After getting a mat cutter, I can do my own framing. One problem area is
getting the miters together. I glue the joints, let dry and then tap in a
couple wire brads in for extra strength. The last two frames went together
without a hitch, but this one is a real pain. As I'm nailing, the glue joint
breaks apart. It has happened in the past on some frames. I can't afford an
expensive machine. I'm hoping for a low cost way or better method to get
these frames assembled without the frustration.
Thanks for any information, John
IF...... your miter joints are not perfect 45's and or IF the parallel sides
of the frame are not exactly the same length you will have trouble keeping
the corners closed.
If you use a band clamp, a strap that wraps around the whole assembled and
glued frame and corners, the band will keep every thing aligned properly.
Shoot or nail a brad through the band webbing.
If the frames are flat on the back and wide enough you can pocket hole the
Best solution is to brad while in the clamp(s). Second is to drill and brad
after clamps are off. A pneumatic driver is preferable to the manual kind,
Depending on your taste, you might want to try a tablesaw, router, or
biscuit joiner jig to do splines. For big pictures you can put biscuits
half way deep across the miters from the back, then saw or abrade the proud
Free advice - DON'T let others know you can make frames and do mats, or
you'll end up doing little else - for money of course.
A pneumatic brad nailer is probably the closest to a permanent answer. It
eliminates the 'bounce' you get when using a hammer. The only other solution,
if it's still available, is a brad setter or pusher, a device that lets you
push the brad in. Most woodworking mail order companies used to carry them.
"Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for
President. One hopes it is the same half." Gore Vidal
Aren't those specifically made for pushing pins in to hold the
painting in the frame, as the picture shows, not to hold the
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There are several different types of metal fasteners that could be used,
depending on the particular frame (check LeeValley, etc.). In all cases,
however, I would add them while the glue is still wet and the clamps are on.
For wire brads you normally don't need a pilot (depending on the frame, wood,
etc.) but you could still drill one very slightly smaller than the brad with a
I would suggest using the "V nails" designed for the purpose.
They will create a strong, lasting connection.
Now...how to get them INTO the wood. You *can* pick up one
of the really expensive tools designed for this. Or...you can get
the 1/2 ton Arbor Press from Harbor Freight for $30 or less (sometimes
on sale for under $20). A friend of mine, whose wife is into framing,
picked one of these up and, also picked up a rare-earth magnet from
Woodcraft. By putting the magnet on the end of the ram, and the V
Nail up against the magnet, the V Nail is held solidly vertical for
getting it started in the wood. Once started, it can be pressed in
without the magnet. We discussed drilling a small hole into the end
of the ram, to recess the magnet but, it works ok just to move it to
finish off the press. This works great, by the by, if you are doing
fairly small numbers of frames...say one every few days or weeks. If
production is an issue...then, get a more sophisticated tools.
In any case, do not try to pound the V Nails into the frame.
That will lead to a lot of practices re-cutting frames.
This sounds like a very clever set-up. And, rather quick. And low $$ So,
I was surprised to read your comment that it is not good for more than "one
every few days". Maybe not for 20/day, but it would seem that this setup
would take maybe a few minutes/frame to do the insertion - because of the
magnet initiall use. Could you clarify this? How long does it take to do
Also, you seem to be implying that a hand tool for this, such as
http://www.rockler.com/ecom7/product_details.cfm?&sku 547&cs=1, is
unlikely to be effective. My hunch is that you are right about this, but
Rockler has a decent rep.
TIA. -- Igor
Well, having re-read my posting, I suspect that I was a bit
extreme in my evaluation as to the quantities...I suppose I was trying
to put as big a gulf between the idea of "casual use" and "production"
as possible. The fact of the matter is that when one is warmed up
and practiced, it only takes 30 seconds or so per nail. The big
problem that we ran into was getting supports for the frame set up
so it would hold it level and solid. Getting to that point, though
can mean that you will spend a couple of minutes or so per nail.
I suspect that if I had to do much of this sort of thing,
I would build a jig that held the arbor press in a recess, so the
press table was flush with a support surface.
Yea...looks pretty spiffy, but, the one that I laid hands on,
from Woodcraft (actually pretty much the identical tool) was not
terribly usable. There were a couple of problems with it. First off,
it is surprising hard to push a nail into wood, even if that wood is
a fairly soft one, like Poplar or Pine. So...a lot of pressure is
needed to get that push (especially with the large surface area
presented by the V nail. Secondly, it is really REALLY hard to
push straight enough to keep the nail from flopping over and
disappearing into unknown crevices in the shop...often leaving the
frame with a nasty dent, and sometimes one's fingers with a
cut/bruise. There were a couple of times during the testing that
the nail got far enough into the wood of the frame that, when the
handle twisted and pushed it over, that it cracked the frame a bit.
I am sure there are folks that have great results with the tool,
but, I and my friend had NO luck at all.
It was SUCH a breeze to use the arbor press that it made
setting the nails a pleasure instead of a fearsome chore. And...as
pointed out before...the press, even when not on sale, is cheaper than
(and in Woodcraft's case...a LOT cheaper) than the push tool.
