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Thursday, 26 August 2010


Having a picture framed is an expensive business - if the frame is going round a print it can cost three or four times as much as the print itself. And even if the frame is for an original painting it can cost a significant fraction of what the painting cost (unless you are the sort of person who needs to re-frame a Caravaggio).

It's also a difficult job to do yourself. Even the most careful amateur carpenter can have trouble mitering the corner of the moulding to get a perfect 45o cut.

My father was a painter, and he would frame his own pictures for sale. The machine on the right used to live in our kitchen when I was a child. It is a Morsø mitering machine, and it makes the cutting of a perfect 45o miter easy; anyone can get a good result with one of these. It guillotines the moulding to form two mitres simultaneously.

But it obviously makes no sense for everyone to have such a machine for themselves for use on the one occasion every two years when they want to frame a picture.

There are many products that are designed to break once cleanly. Think of the perforations around postage stamps, or of the ring pull on a Coke can. Why not make picture frame mouldings that have a series of 45o indentations along the back every few millimeters designed to snap cleanly? The indentations would have to be symmetrical about the middle of a length of moulding with -45o to the left and +45o to the right. You could then buy two lengths a little too long for the width of your picture, and another two a little too long for the height, and make your own frame of any size you liked.

It ought to be possible to do the design with added clips that would fit into the remaining indentations to hold the corners together, so you wouldn't even have to use a hammer and nails.

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