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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys!

Im looking into opening a Picture Frame Shop, i have the Router figured out (Triton TRA001) and will attach it to a table, i will be using this to do my own frames ONLY, in your expert opinion what is the best brand for performance / durability, price is not an issue as long it makes sense, for example if Product A is twice as much as Product B but it lasts 3x more.. I hear alot of mixed reviews about Freud and Yonico, not sure those are really the best anymore.

Ideally i would like to buy WHOLE profile bits that would do the molding in one go, but if you guys think its best practise to buy simplier bits and create my own profiles with them, thats fine aswell, i will be starting with 5 different woods, 5 profiles would give the customers 25 options, i just want to make sure they are the best quality bits and ideally that i can purchase them individually and not in 30-50 bits sets where i will only use 10% of them, just not worth the investment.

Looking forwards your input, thanks in advance!
 

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Might want to fill in your personal info, name, experience, location, and all.

My personal input is, don't quit your day job. I've known a number of people who quit their job to start a business, and rapidly went out of business. Start it on the side, see if you make money, and if you get to the point where you are making as much with your side job as your regular job, then think about quitting your day job.

Dunno about the bits. I just buy decent quality bits, whatever brand is available at the time, and they tend to last me for years. Some of the other guys will tell all you need to know about bits.

And, we like pictures, lots, and lots, of pictures.
 

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Marcio; hey, welcome!
Are you in the US?
The general consensus seems to be that Whiteside is the best...but keep in mind, these are bits available at retail. There are custom bits and industrial bits out there that most of us have no access to. In some case the industrial bits are prohibitively expensive for we hobbyists.
As an example CMT makes three grades of bits:
The first link is an interesting read...
http://www.cmtutensili.com/media/files/143_1305_woodmagazine_cmt_perfect10.pdf
Router bits - CMT Woodworking Tools
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the business tip, but working on the side wont be a possibility, the framing side is just a portion of the business plan, its a big risk i know, but there is no rewards without risks in life! haha
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks Danin!

Im from Europe (Portugal).
Thank you for the links, i will definitely take a look at that.

I dont believe i would be needing an industrial grade bit, i dont plan on running wood thro a single bit 8h a day haha, but i will take a look at this CMT brand as i heard of it before.

Cheers!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Just checked the industrial grade bits from CMT and the prices are actually pretty much inline with the ones from Freud, both are a steep value but if their durability compensates the difference, may still be in game.
It almost seems that most people go for the Yonico tho, saying that the price difference compensates in terms of durability against high price brands such as Freud, lets see if we have some people here in the forum with prior experience to these, would be great to hear from experts vs amazon reviews.
 

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If you are really planing on getting into making picture frame molding to make money off, you should really look at getting a molder. Hundreds of complex shapes can be made in a single pass (or a couple passes with really deep profiles). The molder holds the material securely and feeds it pass the cutter head.
The cutters can produce hundreds if not thousands of feet of molding before sharpening.

Using a router to make complex moldings is something a hobbyist would do to make a couple dozen feet of molding, or for making one offs.

It’s ok to start out with a router to see if you can make any money, but you won’t be making real money using a router requiring numerous passes and setups to create a complex profile.


In woodworking there is always more then one way to accomplish something.
 

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I make picture frames, but do not mill the wood yet. The tool I find most useful is a miter trimmer. This tool first was made about the 1880 as the Lyon miter trimmer. Mine is identical but made by Grizzly. It produces a perfect 45 or 90 degree cut. You rough cut to size, then use the trimmer to trim off a very thin amount from the ends. You can buy supports with stops to help make exactly matching lengths. I use a sliding miter to get a really good 45, then perfect it on the trimmer. Picture attached. The second picture is of a frame I made that has a two tone finish.

Mine is mounted on a piece of ply. If I were using it in a frame shop, I'd set up the tool on a larger table so that the wings were fixed in a precise position. I'd also consider replacing the manufacturer's wings so I'd have a longer set for the larger frames I's want to be making for artist clients.

As with any business, marketing, the courting and development of customers, especially regular customers, is the key.

I found a couple of books on the topic. "Making Picture Frames in Wood," by Manly Banister, is interesting. The other is very specialized, "Starting up a Gallery and Frame Shop, by Annabelle Ruston. It includes business, marketing, sales, inventory and other topics from the viewpoint of a business standpoint. Both are in the used book market. I think locating in a well-to-do area where the arts are pursued seriously, would be wise. Low rent won't help much if no one in the area is willing to pony up the fare for a great frame, or the art that goes in it. You will have to reach out in your marketing effort, you won't get much walk-by business. I'd also want to be very visible in the arts communities, among galleries and art brokers of modern works.

Forgive me for my marketing emphasis, but I teach the topic as a consultant and always think this way.
 

