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February and March 2013 Archives

March 28, 2013

Last week I posted a link to an article about the high cost of custom framing.

There are some great points about what goes into custom framing, things the average person would never think about, and how those things drive up the cost. 

It also points out some thoughts to ponder about what you are framing and the reality of the type of picture frame and mat you need.

You don't necessarily need a $250 frame with conservation matting for a Pink Floyd poster.

There are many high quality picture framers out there that have a wealth of experience and knowledge.  Their craftsmanship is remarkable and they ensure that each client benefits from their care and attention to detail.

They also command top dollar.

There is no reason, however, that you can't produce picture frames that are every bit as remarkable in your own shop. In fact, you can actually offer something most custom framers can't - moldings you make yourself out of any wood you want.

If you want to make a frame out of solid cherry or mahogany - go for it. Maybe walnut or curly maple is more your taste - well, go make yourself some frames out of either one.

Picture frame moldings made of these types of solid woods are not found easily and when they are they are not exactly cheap.

Advantage: wood worker

Knowing how detail oriented most wood workers are and the perfectionist traits that most of us have, I dare say, we can create frames that are of the same high quality and beauty as any custom framer who uses pre-cut mass produced moldings.

Spend some time learning how easy it actually is to cut your own mats (like, right here on this site for example - hint hint) and how to protect art work and documents and who knows, before long people may be coming to you first instead of a frame shop.

Just remember, while we may not charge the kind of prices custom framers do, don't give your work away. We may not have some of the overhead and middle men to deal with that drive their prices up, but we do have specialized skills and talents that the average person doesn't.

That makes our work just as valuable. Some would argue even more so.

take care


March 21, 2013

Some times you never learn. Sometimes you can fool yourself into believing it will be different this time, it will work out - even though it never does. Picture framing is no different.

For some reason, I tried again this past weekend to skimp on the sanding process to save some time. I had several frames made, routed and well on their way to being ready for the finishing room. It was late Saturday afternoon, I was getting tired and thought I could get the sanding out of the way quickly and call it a day.

I should have just called it a day

Of course, the poor effort I made sanding on Saturday showed up on Sunday after the 1st coat of stain hit the wood. Wasted time and money....

The point of this has nothing to do with sanding though.

It's really about decision making.

More specifically, decision making when we are tired.

Working away in the shop, for most of us, is a pleasure, something we look forward to every time we get a chance, it's almost a therapy. When we get tired though, we rush things, take chances and are less focused. We actually can do more harm than good when we hit that stage.

It's much better to stop when you feel the fatigue coming on than to push forward to do that one last thing or finish cutting those last few pieces of wood. 

Too often, projects are ruined or worse than that - people get hurt. 

Our hobby is rooted in precision and safety - neither of which can be achieved when we're tired.

So, the next time you try to convince yourself that you're not that tired, remember this article, shut the lights off and go relax; satisfied knowing you finally learned your lesson.

take care


February 28, 2013

Last weekend I came across a binder that my loving aunt put together for me some 10 or so years ago. It was in one of the drawers of my workbench. The binder had a number of plans for different woodworking projects all in neat plastic sleeves - perfectly preserved. 

It had been some time since I went through the binder, so while I was waiting for some glue to dry I pulled it out and flipped through it. I was surprised how much info was in there and how much I had learned early on from some of the stuff in this binder. The very first set of plans I ever bought - a book case - were there! So was an autographed picture of Norm Abram!!!

I also came across issue number 60 of Woodsmith, published in 1988. This particular issue was dedicated to picture framing and specifically; making picture frame moldings.

It was filled with great new ideas - all  in black and white pictures! I was surprised at how much more sense it made to me now, certainly more than when I was first learning how to make my own frames.

I must have come across this issue in a store on the reduced table sometime in early 2000s, bought it  and quickly forgot about it. I know I never actually used any of the ideas they offered in this issue. Looking at it now -  I don't know why.

The issue is loaded with simple techniques, using simple router bits that produce amazing moldings. I've recently been commissioned to make a large mirror frame to go above someone's fireplace and plan to use one of the moldings taught in this issue; published 25 years ago. 

It's not so much a case of what is old is new again - it's more accurate to say some things never grow old.... solid woodworking techniques, binders full of knowledge, and the love of a special aunt.

take care


February 21, 2013

Wood working is a game of inches - or to be more exact 1/32 of an inch.

When I first started working with wood, nothing caused me more frustration than measuring things wrong. Some times I was not paying attention and thought I remembered the measurement - only to find out later I was wrong.

Other times, I  thought I was good enough to simply eyeball an 1/8 of an inch - only to realize, after the fact, I was about an 1/8 of an inch off!

More aggravating than those examples -  I remember one project when I measured everything in advance, checked it twice and confidently made my cuts. Feeling good and ready to lay everything out I realized that I made some of the cuts on the wrong side of the cut line, leaving several pieces too short and some too long!!!  

What prevented me from giving up the hobby entirely is still a mystery to me.

As I gained experience though and learned to slow down and think things through before rushing into the fun part - cutting the wood - I started to magically become more accurate. I wasted less wood, I had to cover up fewer mistakes and I actually became a better wood worker. 

While today's world is all about speed, instant results, and a never ending pursuit to cut corners - sometimes it still pays to take your time.

What are some of the things that caused (or currently cause) you frustration as you work in your shop? How did you over come them?  Your thoughts can help all of us get better at doing what we love - wood working!

Leave your thought below in the comment box.

take care


February 1, 2012

As I sat down to write this week’s blog it occurred to me how different life is today. Here I am “publishing” my thoughts, which can be seen by people I don’t even know, from anywhere in the world at any time.

The more I think about it the harder it is to believe.

We are living in an incredible time and anyone who has access to a computer can improve their life and the lives of others in ways that were never possible before.

Today, we can shop for literally anything we need, or want, on-line (and have it all delivered right to our door), we can instantly lend support, encouragement or simply say hello to family members and friends who live anywhere in the world.

We can solve crimes, save the planet and self- diagnose. We can send pictures and videos of things, while they are occurring; to anyone we want, where ever they are at any moment, without thinking twice about it.

More incredible still is how many people have found a way to work for themselves and take care of their families, while earning a living or supplementing their income using the internet and all of the opportunities it offers.

So many people who were once out of work, or unfulfilled at the job they held, have become their own boss.

Stay at home moms and dads have established thriving businesses while they are home raising their families. 

Teenagers have become millionaires and billionaires – yes billionaires - by simply trying out their ideas and not falling into the trap that most adults do – not believing it’s possible.

Anyone with some drive, creativity and a little elbow grease can cut out their own niche in this unlimited and still virtually untapped arena.

If there was ever a time when people could turn their lives around, find ways to live out their dreams, or become more fulfilled, this is it.

I’m not talking about get rich quick schemes either. There are plenty of those out there and just as many angry, embarrassed and broken people who thought the easy way out could actually work.

If you are willing to work hard and have some faith you CAN do it.

Do some research to find something that's comfortable for you, but just get started.

I spent a little over 2 months researching before I found something I was comfortable with and I couldn't be happier.

This is where I started:

We have the opportunity of a life time right in front of us. Maybe we won’t all become rich or work for ourselves, but we certainly could.

One thing is for sure though, if we’re not at least trying, we’re letting a golden opportunity slip away…

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