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Everything You Need to Know About Wood Molding

In the world of custom picture frames, there are literally hundreds of wood mold designs and shapes available. Walk in to any frame shop and a buyer can quickly become overwhelmed by the huge number of choices available.  But if armed with a little knowledge upfront, navigating though this barrage of frames can be done with relative ease. This article breaks it all down. 

 

All picture frame molding is designed around two dozen or so basic designs. Of these, ten or so make up the bulk of the most popular moldings sold. The key is to understand these basic designs because once a framer figures out which basic type of molding is desired, he or she can make other decisions--such as picture frame width and color--much quicker. This article covers each of the most common mold designs.

 

The Ten Basic Shapes

These shapes make up the bulk of the framing industry. For most framing projects, they offer enough variety from which the framer can choose.  Figures 1 and 2 below show these wood molding shapes along with explanations regarding when to use each type. 

 

Molding shapes 1 and 2 (figure 1) are the most common round shapes used in the framing industry.  Shape 2 is considered a Half-Round (also known as Clamshell) and today is slightly more popular than the fully round shape. Shape 3 (figure 1) is called a flat frame. Today, flat frames are far more popular than rounded frames. Most photographers will gravitate towards these simple flat frames because they do not detract the viewer's eye from the photograph. They are also the most affordable type of frame. Each of these frame shapes are available in a variety of colors, finishes, and shades. 

 

Frame 4 (figure 1) is called a Reverse Sloop. Its straightforward and sleek design lends itself to the framing of contemporary pieces and sometimes awards and certificates. This molding shape also reflects light away from the artwork, which can be a characteristic sought in certain framing projects.


Frame 5 (figure 2) is a Shallow Scoop. Since it has higher outer edges, it draws the viewer’s eye into the frame. Due to its dramatic and relatively wide slope, this frame is best used for large frames (over 20 inches). The shape neatly separates the artwork and matting from the wall on which it will be hung.

 

Mold 6 (figure 2) is a Reverse Scoop and its main characteristic is that it slopes away from the artwork. It tends to push the artwork outward and away from the frame. Note that this Reverse Sloop pictured in this article has two rabbets.  

 
Wood Frame Molding
 

In the world of custom picture frames, there are literally hundreds of wood mold designs and shapes available. Walk in to any frame shop and a buyer can quickly become overwhelmed by the huge number of choices available.  But if armed with a little knowledge upfront, navigating though this barrage of frames can be done with relative ease. This article breaks it all down. 

 

All picture frame molding is designed around two dozen or so basic designs. Of these, ten or so make up the bulk of the most popular moldings sold. The key is to understand these basic designs because once a framer figures out which basic type of molding is desired, he or she can make other decisions--such as picture frame width and color--much quicker. This article covers each of the most common mold designs.

 

The Ten Basic Shapes

These shapes make up the bulk of the framing industry. For most framing projects, they offer enough variety from which the framer can choose.  Figures 1 and 2 below show these wood molding shapes along with explanations regarding when to use each type. 

 

Molding shapes 1 and 2 (figure 1) are the most common round shapes used in the framing industry.  Shape 2 is considered a Half-Round (also known as Clamshell) and today is slightly more popular than the fully round shape. Shape 3 (figure 1) is called a flat frame. Today, flat frames are far more popular than rounded frames. Most photographers will gravitate towards these simple flat frames because they do not detract the viewer's eye from the photograph. They are also the most affordable type of frame. Each of these frame shapes are available in a variety of colors, finishes, and shades. 

 

Frame 4 (figure 1) is called a Reverse Sloop. Its straightforward and sleek design lends itself to the framing of contemporary pieces and sometimes awards and certificates. This molding shape also reflects light away from the artwork, which can be a characteristic sought in certain framing projects.


Frame 5 (figure 2) is a Shallow Scoop. Since it has higher outer edges, it draws the viewer’s eye into the frame. Due to its dramatic and relatively wide slope, this frame is best used for large frames (over 20 inches). The shape neatly separates the artwork and matting from the wall on which it will be hung.

 

Mold 6 (figure 2) is a Reverse Scoop and its main characteristic is that it slopes away from the artwork. It tends to push the artwork outward and away from the frame. Note that this Reverse Sloop pictured in this article has two rabbets.  

 
Wood Frame Molding
 

The More Complex Shapes

The next sets of shapes are more complex and not as widely used. They are employed in more complex or high-end framing jobs. These frames will only be available as custom picture frames and not as ready made frames. If you are new to framing and looking to use any one of these, it might make sense to visit a professional framing shop. The cost of some of these moldings can run in the double digits per foot.

 

Molding 14 and 16 are both fancy scoops. Number 14 might be called a Deep Scoop with Crown, while number 16 might be referred to as a Scoop with Round Back. The truth is that there is very little true nomenclature consistency in the framing industry.

 

Number 17 is called Hogarth molding and is very popular with etchings or antique pieces because it has a strong black lacquer finish. This molding is not common and originally from England (or ancient Greece depending on how far one wants to go in history).


The Wedge (18) is a tall frame and its main characteristic is its depth. Artwork will sink into molding. This may be a desired characteristic for some pieces, but not for others. 


Numbers 19, 20, and 21 are traditionally called Wedges and they became popular in United States after the Second World War. However, today this molding will most likely be found listed as a Shadow Box. The reason, of course, is that they are very deep and can accomodate 3D objects.


The Shell Scoop (23) and Reverse Shell (24) are more like crown molding than picture frame molding. They are seldom used and very troublesome to cut, as it is difficult to put the sharp angles into vices. They are much more like crown molding in a home then a picture frame. But of course, this is a desired look for some pieces.


Liners: A Frame Within a Frame

An often used method for large, complex artwork is to put two frames inside of each other. This can add complexity and depth to a frame. It can add a custom look that is unique to give a real custom look. They are most often used for larger pieces larger than 32 inches on either side. Frames 7, 10, 11, 12 and 13 are all examples of various liners and each have different technical names which will not be covered in this article (as few in the industry know or use them anymore). If this molding is desired for a framing project, it is highly advisable to seek out the help of a professional framer.

Picture Frame Molding
We hope that this article was of some use. If you have any questions or would like to use it in making a frame purchase, please do not hesitate to contact us.
 



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