Reaching Out

Picture Framing related issues. Everybody welcome.

Reaching Out

Postby Just Rob » Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:47 pm

Hello All,

Fairly new to the forum but I have been a hobby wood worker for some time and made some nice frames out of hardwoods and because i mill all my own timber every frame is unique as they all look different.

My question is about the age old story of setting up a business, yes I would like to be a framer of sorts but i refuse to use mouldings as I really enjoy using and preparing timber like Oak, Walnut, Yew, Ash etc etc

Because each frame is made from scratch i feel this is also more personal but along with that personal touch comes a price as i am sure you can appreciate they take me a lot longer to make than just usung traditional mouldings of the shelf.

Is there a large market for hardwood frames?

Would any of the people who have businesses on here be interested in offering hardwood frames to there customers?

Or am i best just sticking to my day job and keep the framing as a weekend hobby?

I am struggling to upload photos of my work otherwise i would attach them to this thread :/

Thanks for any comments or help as it really is appreciated
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Re: Reaching Out

Postby Framie » Sat Nov 11, 2017 6:10 pm

It's how I first started framing, mill everything from scratch. Quickly worked out I couldn't charge what I needed to and I couldn't get away with hobby machines working them hard all day, every day.

I moved on to bare wood moulding and hand finished but still needed to move on to FF mouldings.

Takes so long making from scratch.

There is a market, it's not large but is mostly covered from what I can see.

It's want I really want to be doing but it's not what my customer want.
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Re: Reaching Out

Postby Just Rob » Sat Nov 11, 2017 6:26 pm

Framie wrote:It's how I first started framing, mill everything from scratch. Quickly worked out I couldn't charge what I needed to and I couldn't get away with hobby machines working them hard all day, every day.

I moved on to bare wood moulding and hand finished but still needed to move on to FF mouldings.

Takes so long making from scratch.

There is a market, it's not large but is mostly covered from what I can see.

It's want I really want to be doing but it's not what my customer want.
Yeah it does take a lot longer on average it's 24 hours with about 21 hours of that being drying time for glue and finishes. I find it's just as quick though to make 2 or 3 frames as it is to do just 1?

I really don't want to go down the moulding route! I had a morso F with the idea of trimming my hard wood frames but that lasted about 10 minutes before I lost my patience and put the machine back on eBay. Even with sharp blades it was just a nightmare and I found i got a much cleaner cut with an 80 tooth blade.

I guess the typical rules of cutting mitres go out the window when it comes to hardwoods? I did invest in a cassese underpinner which is worth it's weight in gold i just struggle with larger frames due to the weight and trying to balance it for pinning.

I have found a local photographer who has several of my frames on display in his studio and Walnut seems to a big hit with wedding photos.

But even with those sales it's not a constant request and can be weeks before I get another order.

I do make mirrors too and I get plenty of requests for those and I find Oak with a walnut inlay sell really well but I could do with partnering up with a furniture company to get a steady flow of orders as I don't have a premises and not in a position to take on those kind of overheads.

Anyway thank you for your response it was what I guessed and I am well aware that people want the moulding but they really are missing out when it comes to hardwood frames I really don't think they can be compared :/
[img]https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20171111/7d9c0b950f6dff3239e31a5bfa49792a.jpg[/img][img]https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20171111/0509452036bd1ac1b621b822cf94e631.jpg[/img][img]https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20171111/69b231112022924fdd2b00c1904a5a0f.jpg[/img][img]https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20171111/a857ff0ec1f92a7d45046ee8d7abd13d.jpg[/img]

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Re: Reaching Out

Postby prospero » Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:23 pm

Hi Rob. :D

That all sounds very interesting. There is always a market for something unique and 'craftsman made'. And people will pay
the price. When it comes to business it's a matter of marketing your skills and let people know that your stuff is special.

As you point out, you can't knock this sort of thing up in ten minutes. Certain processes need time to dry etc. I do regular
HF frames that need about four days to do. No way to speed things up. One day - build the frame and leave for the glue
to set up. Second day - fill the grain and apply primer coats. Third day apply top coats. Fourth day - mask sections and apply
gilding - assemble fame.
But as I generally work on a few at a time I use the 'dead' time to work on others. It's all a matter of timing and logistics.

