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How To Repair A Picture Frame

Picture frames come in all shapes and sizes, though the majority of styles offered by picture framers tend to be fairly simple designs. It is possible though to find some quite interesting frames at art auctions or antique centres, ornate gilt frames that would cost a lot to have ready made are sometimes offered for sale at a reasonable price, especially if the picture it surrounds is either in poor condition or of no merit at all.

Slightly damaged frames can also be cheap to buy and once repaired can provide a high class surround to your paintings.

Repairing glued joints

Movement in the wood due to exposure to hot and cold environments will cause previously glued joints to come apart. As long as the securing pins are still straight, these can be easily re-glued. Start by simply brushing away any dust or dirt and scrape away the old glue. Apply fresh glue and hold the corners in place with a clamp until dry. If you don’t have a frame clamp, you can improvise with wooden blocks and string; put two blocks at the centre of each side of the frame, tie the string firmly around the block, then move them towards the corners to tighten the string.

Re-enforcing corners

Some corners might be visually OK but may need added support to avoid stress. To do this, metal corner plates or pieces of plywood can be screwed to the back of the frame. Be sure the frame is big enough for the screws, otherwise the wood may split or you may find them projecting out at the front.

Ornate and moulded frames

Small chips in moulded frames can be repaired with plastic wood or cellulose filler. For larger areas of damage, take an impression (using model-casting rubber or dental compound) of a similar undamaged part of the frame. Use this to make a mould by pinning the casting material to a flat piece of wood strip, this then can be filled with fibre-glass paste to create a new piece. The finished piece can then be sanded then painted or gilded to match the original.

When framing your picture, always make sure the frame is deep enough to enclose the painting properly, a problem made more obvious with canvas on stretchers. In addition, the chord should be attached to the frame and not the painting stretcher or back panel and fixed just above the centre, this will help the painting hang with a slight tilt which, in turn, allows air to circulate and keeping dust off the picture.

If your painting is going to be mounted behind glass should be separated from the glass by using a card mount or wooden slip (beading). The glass and the backing board can then be sealed to the frame using framers tape to prevent insects from getting in. Use brass or steal fittings as iron or steel will corrode.

Rob Tyrrell is a professional artist, creating fine quality pet portraits in oil. He offers a complete service including framing. To find out how he can offer you the best pet portraits from your photos, visit his web site

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