How to organise a home workshop for picture frame fitting

Written by chris pink on April 11, 2014 in Picture Framing

Setting up a home studio for putting your picture frames together – and storing them while you decide what to do with them, which is often overlooked – sounds easy at first. Just take all the stuff out of the spare room, put a sign on the door saying NOBODY COMES IN UNLESS THEY’RE FRAMING! and you’re away.

But, take it from us – and we’ve been dealing with frames long enough that we’re confident you can! – if you do a few simple things first, it’ll be far easier in the long run.

Note: the following guide does not include instructions for setting up frame-cutting equipment and frame-joining gear. Instead, it’s intended to be helpful to people who buy their picture frames and then want to put them together and keep them at home.

Step 1: have you got the space you need?

You may only be intending to fit a few picture frames and mounts together here and there, but before you start invading the spare room and getting the wife’s – or husband’s! – back up, it might be wise to consider the issue of space. There is no set amount of room you need to put frames together at home. Instead, you can find that out by asking the following questions…

Step 2: your picture framing requirements

Will you be putting frames together with ready-cut mounts, or will you be cutting your own mounts? If you’re using ready-made mounts then you won’t need additional space for mount-cutting paraphernalia, so you can probably make do with a single desk. If you’re cutting your own mounts, however, you may wish to have separate table to do so on. You could do everything on the same table, but if you’re fitting any more than a couple in succession, it’s going to become a hassle.

Next, you’ll need to think about taping-up at the back of the frames. Is this something you’re concerned with? If so, you’ll likely be using tape which you first apply water to, before then adhering it to the frame when it becomes gummy. This is something to think about. Why? Well, because the gummy glue of the tape has a habit of finding its way onto the table…not ideal if you’re cutting mounts in the same place. Without a doubt, they will get marked.

If you’re cutting glass in the room, also be careful. Glass shards nearly always find a way of getting into carpet, so you may want to put a lock on the door (especially if you have a curious toddler wandering about!).

How to organise your room for picture frame fitting

Get the space right and the rest will follow

 Step 3: organising your space and equipment

Aside from ensuring that you actually have the space to start – due to its need for space and equipment, picture framing isn’t an activity that lends itself well to sharing – organising your space is the next crucial factor. So, consider these things:

1: Where will the frames go once you have fitted them with mounts and art-work? If you’re using big frames, you don’t want to be carrying them too far from the door. Equally, you don’t want to be bending down too much to pick them up when you take them out of the room, so it may be wise to make a strong shelf on which to stack them.

2: Is the place where you’re putting the table conducive to framing? What we mean by that is this: is there a power supply in the room? (Aside from plugging-in power tools or anything else, you may want to have a radio on.) Is the quality of light good? Are there any cupboards which you might frequently bang your head on? All worth a second-thought.

Once you’ve worked out where your table(s) are going, and decided upon how/where you’ll stack your finished picture frames, you’ll need to take one last look at the space you have left. In this space you will need to stock the following items and equipment (another good reason to put some shelves up!).

1: A hoover. Preferably hand-held to minimise space and make cleaning the desk space quicker and easier.

2: Glass-cleaning equipment (and glass-cutting equipment, if need be), as well as your mount-cutting stuff.

3: A good-sized bin for card. Don’t go for a small one and always opt for an open bin, rather than a pedal bin. You’ll be using it enough that the pedal won’t be necessary, and, anyway, pedals have a bad habit of breaking.

4: A strong bin for glass, if need be. This should be made out of a sturdy material which will not easily split from the weight of its contents.

5: A dust-pan and brush.

6: A feather duster (ideal for removing dust from acrylic).

7: A box to put unused, quality pieces of mount (matting) in. Mount/matting board soon accumulates and easily gets marked and scuffed, so it’d be a good idea to have a safe place to store it.

Step 4: keeping things clean and tidy!

Keeping the studio clean is probably the most hated job of every picture framer who has ever lived. Work-spaces – even large ones – quickly get filthy, and the shards of glass and card from mount-board gets just about everywhere. So the one thing you have to be is clean and tidy. And it’s not only about aesthetics, either. Grit, glass and dust can do irreversible damage to frames, card and art-work – photography in particular – so it makes sense to keep the place looking good.

Our advice would be to do a decent tidy-up after each session, and then have a more substantial go every so often.

That concludes this week’s blog post. Look out for more from us next week.


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