I've got about 30 on the go at the moment. :roll:
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Re: Reaching Out

Postby prospero » Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:39 pm

justrob002.jpg
justrob002.jpg (122.18 KiB) Viewed 459 times


justrob001.jpg
justrob001.jpg (41.17 KiB) Viewed 459 times
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Re: Reaching Out

Postby prospero » Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:41 pm

justrob004.jpg
justrob004.jpg (166.83 KiB) Viewed 459 times


justrob003.jpg
justrob003.jpg (65.38 KiB) Viewed 459 times
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Re: Reaching Out

Postby Not your average framer » Sun Nov 12, 2017 12:55 am

Just Rob wrote:Is there a large market for hardwood frames?


I would say not particularly, but it does not mean that you won't manage to sell a few. Most of us need to have a few strings to our bow, but at this stage you've made a start and we've all got to start somewhere. Don't be too easily put off, you already know what you want to be doing and that's a good place to be. Without departing too much from what you already do, what else can you add to the mix. Beautiful hand made hardwood work can be very interesting to potential customers. Give it some thought and see where this could be going.

If you take the time to look through some of my hand finishing posts on this forum, you will discover that I have said that being different in interesting ways is very good for a small business. I not only think that this could apply to you, but the fact that you already have got something different, without looking particularly for something different and you're already doing it because it's something that you are into. This is how I got started and I think it could so easily work for you too!
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Re: Reaching Out

Postby Keith Hewitt » Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:48 am

Peter ( aka Prospero) love the frame on the easel. :clap: :o

I have a frame with a great big knot in it, which I don't find at all unattractive.
But from reading posts here I get the impression that the framer should have avoided the knot
I don't want to hijack this thread but just wondering what are others opinions on knots
I have visited framers in 83 countries - no two are the same.

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Re: Reaching Out

Postby prospero » Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:55 am

btw Keef. Thise weren't my frames they are rob's that I got to display. :wink:
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Re: Reaching Out

Postby vintage frames » Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:49 am

And there was me going to say wonderful frames, Prospero (but stop showing off!).
You make really good hardwood frames and I agree that they are much superior to the usual run of the mill mouldings. The trouble is public taste often doesn't recognise the difference. You would need to appeal to a more sophisticated client base.
I would suggest showing your frames to some good art galleries. The antique trade abhors factory mouldings and would welcome your efforts if you give your frames a further antique finish.
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Re: Reaching Out

Postby Not your average framer » Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:34 pm

I did notice that Rob is located in Lancashire and quite a bit of Lancashire is rural with nice character properties. People living in some of these desirable character properties could well be natural customers for Rob's workmanship and some of these people will have the necessary finances to pay what it costs for something a bit special.

I get orders every now and then for something to fit into quirky spaces in old buildings, or to look in keeping which the shape around where something will be positioned. The proportions in many of these character buildings don't always work with the usual proportions of most off the shelf stuff. These sort of sales get you noticed by friends and social contacts of the original customers.

It's an almost tribal thing. People tend to get to know others within a certain circle of friends and there's always those in the group who's taste in nice things are admired by others. People who admire these people like to be seen as also having good taste and often like to copy the same good taste. It's almost like showing that you belong to the same social group and a statement that you have taste to be amired.

There's a bit of this around my area and it can be very helpful to those who can supply quality hand made items. I'm not all that great when it comes to knowing whats in fashion and when the fashion for a particular thing has gone. Fortunately for me, a lot of these customers are looking for items that have a classic look about them and this is something which suits me much better.

There used to be an auction sale room at the bottom of my town and I used to regularly check out some of the nicer items for sale, partly because I liked that sort of thing, but sometimes as a source of inspiration. I reckon if you are looking to copy, or imitate something, pick something that is a beautiful example of something that is in every way a classic in it's own right.

Classic older items have much more generous proportions than today's items which are in and out of fashion so quickly. I copy a lot of this sort of thing with stacked mouldings, classic looking finishes and shapes that you don't see anymore. I would not say that I'm an expert at this and I certainly don't know what style to call some of these things.

Proper antique dealers and similar people know all the right names and descriptions, but I like to think that I know what looks right when I see it. There's still plenty of life left in the market for nice workmanship, classic looking items and nice things. My business is to some degree built on this sort of stuff and anyone looking for some ways of making their business one that stands out in a way might do well to do something similar.
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Re: Reaching Out

Postby Glimpse » Mon Nov 13, 2017 2:21 pm

Is there a large market for hardwood frames?