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I agree with using a modding machine if you are planning on modest to high production. You can make intricate frames with simple bits but it requires multiple passes and multiple setups. In other words it wouldn’t likely be profitable. I’ve made some like that. I think the pictures are in the first 2 or 3 oldest pages of my uploads. I also recommend if you do it that way you have a horizontally mounted router. The problem with doing it on a standard router table is that you are removing wood that is needed to keep the wood piece stable on the table top.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Terry;
Thanks, i agree that a molder would be much more cost effective, but as of now i dont antecipate that much work load on complex profiles, so a router will do the job for the time being, even if having to do 2-3 passes with different bits (the time to change bits and adjust the settings are the worst) i will still create some stock on that same profile for future use, so i wouldnt be creating a profile for when i have a single order, i will stock it up.

Danin;
Thanks for that brand link, that PDF also shows quite some good brands comparation, i do know which are the best brands by now and they are much alike on pricing, the only thing im still researching is the very cheap Yonico bits which seems to last half the time of the big brands, for a fraction of the price, would be much more cost effective, further research needed on this brand as i hear mix reviews about it.

Tom;
Thanks for the info!
I figured with a sturdy well calibrated at 45.0º sliding miter i would get perfect cuts, am i wrong? Using of course the best blades around (Diablo 90T).
My business will be fully online so location is not a factor, framing is just a portion of it, i will have an e-commerce side of it for canvas aswell and acrylics, basically i will be offering the highest quality products around and not the garbage that most big companies sell with latex inks and non-stretching systems.
Awesome frame you got there!

Chuck;
Yes i agree, but the amount of work for now wont justify a molder, i will just use a router and stock up some inventory for the profiles i do to save some time, in the future if the production rises substancially i will definitely aquire one! The table for the router wont be an already-made one, i will create a simple one where you can very easily switch from vertical to horizontally routing, with top access like the normal Router Tables have (compatible with the Router Triton TRA001). Cheers!
 

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Professional framers make money because they buy-in the mouldings which of course come in many styles and finishes and use a foot operated guillotine which cuts out a perfect 45° V. They also use a foot operated machine which presses V "nails" into each corner. Hobby versions of both machines are readily available.
I know the above because a good friend of mine living close by has a partime framing business in addition to his turning and general fine woodworking business.
 

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Marcio; there are very good reasons for the price differences between brands, and they really matter. One of the most critical is the finish of the cut. You want the absolute best finished surface (of the cut) possible...no sanding if at all possible! For what you're planning 'fuzzing/fuzz' will be a nightmare, production wise. Another consideration is the thickness and quality of the Carbide; you want to be able to get at least two or three professional sharpenings out of a new bit.
For a hobbyist, using less than premium quality can perhaps be justified by amount of expected usage, and frankly, budget. I don't think those are realistic reasons for a professional application.
In theory at least, whatever the cost of tooling it should be built into the calculated selling price of the product...it's not supposed to come out of your profit margin!
ie. A $50.00 bit over 100meters of moulding would add $.50 per meter to your cost. That's not cheap, and that doesn't include at least one sharpening, or your labour.
Like the others have mentioned, you might want to reconsider the shaper option...
 

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don't forget a miter knife...
 
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don't forget a miter knife...
Did you mean "trimmer"? Miter knives googled show a branch grafting tool. There are a number of trimmers out there beside the Lion style. Our local framing shop has a trimmer mounted on a steel post with 6 foot long arms to position stock on. I can't imagine a shop without a high quality trimmer. But the local shop purchases most of its stock in bundles.

I have used the router to cut shallow grooves in which I glue trim pieces, such as the decorative molding strips in the picture below. You can use a table saw or router to shape the wood and the router to soften those shapes. If you shape the top side, leave the bottom and sides flat until the last, which is when you cut any angle you want on the outside of the frame, and then the rabbet for the canvas stretcher or art to sit in. Keeping three sides flat will give you a base for your final cuts and refining.

I would also suggest making a highly waxed assembly table with perfectly square L shaped pieces to brace the frame for fitting and glue up. The open shape will make it easier to use different size frames.

Length of raw stock is an issue as well. The length of a frame is determined by the length of each dimension of the art, plus a quarter inch to allow for fitting and trimming, plus double the width of the frame stock. The mitered section is equal to the width of the stock. The width, lenght of the art or frame stretcher for a painting (plus a quarter inch) is the inside dimension of the frame. The outside is that, plus twice the width of the frame material. Measure the frame stretcher (canvas) carefully, and measure to include the fold over at the corners of the canvas. This can add an eighth inch. The quarter inch spare will be eaten up by the trimming of 1/32nd to 1/16 th inch on the miter trimmer.

This means that 3 inch wide stock on a 24x36 painting will be
2 ft inside dimentions
Inside length 24 1/4"
Add width x 2 6"
TOTAL 30 1/4"

3 ft inside dimensions
Inside length 36 1/4"
Add width x 2 6'
TOTAL 42 1/4"

Total minimum length of stock including 6 inches of waste.
30 1/4 x 2 = 60 1/2
42 1/4 x 2 = 84 1/2
TOTAL + 6" = 151"

That's about 13 ft of stock, which can be hard to find, particularly if you're careful to not get checked or twisted stock. So that likely means buying two pieces and jointing and planing a bit oversized material. If you're using a high quality hardwood, that can be extremely expensive, and if there's a twist, knot or other imperfection, you'll have to buy 50 to 100% more. Pre finished frame stock of hard woods are made from imperfection free wood, we're talking high-priced premium material.

