My wife tells me it costs $130 for a 16x20" picture frame

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My wife is framing artwork and told me she will spend about $130 for a 16x20" wooden frame.
Aghast, I asked for a breakdown. She replied: 1. Frame = $60 2. Mat = $30 3. Glass/plexiglass = $15/$30 4. Picture backing = $10 5. Frame backing = $5 6. Assembly = free (she will do the work)
Since she has actually done this quite a few times, I'm not disputing her figures (they must be correct, for her); but I can't but help believe that if I made the frame (with the right tools), it wouldn't cost me half of what she's planning on spending.
Do any of you have experience building picture frames?
I figure something like: FRAME: I'd uy pre-cut molding by the board foot (prices will vary); I'd pay the one-time charge for four L-clamps (I already have a chop saw); Glue, nails, brads, screws, wire (for hanging), eyehooks, etc, would be negligible.
MAT: I would buy the uncut mat; I realize these are expensive (acid free and all that); but they're amazingly expensive for a lousy piece of paper! Then I'd buy a mat-cutting tool (one-time charge).
GLASS/PLEXIGLASS: I'd buy the thinnest cheapest clearest stuff that works. To cut, I'd use a saw or knife or a cheap glass cutter on a flat table.
PICTURE BACKING: Unless it needs to be acid resistant, I'd dig into my trash pile for a thin piece of cardboard.
FRAME BACKING: I'd buy a cheap roll of plain brown wrapping paper to glue onto the entire back of the frame.
Have any of you done this before? Can it possibly cost her $130 but cost me less than half that (amortizing the one-time tool costs).
Any advice from the experienced?
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From years of experience I can tell you that if she says the sky is yellow, agree with her!
That aside..you left out the cost of the finishing materiels and your time plus 'cheap materiel = cheap product' usually.
Harry K
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On Thu, 16 Feb 2012 15:16:37 +0000 (UTC), Chuck Banshee

Sure, go to Goodwill or another "rummage" store. Piles of frames with pictures in them. I've got plenty in my basement my wife has "stored" there. Cost anywhere from 2-15 bucks. Some of the frames are really nice. And the paintings or prints. You can use your tools, clamps and fasteners to cut a bigger frame down to a smaller size if you don't find the exact size you want. $130 for a 16x20 is laughable to me. But people buy at that kind of price all the time. That's what ends up at rummage stores for 2 bucks. Glass would be the main expense. And glassed frames might cost more at the rummage store. We don't have any of those. All unglassed oil and water paintings. Glassed frames are going to be made differently. But I've seen plenty of them at the rummage stores too. Never bought any though.
--Vic
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On 2/16/2012 10:46 AM, Vic Smith wrote:

Framing needs for "artwork" vs inexpensive prints would vary. First, style of frame....wide, ornate molded or carved frames or molding cost a lot. The mat and backing should be acid-free for quality art. Mat board is fairly expensive and not easy to cut well. Glass should have UV blocking, not a biggie.
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wrote:

As soon as you say "art" quintuple the price. And that ends up at rummage stores too. We've got some wide ornate frames here too. As in the wife saying, "Just the frame is worth 10 times what I paid." Most of them are stacked in the basement. I just looked, and I take back what I said about no glass frames. Some of them too. Saw a couple about 18x30 and a smaller one in one stack..
Anyway, I don't know if it's practical for the OP to do it that way. My wife haunts those stores. She visits at least 3 stores a week. Hell, she has loads of perfect crystal, including a crystal Tiffany candy dish she paid 50 cents for. Picture frames found in rummage stores are normally not perfect, and could use touching up.
Only mentioned it because my wife wanted a frame for something and I told her I would cut one to size of her choosing from the stacks of them. She thought that a good idea. Wouldn't need any special razor cutting either, just a fine tooth circ blade and a piece of sandpaper. I've done some joinery that turned out just fine with that. I would join the corners with the recommended fasteners for frames. Already have corner clamps if gluing is recommended.
But since she quickly forgot about whatever it was she wanted framed, I'll probably never do it. Could be a good hobby though if the OP is woodworking-inclined. Otherwise, just pay the piper.
--Vic
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wrote:

And the glass should be non-glare. If it isn't it will match the glare from an unhappy spouse.
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On 2/16/2012 8:16 AM, Chuck Banshee wrote:

try rec.woodworking
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sounds like they really haven't gone up much since I was doing a bit of photography in the 80's.

Sadly, yes. If I have an idea for a frame that I just can't buy, then I'll build it. Otherwise, it is well worth what the frame shops get for them.

Take a look at what she's using. If you can find molding as well finished and with as big a selection [cherry, mahogany, maple, ash, oak, brass, aluminum -- sometimes with 2-3 of those in one piece] as she's used to, go for it.

You might be able to save some money on those things if you buy them online-- OTOH, a good frame shop will have a good selection and is a handy thing to have survive in town.

I've got 3 of them. [an exacto knife; a little deal that looks like a block plane; and a big ole thing that has tracks that the cutters ride on] I wasted a lot of matboard before I went back to buying precut. Again--- If I was doing something that wasn't available commercially, it was worth the time/effort/wasted material to do it myself.

You can cut your own glass. Be sure to get UV, low acid glass/plastic-- not window glass.

I doubt you'll save 1/2.
I doubt you can make it look as good as a purchased frame. if she is entering these in any competitions the judges will be distracted by anything that isn't 'normal'. [could be good or bad]
It will take you a *lot* of time. That might be a good thing, and you may enjoy it, and she may love your frames. Or she might *not* like your frames, and you may resent the time you're spending on *her* hobby.

