Be a Frame Maker

By Eric Hammer

FrameFlickr Photo by Amy

Have you ever purchased a nice painting and then wondered what to do with it? Odds are, you decided to look up frame makers in the telephone book because you wanted to get a custom frame built for the painting. Many people also do the same when they have a wedding photo made. But how do you make frames? Is there money to be made as a frame maker? The answer is a definite yes.

A frame maker is a specialized kind of wood craftsman. Most people who do this kind of work also know general woodworking skills including how to build a cabinet or a book case from scratch. However, because there isn't much call for custom built furniture, many wood crafts people go into frame making, which is still a popular niche.

How Much Can You Make?

According to MyMajors, frame makers earn in the neighborhood of around $31,000 per year. Many are however self employed so the amount you make will largely depend on how good of a business person and salesperson you happen to be.

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Being a frame maker is, as noted, a specialized kind of wood working skill. It involves building custom frames which will adorn the homes of both middle class and wealthy people alike. The job does require an eye for precision along with a good eye for color matching. You need to be able to help customers to visualize what a photo or painting might look like if framed with one of your custom frames.

Frame makers also often do other related kinds of work, including art restoration, restoring old frames and even providing artwork for the home. Most frame makers actually own their own shops and will have framed mirrors and pictures available for purchase in addition to building custom frames for your needs.

Since frame making is a form of wood working, some people who are interested in becoming a frame maker also tend to have an interest in becoming a furniture builder, working with natural wood to create fine, custom furniture. This also tends to lead to a higher class of clientele since very few middle class people tend to order custom furniture while custom frames are still quite popular with the middle class.

Qualifications / Requirements

There are no formal requirements to become a frame maker other than knowing how to build frames. You can learn this skill from a wood working class. If you choose to go into business for yourself, you will however need to get a business license from the government agencies.

First Steps

Start by learning how to do frame making. Visit some shops and ask if you can watch as the frames are bei ng made. Don't be shy about asking questions. Then, contact some local community colleges to find out if they have classes in wood working and make sure to check if they cover building frames.


Check out these helpful resources to learn more about becoming a frame maker:

FrameCo: Master the Art of Picture Framing - A series of online courses designed to teach you everything you need to know about making custom frames.

Stafford Frame Makers - An example of a professional frame maker.

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