That process and cost is why frames for oversized art costs hundreds of dollars. And that cost, plus profit for a LOT of hand work, is why market must aim for the well to do who deal in art work. Many artists can't afford such luxuries. Serious galleries (who can afford such services) would be one of the targets of my marketing. I'd plan to go to every exhibition and artist's showing in your region for starters.

Finishing is also a big issue. Your stain and finish work must support the tone of the painting or artwork, which is another reason why commercial stock comes pre-finished as well as raw. Pre finished material is the choice of many frame shops, which means keeping an inventory on hand of the most popular materials. Count on several thousand bucks to keep that inventory up to a workable minimum.

Most of the time, I use unfinished, shaped material (mostly pine) to make my frames. The picture of 9 strips are examples, and are available easily at Lowes or HD This is normally pretty thin stuff, so I use straight 7/8th pine on the back to form the rabbet. This stock must be perfectly flat, so it gets jointed and planed, then cut to width, then usually has the outside edge cut at a slight angle for appearance sake (I want the decorative frame to be prominent). This is cut square, not mitered and is really a rail and style. This piece can have small knots, and I'd cover the exposed ends with iron on or glued on strips.. It also serves to flatten slightly warped frame front material.

Pine needs to be finished carefully, and I generally use sanding to do this. Another picture below shows the shaped sanding blocks I use for this--the make sanding pretty easy. I use a sanding sealer to raise the grain and before sanding, which with 220 grit gives a wonderfully smooth finish. I don't use paper backed sandpaper anymore. I find the new flex backed 3M sanding medium is much better, faster, lasts a long time and conforms to the shape nicely. A scraper would be a possible choice depending on the shape.

If I had a frame business, I'd offer the pine alternative, but would also show samples of my construction method I described above.

Hopefully this will be helpful to others who are making picture frames. They are a lot more difficult to produce than you might think, particularly if they are for sale.
 

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Excellent info, Tom!
Over the years I've seen so many frame shops go under, in large part due to leasing costs in an ever climbing real estate market. On the one hand there's visibility in a commercial zone; on the other there's the huge reduction in overhead working out of a home shop. With a good marketing plan the residential option would seem like the obvious choice, assuming it doesn't violate local zoning restrictions. Just what everyone needs, whiny neighbours! ;)
 

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If you are really planing on getting into making picture frame molding to make money off, you should really look at getting a molder. Hundreds of complex shapes can be made in a single pass (or a couple passes with really deep profiles). The molder holds the material securely and feeds it pass the cutter head.
The cutters can produce hundreds if not thousands of feet of molding before sharpening.

Using a router to make complex moldings is something a hobbyist would do to make a couple dozen feet of molding, or for making one offs.

It’s ok to start out with a router to see if you can make any money, but you won’t be making real money using a router requiring numerous passes and setups to create a complex profile.


In woodworking there is always more then one way to accomplish something.
If you are really planing on getting into making picture frame molding to make money off, you should really look at getting a molder. Hundreds of complex shapes can be made in a single pass (or a couple passes with really deep profiles). The molder holds the material securely and feeds it pass the cutter head.
The cutters can produce hundreds if not thousands of feet of molding before sharpening.

Using a router to make complex moldings is something a hobbyist would do to make a couple dozen feet of molding, or for making one offs.

It’s ok to start out with a router to see if you can make any money, but you won’t be making real money using a router requiring numerous passes and setups to create a complex profile.


In woodworking there is always more then one way to accomplish something.
Terry Q, I think you nailed it. As a router table AND CNC user, I would STILL be looking for a molder instead. If I just HAD to try routing it first, I'd check at magnate.net for some possible larger profiles that might save some time. While their quality isn't on par with Whiteside, they are good enough to experiment with while MarcioSilva decides which way to go. A half-inch dia. bit will also vibrate less, making it my second choice (after the molder).
 

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After using TRA001 for more than10 years and cutting the most intriguing profiles with it, my advice to you is: go and buy the ready-made profiles for your frames.
My second advice: do not give your potential customer choice of profile that you don't already have in stock.
 

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...With a good marketing plan the residential option would seem like the obvious choice, assuming it doesn't violate local zoning restrictions. Just what everyone needs, whiny neighbours! ;)
I think you're right about the home based option. What you save on commercial rent, you spend of fuel and phones to reach out to high potental buyers.

I can't seem to recall where I posted it, but I did post on the marketing possibilities for frames. Very similar to a post on making money with CNC.
 

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If you have read what Desert Rat Tom, has said, He has given you very sound advice. He has been there and done it . I read everything he posts, as he is one of the best I think.
 
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