Would any of the people who have businesses on here be interested in offering hardwood frames to there customers?


Hi Rob, a fellow Lancastrian here, where abouts are you?

The simple answer to your first question is no. If you look at the total market for all frames, the proportion of those where "hardwood" is an important factor is virtually nil.

The same can be said for handmade or hand finished - it's just not a prerequisite or significant factor in people's buying process, no matter how many people on here tell you it is!

The 2 biggest influencing factors are choice and cost. Unfortunately, neither of those go hand-in-hand with handmade hardwood frames.

In answer to your second question, unless I could double the price and still get sales, I wouldn't be interested in offering anything other than my own bespoke offerings where I get a material markup and get paid for my time. If I offered someone elses products or services, I'd effectivly be doing myself out of a job, so unless it was very much worth my while, I wouldn't be interested. And the very nature of specialised work is that it's high risk - it can take a large investment in time spent with the customer, and there's a potential for them to walk away if they don't like the finished product.

The problem you've got is that no matter how nice a hardwood frame is, it's very rare that it's so much nicer than a factory moulding that it justifies the cost. And despite what other posters might like to assume about Lancashire, having lived and worked here all my life, I can honestly say there isn't a feasable market for it.

I think your suggestion to find interior furnishing shops is a stronger prospect, but beware - they'll nail you to the floor pricewise! It's the sort of thing that might sell if they had a handful of examples on display, but in terms of finding framing customers that specifically want hardwood, I don't think they're out there. I can see people buying a ready framed print in a unique frame, but very few people who need something framing are going to hunt out something so niche. And whilst they look lovely, some of your examples don't look any more unique than factory finished mouldings.

If you're close to Longridge, pop in for a brew, there are a few places in the Ribble Valley that might be worth approaching - I'd be happy to point you in the right direction...
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Re: Reaching Out

Postby Not your average framer » Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:37 pm

It's very hard getting a much of a name for a business providing a much too limited range of work. I make a point of having quite a lot of different strings to my bow and even then, you still get times of the year when you could do with being busier. I think that is adding the right extra strings to your bow that will help you. Figuring out what these extra strings to you bow will be is not always easy, but being able to ask yourself the right questions may be another step in the right direction.

When I got started, I had been made redundant and could not find another job. I had no easy options and did my best to scrape by for ages. It was a very difficult time for both me and my wife. We were desperate and were willing to try just about anything. Realistically, we were looking defeat in the face and were struggling for nearly three and a half years. I don't know how we kept going, but eventually the business did get off the ground. If you believe enough in what you can and want to do, you can still try and see what you can make of it.

I will certainly never make my fortune doing this, but I'm still doing something that I love doing and getting by financially as best as I can. The question is how much do you want to do this? I think you already know that it won't be easy!
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Re: Reaching Out

Postby Jamesnkr » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:31 pm

Glimpse wrote:The simple answer to your first question [Is there a large market for hardwood frames?] is no. If you look at the total market for all frames, the proportion of those where "hardwood" is an important factor is virtually nil.


The simple answer to the first question is "yes". Whilst as a proportion of the total market for all frames it is probably low, as a total number of frames it is high. There are framers on here who produce nothing but hardwood frames.

It's just the same as the question "Is there a large market for grass-fed organic beefburgers?" If you look at the total market for all burgers, the proportion where being grass fed or organic is an important factor is virtually nil, as most burgers are sold by McDonalds. However the total number of grass-fed organic burgers sold remains a large number.

Glimpse, don't imagine everybody wants to follow your business model. It works for you but OP doesn't want to use factory-finished mouldings. He doesn't even want to use factory-produced bare mouldings.

OP If I were you though I'd look to outsource the moulding making as it might make it a bit easier to make a sensible profit on your hours invested. I suggest getting hold of a copy of Piaf 2's catalogue - call Mark 01394 450022 but minimum would be 50ft. He has a moulding catalogue that runs to dozens of pages, and a good choice of hardwoods. Otherwise Tim at Kingswood Mouldings http://www.kingswoodframes.co.uk/ who posts here will make you anything you like in whatever quantity you like, but I don't think he has a catalogue.
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Re: Reaching Out

Postby Glimpse » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:53 pm

OP If I were you though I'd look to outsource the moulding making as it might make it a bit easier to make a sensible profit on your hours invested. I suggest getting hold of a copy of Piaf 2's catalogue - call Mark 01394 450022 but minimum would be 50ft. He has a moulding catalogue that runs to dozens of pages, and a good choice of hardwoods. Otherwise Tim at Kingswood Mouldings http://www.kingswoodframes.co.uk/ who posts here will make you anything you like in whatever quantity you like, but I don't think he has a catalogue.


