Measuring for Framing

Most beginners are totally confused when it comes to frame measurements. It’s easy to confuse the inside frame dimension, or ID, with the overall outside dimensions, or OD, of a frame or award project.

Framers always measure their frames as ID. The best way to think of this is when looking for an 8" X 10" photo frame for your 8" X 10" picture, you look for an 8" X 10" frame, regardless of the frame width.

The best way to begin measurements for an award you’d like to frame is to measure from the inside, out. Measure the graphic, medallion or shadowbox objects first and then decide if you need matting or any other type of “enhancements” to your piece, i.e. frame liner, decorated plate, possibly a double or triple mat. Each of these extras will add measurement to the frame you’re building.

I’ve included a sample layout, shown in the above image, to show my progress from where I’ve started framing a picture of my Dad on the golf course. I started with an 8" X 10" photo knowing the mat opening would be 7.5" X 9.5".

Once I positioned the photo, I decided to include an engraved plate to mark the event. Now I can add mat border with measurements and then calculate my frame size.

The frame size is the total of your measurements both vertical and horizontal. My measurements should add up to 11.75" X 15" with everything included.

It’s easy once you start your layout and work out from the inside or center. This is the secret of framing!

Some tips to keep in mind as you go along:

Photos or graphics will generally be cropped by 1/4" per side by either the matboard or the frame “rabbet”. The graphic needs something to hold it in.

A standard “reveal” for a double mat is 1/4". The reveal is the portion of the bottom mat which is showing, usually acting as an accent color.

The frame width is purely optional and is your choice. Narrow or wide, there is no right answer. Either one creates an artistic impression of your design.

—Mark DiBello, About Frames Inc.