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Framing an Oil Painting (10 lb. Frame)
by John O'Keefe Jr.

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Framing a painting tutorial by John O'Keefe

This framing tutorial demonstrates a technique for mounting an original oil painting to a Hudson River School style, solid wood with compo, reproduction frame. The painting is entitled, "Moment of Reflection" by John O'Keefe Jr., and is 6" by 12" in size. The hardware for this project includes D-Ring Hangers, Coated Hanging Wire, Rabbet Felt, and Canvas Offsets. The combined frame, hardware, and painting weight is approximately 10 pounds, and the hardware specified accordingly.

Please read each of the below steps carefully and refer to the accompanying images. This tutorial (and the specified hardware) is recommended for this specific painting size and frame weight but can be adapted for any frame and painting weighing between 8 to 12 pounds.

INSTALLING D-RING HANGERS AND WIRE

Framing a Painting - Step 1 - Assemble all Materials

Step 1

Assemble all materials and tools before starting.

  1. Tape Measure
  2. Wire Cutters
  3. Screw Driver
  4. Hanging Wire
    (#5 Coated Stainless
    Steel Wire - Rated
    for 43 lbs.)
  5. D-Rings & Wood Screws
    (2-Hole D-Ring Hangers
    Rated for 30 lbs. ea.;
    #6 x 1/2" Wood Screws)
  6. Frame (not shown)
  7. Soft Cloth Work
    Surface (not shown)

Framing a Painting - Step 2 - Measure Apex of Hanging Wire

Step 2

Thoroughly clean the rear of the frame of all debris and wood burrs. Next, mark the wire apex location: It is essential to set the apex sufficiently below the top edge of the frame so that wall hanging hardware will not be visible from the final viewing position.


Framing a Painting - Step 3 - Measure Vertical D-Ring Position

Step 3

It is recommended to position D-Ring hangers approximately 1/3 of the overall frame height from the top edge. (In our example that distance is about 5-1/4" from the top edge.) Mark the distance as shown. Repeat on the opposite side of the frame.


Framing a Painting - Step 4 - Measure Horizontal D-Ring Position

Step 4

The distance from the outside edge to the location of the outer D-Ring mounting screw should be approx 1", but this distance can vary depending on the construction method and width of the frame. (Our D-Ring is approx. 2-1/4" long and our frame width is over 5", so the 1" distance is appropriate.) Mark the distance as shown. Repeat on the opposite side.


Framing a Painting - Step 5 - Attach First D-Ring Hanger

Step 5

Install first D-Ring hanger starting with the exterior wood screw position mark from step 4. Depending on the density of your wood frame you might need to drill pilot holes before installing your wood screws - our frame's wood is soft enough that the screws installed without pilot holes. The D-Ring hanger should be angled so that the plane between the outer and inner wood screw holes intersect with the estimated wire apex position from step 2 - see image at left. Install the inner wood screw as shown.


Framing a Painting - Step 6 - Attach Second D-Ring Hanger

Step 6

As in step 5, position the second D-Ring hanger at the proper angle and install wood screws, starting with the outer wood screw.

Our D-Ring hangers are of the two hole style and are rated for 30 lb that is about three times the total weight of our project - over specifying is better. It is our recommendation to use D-Ring hangers with 2 or more holes made of steel. We use Zinc plated steel D-Rings in this project.


Framing a Painting - Step 7 - Attach Hanging Wire to First D-Ring with Lark's Head Knot

Step 7

Starting with the first D-Ring, loop wire into a Lark's Head knot (see step-by-step diagram below) with 7 to 10 twists and cut end. Important note: Do not leave the end of wire dangling - cut it close to twists as shown. Dangling wire ends can poke into painting from the rear resulting in a dent to the canvas or worse. Use galvanized braided steel wire that is rated for at least four times the weight of the frame, artwork and hardware weight. (The hanging wire on our example is a coated #5 braided steel and rated for 43 lbs.)

Framing a Painting - Step 7 - Lark's Head Knot Step-By-Step Instructions

Framing a Painting - Step 8 - Apply Tension to Hanging Wire Just Below Apex Position

Step 8

Pull wire through second D-Ring loop (without making a knot) while holding wire just below the apex position - pull the hanging wire tight (as shown in image) until wire sets at 2nd D-Ring position. You now have a bend in the hanging wire as a reference starting location for step 9.


Framing a Painting - Step 9 - Attach Hanging Wire to Second D-Ring with Lark's Head Knot

Step 9

Form second Lark's Head knot (using the diagram from step 7) as shown.


Framing a Painting - Step 10 - Remove Slack From Hanging Wire By Pulling to Apex Position

Step 10

After forming both Lark's Head knots, pull wire tightly to apex position until all slack is removed. Your frame is ready for hanging!

INSTALLING RABBET FELT STRIPS

Framing a Painting - Step 1 - Assemble all Materials

Step 1

Assemble all materials and tools before starting.

  1. Tape Measure
  2. Scissors
  3. Rabbet Felt Strips
    (1/4" Wide Adhesive
    Backed Decco-Felt Strips)
  4. Frame (not shown)
  5. Soft Cloth Work
    Surface (not shown)

Framing a Painting - Step 2 - Cut Fell Strips to Rabbet Lengths

Step 2

Cut Felt strips to match the dimensions of the Rabbet width and height, and dry fit pieces into place - two strips cut to the Rabbet Height dimension and two strips at the Rabbet Width dimension - as shown. (note: There will be a slight overlap of rabbet felt at the corners, that gets corrected in step 3.)


Framing a Painting - Step 3 - Cut 45 Degree Chamfer to Felt Strip Ends

Step 3

After dry-fitting the Rabbet Felt strips, cut a 45-degree chamfer at each end as shown.


Framing a Painting - Step 4 - Remove Adhesive Backing and Install Felt Strips into Rabbet

Step 4

Install Rabbet Felt strips on all sides after peeling back the adhesive backing as shown.


Framing a Painting - Step 5 - Check that Felt Strip Corners Do NOT Overlap

Step 5

After installing Rabbet Felt strips on all sides check that corners do not overlap - However, small gaps between the Felt in the corners it acceptable.

Why take the extra precaution of adding Rabbet Felt?

Framing a Painting - Example of Rabbet Damage to Unprotected Painting Surface

INSTALLING ARTWORK AND CANVAS OFFSET CLIPS

Framing a Painting - Step 1 - Assemble All Materials

Step 1

Assemble all materials and tools before starting.

  1. Screw Driver
  2. Canvas Offsets
    (3/8" Zinc Plated Steel)
  3. Artwork (not shown)
  4. Frame (not shown)
  5. Soft Cloth Work
    Surface (not shown)

Framing a Painting - Step 2 - Fit Painting into Frame Rabbet

Step 2

Place painting into Rabbet opening, seating the face of the artwork onto the Rabbet Felt strips applied earlier.


Framing a Painting - Step 3 - Attach Offset Clips Roughly 4 to 6 Inches Apart

Step 3

Install Canvas Offsets about 4-6" apart as shown in the image. Only install wood screws into the wood frame, not into the stretcher bars of the artwork.

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John O'Keefe Jr.
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About the Author...
     John specializes in landscape oil painting done in a style similar to the famous Hudson River School and Victorian era artists. He also specializes in reproduction painting frames, framing supplies and Giclee prints of his landscape paintings.
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