Something I want to learn to do – Matting and framing

MattingWe’re starting a new feature on MAKE called “Something I want to learn to do”… Sarah writes in “I have a ton of stuff that I’ve made or want to make that needs to be framed. I hate paying a zillion dollars to for professional matting and framing, plus I think it would be cool to do that stuff myself. And in some cases, the framing would be part of the project. Selfishly, I’d love to see a story on DIY matting and framing techniques.” Post suggestions and stories about matting and framing in the comments and also send us what you’d like to learn to do!

30 thoughts on “Something I want to learn to do – Matting and framing

  1. If anyone wants to know how to do any machining (mill, lathe, drill press, surface grinder) operations, let me know!

  2. As far as matting goes, do not be tempted by the little hand-held matte cutters. Spend the money, and get a real matte cutter, it will pay for itself quickly. I have the Logan Compact, and it works very nicely.

  3. Machining, definitely. Also, welding would be grand! One addition that’s essential to guides like these, though: good information on equipment for beginners. For example, RobCruickshank mentioned getting a good matte cutter. Assuming I can’t find a Logan Compact, what else should I look for in a cutter that’ll get me learned up on the subject, but carry me through years of use? Similarly for machining or welding, what kind of equipment is good to learn on, and WHY, but doesn’t require me to spend a fortune to get started? Too often howtos don’t cover this essential information and without it, any howto on a subject that requires “tools” is pretty much only slightly better than useless.

  4. Before I bought a mill I rented the first two episodes of the Mini Machines series produced by SwarfRat enterprises and rentable through SwarfRat or TechnicalVideoRental.com. From a total newbie’s perspective (read: my perspective) they’re packed with good information and enlightening demonstrations. After renting the first two I immediatly rented the next three.
    If nothing else, the DVDs opened my eyes to exactly how deep the subject of machining can go, and so any HOWTOs that anybody cares to write or point out would be appreciated.

  5. I, too, would “love to see a story on DIY matting and framing techniques.” I took one look at the price of even cheap pre-cut mats and bought a Logan Compact. I’d like some tips and tricks, together with comments on materials. Books are good for starting, but some expert comment would be nice.

  6. If anyone wants to know how to do any machining (mill, lathe, drill press, surface grinder) operations, let me know!

    I would!

  7. Here’s something to start with:

    Making a frame.

    It requires a router table, but I don’t know how you’d get around that requirement without a source of nicely profiled wood. I’ve been looking into stretching and framing an oil painting I found on e-bay and will try this technique myself. It’s hard to justify the $100+ dollars it costs for a 2’x3′ frame when I paid $30 for the painting.

    Here’s a bit on how to stretch a canvas if you’re interested.

  8. Actually, re: the handheld mat cutter, if you’re on a budget and aren’t looking to cut mats all day, the pull-style handheld mat cutter from Logan works quite well. (I have the Logan 3000, which goes for about $30. The Logan Compact is about $90.). You definitely need a heavy metal ruler (or better yet, t-square), so if you don’t have one of those, the framed mat cutters might be worth the money. I’ve cut a few mats now with my Logan 3000 and a metal t-square, and they turned out nice (and it was easy to do).

  9. Back in the day when I was prepping some drawing for a gallery show, the gallery allowed me to use their facilities to matte all of my pieces.

    I will have to say, the right equipment made a big difference. It was just about patience and a whole lot of math (which us creative are always the best at).

    In regards to Framing. It is really the same kinda thing. You really need to have the right equipment. The perfect mitered corner is what makes the frame. I had a craftsman hand saw with a finishing blade on it, but that still left room for error. Again patients and math. I really only can say I have the first of the two down pat.

    Bit of a digression from matting and framing.
    If you are making the frames to stretch canvas over to paint on, it isn’t as much of a big deal if your corners aren’t prefect. As long as your frame lays flat you are set. I would put steel cables and turnbuckles on the back to keep it true after I stretched the canvas and gessoed it.

  10. Re: Machining, there are so many resources on the web right now, and in print, almost too many to recommend, here are a few good ones:
    Fox Valley Tech
    virtual machine shop
    I have two how to articles up on my site that might be of interest:
    Truing work in a 4 jaw chuck
    Making an expanding arbor, which shows a bunch of lathe processes.
    I really recommend people get copies (or book collections of articles) of
    Home Shop Machinist magazine.

    If anyone wants me to do particular operations and take pics for a little web article, give me some topics, like “finding an edge in a milling machine”, “drilling and boring a hole in the lathe”, “accurately drilling a hole in a piece of stock on the drill press”, etc and I’ll get it written up.

  11. For anyone in the Boston area, check out the Framer’s Workshop in Brookline. You can go and do the framing yourself and they have big selection of mats and frame options with a DIY workshop in the back. You can go, pick out your mat, frame, glass and other options; they do the cutting and then you do the assembly. It cuts down quite a bit on the cost, and it gives a chance to get your feet wet without the overhead of tools and raw materials, plus the staff will help with the assembly and little tricks to help the project. Not a total DIY solution, but definatly a good intro if you are in the area.

  12. If you’re interested in machining or welding, check your local community college or adult education system. Our county offers an 8 week course for beginners on arc and mig welding for $100. It includes a textbook, 16 hours of instruction, and 16 hours of access to the equipment. Another local vo-tech has an evening course designed to take beginners to the apprentice machinist stage for $592. It includes micrometers, scribes, toolbox, reference manual, toolbox, etc. It’s subsidized by local companies that are looking to entice high school grads into the trade.

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