Traditional framing in Uganda

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Traditional framing in Uganda

Postby pramsay13 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 5:05 pm

I'm taking a year out with the family and we're staying in Uganda volunteering in a local community centre.

There is a carpentry workshop and they are keen to learn picture framing but they only have very traditional hand tools so I'm looking for tips.

They have to plane the wood by hand, carve the rebate, measure with a tape measure, mark mitres with a square tool, cut with a cross cut saw or hack saw, and use nails in the corners.

The problems I've found so far are:
wood varies in thickness so I have to cut a v and make sure I am joining those corners together
it is hard to cut accurate 45 degree angles on top and completely vertical down the moulding
it is hard to join mitres using nails

Any advice or tips welcome.
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Re: Traditional framing in Uganda

Postby Not your average framer » Thu Sep 06, 2018 6:03 pm

Before the Morso came along a shooting board and a wood plane was a common way of cleaning up a mitre to a correct angle and a good finish. Maybe this is also a good way of accomplishing mitres for picture framing within your current setting in Uganda.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ypbvcxb-8M

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUrfzc4hai0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2yZuylIB1o
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Re: Traditional framing in Uganda

Postby Not your average framer » Thu Sep 06, 2018 7:07 pm

Are you planning to make some of the tools that you require by hand, while you are out there? Be careful about buying tools in local stores as much of what is likely to be available could well be poor quality far eastern imports and cutting irons, chisels and the like may not be using adequate quality tool steel.

Are you already out in Uganda, or still in the UK? Alternatively do you have anyone in the UK, who can look for suitable older secondhand tools and arrange to get them out to you?

Cutting the rebate will be much easier with a rebate plane and you can make one of those yourself using an older chisel, probably the older the better, so it will have been produced using really good quality tool steel. Here's a video of how to make a chisel plane for cutting rebates:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTuOtmlRhAI

BTW, May I recommend that you have a look through some of the other Youtube videos by Paul Sellers, you may find a few more of these worth checking out.
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Re: Traditional framing in Uganda

Postby David McCormack » Thu Sep 06, 2018 7:52 pm

This is a really smart way of joining a mitre with splines and glue. The spline are just the thickness of a saw kerf, all done by hand.

What an adventure pramsay13 :D I hope you can get a good internet connection and keep us up to date with your progress :D

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Re: Traditional framing in Uganda

Postby vintage frames » Thu Sep 06, 2018 7:53 pm

Sounds like some of the stuff that comes out of my work-shop. Now if I had a big industrial moulding mill then all my mouldings would be straight, accurate and faultless. But I don't. So out goes the underpinner. I did once have a small planer/thicknesser but it made such a racket that I was no longer allowed to use it in a domestic setting, and that's in the middle of the countryside here.
I think you need to go back to basics now and to the days when picture-framers were true craftsmen who had never heard of a Morso or an underpinner. Why don't you make a simple mitre-box, such as the type you can buy in any DIY store. Then make a simple shooting board jig as has been suggested by NYAF. At good bottle of Titebond 3 is your friend; use it and a simple band clamp to join up the frame, then nail it secure the next day.
It's how they used to make frames not so long ago, and I wouldn't say they were too bad at it either.
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Re: Traditional framing in Uganda

Postby David McCormack » Thu Sep 06, 2018 7:58 pm

Here's how he made that corner sample in the above video.

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Re: Traditional framing in Uganda

Postby pramsay13 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 9:13 pm

Thanks for the posts everyone.
Unfortunately the internet isn't great so it will take me a few days to get through the YouTube videos so I won't be able to feed back immediately.
If you are on social media I am posting occasional updates.
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Re: Traditional framing in Uganda

Postby Not your average framer » Thu Sep 06, 2018 9:29 pm

I have quite a reasonable collection of old wooden bodied planes some fully restored, some waiting for restoration and some which are not complete, but are still useful as a source of materials, or spare part for my other planes. I don't know how many of you have ever used a wooden bodied plane, but my first experience of them was a schoolboy in the 1960's during woodwork classes.

I did not learn very much about them at that time, but I learnt to use a wood plane, before I ever handled a metal bodied plane and never felt any reservations about using wooden bodied planes. It was in fact many years later that I learnt that schools used wooden bodied plane, because unlike metal bodied planes, they tend to survive better when schoolboys knock them off the bench onto a hard floor.

All that aside, they are a pleasure to work with, especially when they are planes that you have bought and restored them yourself. I biased anyway, but maybe wooden bodied planes would make good sense in Uganda and perhaps the Ugandans would enjoy making their own personal planes as well.

As you may have already guessed, I've learnt quite a lot from craftsmen like Paul Sellers via Youtube and can thoughly recommend traling through Youtube looking for old school craftsmen, who are willing to teach us things that are hard to learn by any other means. I think that this thread is a great one and I'm looking forward to learning a few things from this thread myself.
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Re: Traditional framing in Uganda

Postby pramsay13 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 9:47 pm

Here's my first effort.

This was the best corner :D
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Re: Traditional framing in Uganda

Postby kartoffelngeist » Fri Sep 07, 2018 10:22 am

Looking good! It'll be quite the adventure. Prepare to be impressed by the resourcefulness when people don't have access to the tools they need!

Hope you enjoy your time in Uganda. I spent a while in Malawi and absolutely loved the place.

Just started following you on twitter, so looking forward to the updates!
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Re: Traditional framing in Uganda

Postby vintage frames » Fri Sep 07, 2018 1:18 pm

I don't see what's really wrong with the mitres. If the moulding was hand produced, then there is always a higher level of tolerance to the finished appearance of the frame. We can all get a little hung-up on the closed mitre syndrome. Yes, if you're into factory stock moulding, then a good closed mitre helps mitigate the "look" but with hand produced mouldings, it's all about the softer, craft produced appearance of the frame.
And to put mitres into some perspective - I take 2 to 3 weeks to produce a finished picture frame. Within that time I spend just 1/2 hour cutting and assembling the frame.
I bet the guys in Uganda are a really good craftsmen and given the tools available, they'll produce excellent work in the end.
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Re: Traditional framing in Uganda

Postby JFeig » Fri Sep 07, 2018 2:19 pm

This is a rabbit plane video regarding picture framing.

[youtube] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJvDH0hpxNk [/youtube]
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Re: Traditional framing in Uganda

Postby Steve N » Fri Sep 07, 2018 4:22 pm

Slap a bit of filler in the corners and paint over them, as an ex member of this forum was known to say, "that you can't beat hand finishing," (more like bodging in the way he did it) :giggle:
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