Have you been sniffing the glass cleaner again James? He refuses to buy mouldings! His foray into framing stems from his ability to machine his own frame stock!

And in your desperate bid to brand anyone using factory mouldings as akin to McDonalds, you're actually giving really bad advice. Again.

The market is virtualy nil. The market for any picture framing is relatively small, and the number of those customers who specifically demand hardwood or hand finished is, as I said, virtually nil.

I have a busy framing shop and I have NEVER had someone specifically asking for hardwood. I have NEVER had anyone leave the shop because I don't offer hardwood or hand finished. I deal with artists, collectors, little-old-ladies with embroidery fetishes, the whole gamut of picture framing customers. And, as I said, the market for anything other than factory and veneers is virtually nil. That's not just idle speculation, it's based on experience.

If the OP had customers coming out of his ears, I'd think differently. But he's come her asking if there's much market for what he's doing. And based on my experience of living and working in the same area, I speak with some autority.

He certainly has a few options, but trying to build a business from scratch based on what he's producing - in this area - is not viable. So why try and encourage him to risk everything?
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Re: Reaching Out

Postby prospero » Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:48 pm

Play nicely children. :)
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Re: Reaching Out

Postby vintage frames » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:20 pm

Just Rob asked if there was a market for his hardwood frames. He just has to go and make his own market. If he doesn't have a retail premises then he has to go out and approach galleries, shops and dealers. Coming in saying you "do pictureframing" isn't going to cut it. Neither is saying you make your frames from hardwood. What he has to do is offer something that will "wow" the customer and have them wanting his frames because they can't find anything better anywhere else. And that's the big challenge.
He's obviously very skilled with wood and has an ambition to do something different. So go for it, If you get very good at it you'll make a lot of money and you'll be doing something that is your own and really enjoyable.
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Re: Reaching Out

Postby Jamesnkr » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:44 pm

Glimpse wrote:He certainly has a few options, but trying to build a business from scratch based on what he's producing - in this area - is not viable. So why try and encourage him to risk everything?


Calm! He's not risking anything. Go and re-read his OP. He doesn't want to use FF moulding under any circumstances (no, I'm not comparing FF moulding to McDonalds, re-read my post, it's an analogy).

And I'm certainly not encouraging him to risk anything, let alone the "everything" you suggest; this is his hobby and he asks whether he has any hope of selling the frames he enjoys making as his hobby. He isn't trying to set up a mass-market framing shop in Lancashire - where doubtless your information would be very helpful - he is trying to use his self-evident skill to make beautiful things and perchance some money as well. He has already proved that the market exists as he has sold some frames; his significant challenge is to find out how to expand his sales. There are plenty of people in Lancashire with cash, and they're not quite as stingy as the ones on the other side of the Pennines. Vintage Frames is based in a place that makes rural Lancashire look like central London and he produces plenty of beautiful hardwood frames.

And if you would be so kind please as to avoid making references to my backside and sniffing glass cleaner then this forum will be a nicer place. It is possible to disagree with somebody without swearing.
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Re: Reaching Out

Postby Glimpse » Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:03 pm

My question is about the age old story of setting up a business...

Or am i best just sticking to my day job and keep the framing as a weekend hobby?


I clearly completely misread the above, how remiss of me... :roll:

And why are you accusing me of swearing???
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Re: Reaching Out

Postby caro » Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:16 pm

I am a bespoke, or custom framer. small turnover of jobs but they are nearly all hand finished, because I don't like wasting finished mouldings and I can fix/disguise/incorporate damage to wood mouldings.
First I ask the customer if they want something specific, if not we usually start by choosing a mount style, eg single, double, float, close framed, this will then have an impact on aspects of the frame. Framing works best when it suits the artwork. With unfinished mouldings I can offer the option of a wide choice of frame sizes and shapes with unlimited finishes. Sometimes a beautiful grained wood will work. one customer has nothing but oak frames.
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