Custom picture framers make frames to fit all sizes of pictures but what can you do when you have a frame that doesn’t fit your picture?
People often end up with a frame that doesn’t quite fit the picture they have. This can be because they have bought a cheap frame that is just a little bit bigger or smaller than the picture they have. Sometimes it can be when you are recycling or reusing a frame that was made to fit a different sized picture. Whatever the reason there are a few solutions to fix the problem.
The two easiest solutions, if the frame is larger than the picture being framed, is to either break and cut down the frame to fit or insert a mat border to bridge the difference between the picture and the frame.
If the picture being framed requires glass and when the wrong size frame already had glass that fits the frame, the best solution is often to cut a mat border to make the picture fit the frame rather than to cut both the frame down as well as the glass. When the picture doesn’t require glass because it is an oil or acrylic or some other item to be exposed then it may be best to cut down the frame to fit the picture.
Breaking and cutting down the frame is fraught with risks.
If the frame is timber it is a safer option to break the frame and rejoin it than if it is a synthetic molding. Synthetic frames tend to come apart poorly and will often fracture and chip away at the miter joint.
When breaking a timber frame that has been glued and V nailed or V pinned you should first break the glue join by either forcing the joint apart by twisting or on occasion it may require a sudden forceful pop by tapping the corner on a firm surface perpendicular to the joint. If you are cutting the frame down by more than a few inches or any amount greater than the width of the V nails you can just roughly cut through the frame with a hand saw to get it into separate pieces and then re-cut the frame with a new miter making it the correct length. It is then a simple procedure to join the frame again and re-assemble the picture.
The other option of cutting a mat board to bridge the gap between the picture and the frame is a simpler process. Just calculate the difference between the frame and the picture and work out the widths of matting required to make the picture fit the frame. After you cut the matting, the picture can be hinged to the border and refitted to the existing frame.
In some instances the frame is smaller than the picture and this presents another set of challenges.
When the picture is just a photo or print a decision can be made to trim the picture down to fit the frame. If the picture has either monetary or sentimental value trimming it may not be an option and you should seek professional advice about making a new frame for the picture.
If the picture is a print or photograph on paper or mounted to a flat backing board you can accurately measure and mark where you need to cut the picture down and then trim it using a sharp craft knife and a straight edge. A normal picture frame rebate is usually cut with a small allowance of 2mm to make fitting the glass, picture and backing easy. When you are measuring the picture make sure you cut it smaller than the tight rebate size to a allow for the expansion and contraction of the paper over time. It is always advisable to place the straight edge over the picture aligning it with the inside of the line you want to cut along. That way if you slip with the knife the picture is protected and you will cut into the waste section. Trim the picture in several passes gradually cutting through the board or paper.
If the picture you are framing is a stretched canvas and the frame is smaller than the painting you have three options to consider. You could remove the canvas from the stretcher and then cut the stretcher frame down to fit the outer frame and then re-stretch the painting. Another alternative that could be used if the frame is only slightly smaller than the painting is to make the rebate in the frame larger. To make the rebate larger you can use a router but a quick method for small adjustments is to trim the rebate out with a craft knife. Make two cuts with the craft knife, one parallel to the face of the frame using the existing rebate as a guide and then cut down at 90 degrees from the back of the frame. This requires several cuts gradually working down and cutting out a small rectangular section to make the rebate wider. This is a simple technique when the timber is soft but can be difficult when it is hardwood. The third option is to make a new frame the right size.
Sometimes the cost saving of buying a cheap ready-made picture frame, that is nearly the right size, is easily diminished by the added expenses of trimming, mat cutting or re-stretching as outlined above.