Frame making experience says- don't do it to save money. Marriage experience says- unless she asks, don't even bring it up.
Jim
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On 2/16/2012 9:02 AM, Jim Elbrecht wrote:

low acid glass or plastic? what's that?
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On Thu, 16 Feb 2012 09:21:43 -0700, chaniarts

Sort of like that "low oxygen" speaker wire audiofools buy.
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-snip-
Brain fart? got my papers and plastics mixed up. I was thinking of the outgassing that plexiglass was guilty of when I was doing it many years ago. nobody seems concerned about it now, so either it never was a problem, or just isn't anymore.
That said- the reflectivity and UV resistance are the things to look for in glass or plastic. Unlikely that Lowe's will have what you want to use.
Jim
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I have the same stuff - a Dexter mat cutter (the block plane jobbie) and one with tracks. Mat cutting is an art that took lots of tries to make a bevel cut opening that doesn't "overrun" one of the other cuts. I ended up buying pre-cut mats, even with the set of three cutters.
Like anything else, someone who does framing day in and day out is going to be (usually) a hell of a lot better at it than the occasional framer. I used to just buy the metal frame pieces (pewter and chrome, mostly) that came with little "L" shaped pieces of metal you screwed into each corner of the frame to hold it tight. A roll of picture hanging wire and a piece of sized glass and I was good to go. I wouldn't buy the tools unless I intended to do at least 5 or 10 frames. If someone's never framed anything before, I would expect the first couple of frames to be less than perfect.
Vic's suggestion to look for second-hand frames has a lot of merit.
-- Bobby G.
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Chuck Banshee wrote:

You may be right for a cheap looking frame. If you get into frames that are carved and colored (to enhance the picture, and non reflective glass or plastic, the price is much higher, but the result is much better. I think the choice depends on whether you are framing art, or a picture of your dog.
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The only thing I might add is that you need to make sure that the glass that you use will block UV light, because if you are framing anything valuable or antique you do not want it to fade. I'd also suggest using something like mat board for the backing rather than plain cardboard, to prevent damage to whatever you're framing. Other than that, you could easily realize some savings by doing it yourself.
Pricing she gave does not seem horribly out of line, that's about what I was recently quoted for framing some similar sized stuff that I found of my late grandfather's that I wanted to turn into wall hangy thingys (I found some very old topo maps of the area in which he lived in among his hunting/fishing stuff, aside from the fact that they're cool, they also show some areas that I fondly remember hunting and fishing with him.)
nate
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On 2/16/2012 10:16 AM, Chuck Banshee wrote:

Custom frames can be pricey. Obviously cheaper to buy one already made. Might be tough to satisfy wife as even if you find fit, she may not like the framing material.
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responding to http://www.homeownershub.com/maintenance/my-wife-tells-me-it-costs-130-for-a-16x20-picture-frame-685009-.htm DA wrote: Chuck Banshee wrote:

All of the above sounds reasonable to me. I mean, I'd cut my own mat but I already have the cutter, which will set you back more than $30, and lots of leftovers for the mat material - also not cheap. I'd probably use some of my scrap material for the backing (unless it should be especially thick or some other special requirement exists). But a nice frame will easily set you back $60, just like she said. If I know anything about marriage, she'd probably reason that her time and efforts to pick the right one are worth more than that anyhow :)

What was the artwork worth anyway? If it's several times the cost of framing, I would not even bother arguing. If it's _HER_ drawing/needlework or one of my kids' drawings, I wouldn't either. I may offer some input on the mounting hardware, but that's about it.
------------------------------------- /\_/\ ((@v@)) NIGHT ():::() OWL VV-VV
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"> Can it possibly cost her $130 but cost me less than half that (amortizing

Good luck finding picture frame molding. I had a friend who did a lot of framing, I had the tools but we could never find the bulk picture frame stock.
We figured out that the framing places paid off the home improvement stores and told them not to carry it.
We did find some one at a Hechinger's just two styles.
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It's VERY tough to get a nice tight joint at the corner on a picture frame. You can't just set the chop saw at 45 degrees, and make 8 cuts. Chop saws are simply not that accurate.
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Chuck Banshee wrote:

You forgot about...
Framer's rent Framer's time Framer's assorted overhead expenses Framer's profit. __________________________

Yes
Frame moldings aren't sold by the board foot; they are normally sold by the "united length" (length + widh +-).
It is also unlikely that you would be able to buy them as they are normally wholesale and "to the trade". _____________________
Have any of you done this before?

The tool costs are not insignificant. I still have a framing vise, paid about $90 for it 30+ years ago. A mat cutter will set you backsomewhere between $70 and $300. A paper cutter is real handy to have, not cheap these days. Mat board isn't real expensive but how many will you ruin before you can cut a nice, beveled mat? Then there are the waxes to fill nail holees, etc.

If you can find a frame supply place, you might be able to save some money if they will sell to you. One normally buys the needed frame pieces cut to size (on a guillotine). You don't need a special framing vice (or nails) to join them, I always used CA glue; you DO need some way of holding pieces together while the clue cures and you DO need to prep the surfaces...the surfaces won't be real smooth; you fix that by rubbing a piece of chalk over them, blow off excess; the CA glue soaks in, makes it hard and smooth. Depending on what you are framing, you need neither mat nor glass.
Some manufacturers also have very nice pre-made frames in many sizes. I used to buy hand carved, gold leaf frames from Levin & Co.; a 16x20 ran about $10-$12, retailed for $50-$75; they'd be at least 2-3X as much now but so would the retail. I see their minimum order is only $25 but is for pros.
http://www.levinframes.com/new_product_browser.php?page=1&sec=8
--

dadiOH
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Amortizing? This is most likely a one-time buy. What is other projects are you going to spread the costs on?
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