BIG ruler

I recently bought a lovely bit of gear that’s made my life much easier. A BIG ruler. Big in every sense. One point two metres long and made from a massive extrusion of aluminium. It’s fantastic to hold in the hand, it feels like something you’d build bridges out of.

Keencut Safety Edge with just-cut sheet of 2mm MDF framing board
Keencut Safety Edge with just-cut sheet of 2mm MDF framing board

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Framers Corner PFK04 Frame Joiner review

Framers Corner PFK04
Framers Corner PFK04 unpacked out of the box

One of the key pieces of kit I bought to let me make frames is a frame joiner called the Framers Corner PFK04. It lets you join two sides of the frame using V-nails. Professional framers use a big, expensive piece of gear called an underpinner to do this. The PFK04 is one of the cheaper options at £79. My hope was that it would give me all the quality of a bigger machine but sacrificing productivity. Well, here’s my experience of using it for a short while. I’ve now made about twenty frames in sizes from 30×40 cm to 50×60 cm with mostly good results but that’s not entirely down to the PFK04. Continue reading

Making my own frames

I’ve taken on a new venture – making my own picture frames. I’ve been using ready-made frames until now but I’ve long wanted to make my own. I’ll be writing a bit about my experiences of doing this, the equipment I’m using and the lessons learned. I’m hoping also to add the option of a frame to my Etsy on-line shop so you can buy a print that is ready to hang.

Newly made frames
Newly-made frames, in solid wood, made by me.

Why not just stick to buying ready-made? Well, several reasons. First, I really stress to all customers I speak to that “I do everything myself”. I’m very proud that I’m selling my own work, printed by me, mounted by me. This isn’t true of all traders at the markets I attend so I make it a point of difference. The one thing I haven’t been able to say is that I make my own frames – until now. This is also important for my Etsy shop – Etsy has a policy that you must make everything yourself.

Second, the ready made frames are made from MDF, not solid wood. They’re very good quality, very solid and they look great but it’s going to be nice to say “solid wood frames”. Making them myself means I can get the cost price down to near the ready-made MDF price but for a really nice solid wood moulding. The difference isn’t immediately obvious but when you pick them up you can see and feel the extra quality. The vast majority of market traders selling framed pictures use the same ready-made frames as I do so it will be nice to differentiate with a better quality product.

Third, I can make non-standard sizes. I’d like to start selling wide-format (panoramic) shots but at the moment I can’t find a standard-sized ready-made frame for those sizes. That won’t be a problem if I make my own.

I can also decide to try different mouldings, perhaps for special pictures or projects.

So far I’ve only made nine frames (one of which wasn’t a success, so I’ve got eight that I can use). Results have been mixed – the quality is there, the end result is great, but the labour involved is much more than I expected and I’m only managing to make two a day. It doesn’t take me all day to make two, it’s the glue-drying-while-sitting-in-the-clamp time that’s the bottleneck.

Frame setting in the clamp
A newly made frame in a band clamp while the glue dries.

I’m quite excited though. I’ve started to dream about making frames, a sure sign that I’m getting a little over-obsessed by it. I’ll hopefully have my first hand-made frames for sale at my next West Didsbury market at the end of next week, Sunday the 30th September.

New work in my Etsy shop

I’ve added some new pictures to my Etsy shop. This is part of the on-going work to move all my on-line sales to Etsy, which has better payment and ordering options. Anyway, if you fancy taking a look, here it is.

It’s surprising how much work it takes to do this. Nine new pictures have taken me most of the afternoon. One of the hardest parts is writing the descriptions. This means getting the maps out, tracking my position and what’s in the frame, what the hill tops are, what the valley features are, etc. Worth it though, I’ve been told that this detail is part of what makes my Etsy shop interesting.

I also have to make the framed shot for each picture. For each one I have the full size shot, plus a shot of the print inside a frame. I cheat to do this. I took a picture of an empty frame, then I composite the actual image into the empty frame. The end result is indistinguishable from reality except for the lack of the signature and title in the mount border.