[snip for length]
Dave -- Thanks for the expanded post. Very helpful. For the $20 - $30 of
the press, when I get to frame making I may well go that route. (I'll be
making maybe 20-30, total. All simple square stock, relieved edge. Light
wood. Maybe ash, or something a bit softer.) I do have a brad nailer and
that might work fine, but the V-nails should snug things up - and, no nail
recesses to fill on the sides of the frame.
Again, I especially like that magnet-jig approach. Rube Goldberg solutions
can be fun and effective, but I love the clever-simple ones even better.
And, IMO, this is the kind of thing at which HF excels. Your idea and a
good miter jig/sled for the TS and I should be in good idiot-resistant
shape. -- Igor
Indeed. While it WORKS to shoot brads in from the ends, I
have never found that to be a really effective approach, as it is kind
of hard to ensure that the miter stays together, or the glue line is
not broken. There is a lot to be said for the V nails.
The really challenging frames are the fancy ones with a large
bead on a flat background. One almost has to cut a custom cradle for
those puppies, to keep from flattening the molding when the nail is
pressed in. Sounds like YOURS will be quite a bit simpler.
Well, *smile*, after 25+ years as an IT consultant and support
person, I have GREAT faith in the ability of folks to attract
disaster...but, it sounds like you are going a long way towards
avoiding MOST of them.
About the magnet...I meant to mention that Woodcraft has some
small rare earth magnets that are about 1/4" or 3/8" in diameter for
a couple of dollars apiece that work perfectly for this purpose.
I am sure that Rockler, Radio Shack and other places have them
Way to go, Dave, for small runs or one-offs. There's a wee hand-held device
called a Pushmaster (DAGS), which holds these V-shaped fasteners while you
hammer them in, and only costs a few bucks. Next step up is a similar device
held in something like a drill-press, which holds your mitred mouldings in a
clamp, while you manually press the v-shaped nail into the joint with the
"press". Then you can move up to a fancy jig which clamps everything up,
while a foot operated Bowden-cable-operated device shoves the nail in from
underneath. Then the next step is a pneumatically-operated setup, which
clamps the mitre, squeezes it together, then fires in the fastener, which is
what you'd use for serious production work.
I'd say that the Pushmaster, with a good cast-iron mitre clamp, is the way
you need to go for your level of production. With normal yellow glue or PVA,
it makes a strong joint, you get rid of the need for multiple expensive
clamps (because the nail holds the joint together while the glue dries) and
you can churn out a batch without having to wait for the glue to dry before
the clamp becomes available. If you find your level of production creeping
up, you can buy the add-on drill-press device to speed things up without
breaking the bank.
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Got a compressor? Pick up a Harbor Freight brad nailer
($15 on sale) or 1/4" crown stapler ($25 on sale).
I picked up their 40072 (also see 40073 and 40116) for
$25 on sale and they work great. I got it for upholstery
work but have reassembled neighbors' birdhouses, too.
The 40052 nailer is on sale for $13.99 right now.
If you don't have a compressor, buy the stapler or brad
nailer anyway. Give it to your neighbor who does have a
compressor and ask to borrow both. ;)
Without a compressor:
Otherwise, drill -holes- for the nails before sinking
them. This will take the stress off the process of nailing.
Also put the frame up against a corner when nailing to keep
it from racking.
In Christianity, neither morality nor religion comes into contact
with reality at any point. --FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE
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If you have a tablesaw, make a jig that will ride against the fence
and hold the frame corner down so you can cut a thin kerf thru the
corner, then fit a spline - gives tremendous strength as well as being
decrative if you use contrasting colored wood for the spline
Check out this link http://tinyurl.com/4tyaw . In particular note the author
is a proponent of V-nails for the corners and indicates it can be done
successfully with a hammer and a pair of needle nose pliers. I use the
professional framer's cast iron vice shown on the website. The Taiwanese
version is good quality and costs about $50. I can attest that its excellent
and easy to use.
I did not read any of the follow ups so I hope this is not repetative.
Firstly, tack your joints together with a few drops of hyde glue or CA
glue...Less is more here
Secondly, hold the joints one at a time in a 90' vise (make one or
Lastly, run in the brads with either a mechanical insertion tool or a
pnuematic brad nailer. The vibration from your hammer will defeat
Thanks for all the great information.
On a side note, I'll have to try some of these methods out soon. After
acquiring a mat cutter, I have a bunch matted prints to put in to frames. I
used to do all the framing myself except the mats. I can't believe how much
I was paying to have a shop make a double mat for me. Now I buy a couple
sheets of 32x40 board at $5.50, a piece, I can get three or four small
pictures out of the sheets at about $3.00 - $5.00 per frame. The shop would
have charged $20 to $30 each. The mat cutter will pay for itself quick.
I got a Fletcher MatMate. There's a 32" and 40" model. I got the 40" out of
the fear that I'd need the extra 8" on a large piece sometime. It makes
cutting perfectly aligned double and triple mats a snap.
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