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Matting and Framing Tutorial
Posted By: anthers, 09-01-2010, 09:01 PM

I was putting together a recent piece to hang in my bedroom and thought I'd take some snaps to help out anyone who was interested in framing their own photos but didn't know where to start. It's also an incidental review of the custom product offered by, which I used for the first time for this project because I wanted to frame a pano (almost no one carries panorama frames in any size other than 12x36).

First off, the parts list -

1. Frame + glazing
2. Mat
3. Backing board
4. 2 D-rings + screws
5. Picture hanging wire
6. Frame bumpers

Items 1-6 are included in the custom framing kit from, kinda nice and a lot more than I was expecting when I placed my order from them.

7. Archival linen hinging tape
8. Archival paper tape
9. Scissors
10. Wire cutters and pliers (or a Leatherman)
11. Tape measure
12. Drill + bits
13. Screwdriver
14. Marking pen
15. Tissue paper for burnishing
16. Paper for protecting the print from a paper weight

Oh yeah, and..

17. The print

Alright, so the first step, if they are not hinged, is to hinge the mat to an archival backing surface using linen hinging tape. I sometimes buy pre-cut mats from Light Impressions, and they usually come hinged. If you cut your own, or buy the custom kit like I did, you'll have to hinge it yourself.

Most frames from Michael's or Aaron Brothers come with a fiber backing board. As far as I know, this isn't an archival surface. I would use a piece of spare matboard cut down to size to mount the print on, then secure everything down with the fiberboard.

You can also not use a backing board and just tape it to the mat.

Once the mat's hinged, set the print down on the backing board and flip the mat over it. Shifting it using just the edges of the print, move it around until you have it properly positioned in the mat window.

I'll usually flip the mat up and down a few times to check the overlap to make sure that there isn't any chance the edge of the print might pop out from the mat edge over time.

Then, use a paper weight to hold the print in place for the next step. My tape measure is hefty enough to do double duty as a weight, with a piece of paper to protect the print.

Alright, time to secure the print to the backing board. I use T-hinges, since they allow the print to expand and contract a bit under changing humidity conditions. They also secure the print with a minimum of fuss, and make it easier to remove the print in the future if you ever want to remat a print (or reuse a mat).

I use 2 t-hinges per print (3 for this pano), spaced out evenly.

The first step is to cut a 1.5-2 inch piece of paper tape and place half of it STICKY SIDE UP underneath the print. Use a piece of tissue paper to burnish the FRONT of the print onto the tape underneath.

The next step is to cut another 2" piece and place it sticky side DOWN onto the piece of tape that's sticking up. Careful not to overlap this piece onto the print surface. Burnish this piece down too.

The finished T-hinge. Ideally you have almost no sticky surface exposed.

If you're using acrylic glazing, it's time to remove the protective sheeting. Do this just before installing everything in the frame, since acrylic scratches easily and you want to leave it protected as long as possible.

If you're using glass, a lot of times it comes with a sheen of manufacturing oil, so before you start, clean it well with a streak-free glass cleaner and a non-linting cloth. If the glass is small, you can try washing it in a sink or the tub, but be real careful not to break it. (Been there, done that... it's pretty dramatic when an 18x24 inch piece of plate glass shatters on the floor in front of you)

Install everything and then check for lint or dirt in between the mat+print and the glazing. Get it out now, before you secure everything down.

Fold down the points.

Next comes installing the hanging hardware. This is pretty much what you need.

1. D-rings, screws, picture hanging wire, bumpers.
2. Drill + drill bits.
3. Tape measure
4. Pliers and wire cutters
5. Marking pen
6. Screwdriver

Measure out the length of the frame sides and mark out the spots for drilling the pilot holes. Generally, I try to pick points that are about 1/3 of the way down from the top of the frame.

First, check the screws against the thickness of the frame - be sure to use screws that are shorter than the frame is thick!

Next, size out the drill bit. I usually pick something that is about as thick or slightly thinner than the screw shaft, not counting the threads.

Finally, I like to wrap some tape around the bit as a depth gauge. I mark it out a little shorter than the screw, since you have to account for the thickness of the D-ring, as well as the fact that the last couple millimeters on the screw shaft are tapered to a point.

Drill out the pilot holes and clean up the wood shavings.

Install the D-Rings.

Install the wire around one end and pull it taught before looping it around the other.

Install the bumpers, and then you're done!

Last edited by anthers; 09-01-2010 at 10:56 PM. Reason: Added the rest of the tutorial!
Views: 8,684
09-02-2010, 12:21 PM   #2
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Great article! +rep

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