This may hold the fibers together whilst the saw blade passes through the timber. A finer blade will also make positive difference.

The problem is that you are cutting fine picture frame moulding with a saw created for the woodworking industry. The professional framing industry use a miter guillotine as first choice, and in busier workshops a double mitre saw is used for productivity reasons. These industrial saws feature large diameter saw blades with high number of teeth per inch (TPI).

Obviously we cannot use this type of equipment in the hobby field, however the small hand operated miter trimmer guillotine is a viable alternative and valuable addition to your workshop. Precut the frames first then trim them on the guillotine. This method is ideal for difficult to cut profiles such a gloss black and plain gold leaf mouldings. You can see more information on the guillotine at http://www.clubframeco.com/picture_frame_cutting.html

Why is a measuring system so important
You may have heard the saying.."measure twice and cut once". That's so true, but it does not guanantee you that your picture frame will go together without gaps in the corners. What is more important is get two sides the same length...exactly the same length. Its easy to cut one side for your frame, the hard part is to get two side exactly the same length. And the reason you need the sides to be the same length is beacuse that is what makes your frames go together without gaps in the corners. The FrameCo measuring system attaches to any hand operated manual or powered saw and there is also a system for the mitre trimmer. They ensures that two sides of your frame will be the same length. If you are happy with your saw and the blade and you are still unhappy with your frame corners, then install a measuring system for accurate frames..everytime.
What is the best blade to use in my hand saw

The Proman saw is usually supplied with an 18 TPI (teeth per inch) saw blade. Most hobby saws are supplied with this type of blade. There are three types of blade available, and you need to buy the same brand of blade as your saw because they are all different lengths. The teeth run left and right on all the blades, but the number of teeth per inch is what makes them different. The more teeth per inch the finer the cut..but also the slower the cut. Saw dust can also bind-up the blade in very fine teeth blades. The three grades of saw blade are...

1. 18 TPI...general purpose blade with a crosscut action. Ideal for recycled woods, hardwoods, stained and lacquered frame mouldings.

2. 24 TPI...Finer cut for plain black gloss , high quality gold and silver frames, and frame mouldings with a heavy "gesso" coating....( ie Gesso is the white layer you see under the surface finish of the frame)

3. 32 TPI...Usually reserved for cutting thin walled aliminium frames, or other non-ferrous metals.

Generally use a 18 TPI blade and have a spare 24TPI blade for gloss and gold mouldings.

What is the best blade to use in my electric power saw.
Most electic drop saws are supplied with a general purpose blade which is too course for cutting picture frame moulding. So it is best to change it to a carbide blade with at least 80 teeth. The more teeth will give you a better cut. Look also for a blade with a +positive rake, ie. this is where the front tip of the tooth is leaning forward of an imaginery vertical line. Cutting with a power saw can cause breakout and shipping at the rear of the moulding. This can be reduced by making the cut slowly, and covering the back of the frame piece being cut with masking tape.
What is a "Picture Framers Guillotine"

A "Picture Framers Guillotine" is the industry standard for cutting picture frames. There are several brands on the world market, but the most popular brand is the "Morso" made in Denmark. There is also a model made in France by the famous frame machinery manufacturer Cassese , an American version from Pistorius, and several copies from China. The Spanish, Italians and the English have all made versions of the same machine but the Morso is still the industry favorite.

* The head of the Guillotine can be moved back and forth, and it this forward action that enables the blades to cut through wide frames. So it may take 4-8 cuts to cut through a frame piece...but it is cutting two mitres at the one time.
* The Mitre Trimmer works in much the same way....multiple passes across the mitre "trims" the frame piece down to size. The Trimmer is much more affordable for home use.
* The Morso Guillotine is what we use at FrameCo to cut our frames for the "Chop Service". We reguarly sharpen the blades and calibrate the machine to maintain accuracy.
What is a "Chop" service?
A “Chop Service” is where we mitre chop the moulding to the size you require for your picture, then send the four sides ready for you to join. When measuring your artwork, please remember that we need to know the EXACT size of your picture. Our guillotine cutting system allows a 3mm or 1/8” extra as an allowance, so that your artwork will fit easily into the back of the frame once you have joined it.

* The Advantages of buying your frames using a "chop" servise are:
* Precision mitre cuts at 45.... No need to worry about the accuracy of your tools.
* There is no of waste material left over. You get the right amount of moulding you need,
* Cut accurately to the size that will fit your picture.
* No left overs means no storage problems and no waste.
* The costs of cutting and delivery can sometimes be less than the cost of leftovers or mistakes in cutting.
* With no cutting tools your start up costs for DIY framing are far less and its easier to get started.
* So . . . Chop! CHOP!.
What is sectional moulding and how is this used?
Sectional frames, are usually two sides of a frame sold in pairs, usually prepackaged, and in preset sizes. A genuine " Chop" service is where the frame is cut to exactly the size of your picture. Sectional frames are joined by using a plasic plug inserted into a slot predrilled into the mitred ends of each corner. Chop frames are usually joined using your hand operated V-nailing tools. If you do not have your own tools, but which to have a frame cut to the size you require then look for a Frame Kit service, where the frame is preassempled, the mat cut to size and plexiglass supplied and all fitted into the frame. FrameCo has a "made to measure" framing kit service coming soon.

If you cannot find the answer to your question click on the special FAQ "Answer Link" below and we will email you with suggestions and advice from our framing panel. This is a free service to all FrameCo visitors.
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