Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Studio Tools: Glazier Points

A simple, inexpensive, and clean way of securing a painting panel into a wooden frame is to use glazier points, which are available at nearly every hardware store. Glazier points come in several shapes, but those best suited for this use are small pieces of sheet metal, pointed at one end, with two flanges bent perpendicularly to the main body. These flanges provide purchase so that a screwdriver or putty knife can be used to drive the point into the wooden frame, or so that, with a pair of pliers, the point can later be removed more easily. Normally, glazier points are used to hold glass panes in window frames, but they are perfectly suited for this job as well.

Installing the glazier points is easy. After laying your picture frame face down on a soft surface to prevent any scratches to the finish, place your painting panel, also face down, inside the frame. Place a glazier's point flat side down on the back of the panel with the point facing the rabbet. Using a screwdriver tip positioned behind the vertical flanges, slide the point towards the inside of the frame. At this point, it will probably require a little finesse to insert the point: either work the point back and forward while applying pressure, or use a finishing hammer to lightly tap on the back of screwdriver to drive the point into the wood. To keep the frame from moving, you can place the side you are working on against a wall. If the point does not easily go into the frame, you may need to reposition the point left or right to find a softer section of wood. Repeat this process every few inches, or as is necessary according to the size of the frame.

Of course, using glazier points only works on frames which have a rabbet of greater depth than the thickness of the painting panel. Also, if the frame is plastic, or plastic coated wood, it will be much more difficult to drive the point into the frame, and glazier points might not be the best choice for your framing project.


Jeremy Elder said...

Thanks for the cool tip!

Gregory Becker said...

I was wondering how that was done.
Thanks for the tip.

Tim said...

Such a simple thing, yet so useful! Right up there with (almost) the safety pin.

Cathyann said...

Great tip! Thanks.

GrumpyViking said...

Greetings Matt,

Some pointing pointers...

You mentioned the possibility of using a putty knife instead of a screwdriver, but since your pictures show a screwdriver, I thought I would point-out why I prefer a putty knife instead.

When I framed anything using glazier points, the screwdriver often slipped off the points unless it was perfectly centered and pressure was applied in a perfectly straight line. I realized that a tool that is wider than the point will give you much more stability, so I switched to using a putty knife. If you have to use a screwdriver, use the widest one you have. Besides its width, there was another benefit to using the putty knife: While holding the knife with my right hand, I could press down on the blade of the putty knife with my left hand to keep it flat against the back of the artwork. This ensured the points would go in straight, instead of at an angle. (A slight angle may help keep the artwork tight against the frame, but too much makes it more likely they could fall out--or the artwork itself.)

You really shouldn't need a hammer. If you cannot push the points in by hand, use the corner of a single edge razor blade to cut a pilot hole. This really helps with those plastic laminate frames you mentioned. With a wood frame, you can save time by running the blade against the entire edge to score a line. Do not do this with a coated frame, or your entire laminate might peel!

If the frame has glass, and you insist on using a hammer, the bigger surface of a putty knife (versus a screwdriver) disperses any downward impact over a larger area resulting in a reduced risk of breaking the glass. (Obviously, you shouldn't press down the putty knife blade too hard with your left hand when framing something under glass, unless the glass, rather than the frame, is supported from below.)

When using a hammer, place a small piece of masonite or heavy cardboard underneath whatever tool you are going to strike to protect the back of the art from a glancing blow from the hammer.

Watch out for point flanges that stick-up above the back of the frame--they will scratch your wall. It is a good idea to always add stick-on felt or rubber bumpers to the back of your frames.

You mentioned protecting the front of the frame: If you are working on carpet you might want to put down a sheet of brown craft paper to help find the points that will inevitably bounce away--you don't want to be stepping on them later, and like staples, they have a way of getting stuck in your carpet, despite vacuuming.

Do not forget to protect the side that you place against a wall. Instead of working right against the wall, you can use a block of wood (or old book) wrapped in cloth as a spacer to place your frame against. (Or use the spacer against a piece of furniture, like a couch.) The spacer might save you from knocking your head or prevent you from gouging the wall if your screwdriver slips. For smaller works, I simply used to kneel on a framing square, against which I braced the frame. You could also use a large T-square--be creative.

Happy framing!


innisart said...

Thanks GV! All good "points." When are you going to start your own blog? You always had a lot of good information to share.

Since you are "not who you were," which sounds very Batman-esque, I will have to think of you as Bruce Wayne instead of Clark Kent. My email is still the same as before we lost touch, except it is now, if you ever want to drop a line... I still have several art books and videos which belong to you.

Glad to see your web presence.

GrumpyViking said...

Thank you, Matt.

Everyone changes. I miss who I was--the life I had--the friends I had; and I sure have missed those videos! But, ironically (and perhaps symbolizing my entire situation), I no longer even own a VCR with which to watch the tapes.

I will be in touch, but it will take me awhile to retrieve your email address. I had a catastrophic computer meltdown this Spring. I will have to rummage through hundreds of poorly organized back-up CDs.

My contact info is all still the same as before. I won't respond to the Bat-signal--but throwing donuts in the air might bring me hobbling.


tlmerriweather said...

great post! Using info right now.

Frances said...

Thank you so much! I'm getting ready to frame 20+ photographs for my church and wasn't sure how those little buggers worked.

Chloe said...

I just came across this when looking up how to frame panels, super useful post, thank you!