Building Wooden Frames – Joining and Sanding

Welcome to part 2 of A Street Frames‘ custom frame creation process. Last time we walked you through the milling stage, and now we’re on to joining and sanding. Hope you enjoy!


Choosing the Wood

After the milling is done the wood is wrapped up and placed in the proper bin for the cutter. His job is to cut the frame to the proper size specified by the frame designer. He needs to identify the profile, the species of wood and the finish to choose the perfect lengths to cut from.  He must be familiar with the properties of each type of  wood and the different finishes to guide his selection. Certain finishes are more forgiving, and a few random imperfections may be fine where natural finishes and light stains are not forgiving. He also needs to understand wood and the particular characteristics of the different species. For example, maple wood often has dark spots from growth in the tree. If this was used for a light finish such as our Amber, it would come through glaringly and would not pass our standards. However, if the finish were a solid lacquer color, that would completely cover the maple wood and that imperfection would be acceptable as it does not affect the integrity of the frame.

When choosing lengths for figured woods, such as tiger maple or bird’s eye maple, the cutter must be even more scrupulous. He needs to select stock which is consistent in color and figure while being mindful of how the individual legs of the frame match at the miters. We have to establish what is acceptable, when there are enough eyes in the bird’s eye and when there aren’t enough.

Wood for ChoppingWood stock milled and ready for chopping.

Every frame is one-of-a-kind and we have a very high standard, but sometimes people don’t understand the uniqueness of each length of wood. We often hear that they want their frame to match the sample they have exactly; when that customer is in California with a sample we made 3 years ago, it can be very tricky. When we make samples for our frame shop customers, I always stress not using stock with exceptionally high figure. Scott, who heads up our Empty Frame Division, gets to know our customers very well and usually knows when it may be best to send a call tag for their sample so we can match it as best as possible.