When comparing picture frame joiners, it’s best to start by understanding V-Nailing. Basically, V-Nailing is the driving of a V-shaped nail into the back of a frame so that the two wings imbed themselves on either side of the seam that is formed when the two miters are pressed together to form the frame’s corner. The nail holds the corner together, joining the frame. V-Nailing has an advantage over traditional side-nailing in that the nail is driven behind the frame, eliminating the need to cosmetically cover up the nail head. It is both quicker and easier. V-Nails are not specific as to brand, meaning that any V-Nails can fit into any joiner you may have.
The Logan Studio Joiner
If you want a V-Nailing system that includes a clamp, the most economical option is the Logan Studio Joiner, Model F300-1. This combination press and driving head comes with a corner clamp for holding the miters together while the nail is driven. It utilizes a magnetic nose that holds the V-nail and retracts into a spring loaded sleeve as the collar presses down on the nail. What’s more, it provides additional driving force by way of a lever handle and is therefore reliable for driving hard woods as well as medium and soft woods.
The beam that holds the driving head can be adjusted up and down on parallel posts to allow for superior driving force on different thicknesses of molding. It comes with an assortment of about 50 hard and soft wood V-Nails in 3/8″ size. But the Logan Studio Joiner has one notable drawback. The distance between the driving posts does not allow frames wider than 2½” to be joined. While this is rarely an issue for those who are framing photography or art on paper (which seldom involves using frames wider than 2½”), it can be a concern for those framing oil paintings or larger works demanding more ornate mouldings.
The Framing4Yourself Elite Joiner
For wider frames the best option is the Framing4Yourself Elite Joiner, an expanded version of the Logan Studio Joiner with posts set further apart, allowing for frames up to 3½” wide. As with the Logan Studio Joiner, the press is easy to operate and versatile, capable of driving medium, soft and hard woods. Instead of a corner clamp, the Elite Joiner includes a 4ft x 4ft band clamp for clamping the molding prior to nailing. The band clamp offers the advantage of permitting any width of molding to be clamped, whereas a corner clamp, clamps only up to 2½” wide. Taken altogether, when it comes to value and versatility, the Framing4Yourself Elite Joiner is hard to beat.
A further observation about the band clamp versus corner clamp debate — a corner clamp does not allow the user to see all four corners of the frame fitted securely against each other prior to nailing. Only when all four corners of a frame are fitted together can one make a thorough examination of the seams to be sure no sanding is required. Logan’s suggested method of aligning the sections and running a finger over the miter surfaces prior to placing them in the corner clamp is serviceable but not as sure-fire as pre-clamping with a good quality high-tension band clamp. Customers who purchase a joiner that includes only a corner clamp, like the Studio Joiner, are wise to make an additional purchase of the Framing4Yourself 15 ft Band Clamp or the Bessey 23 ft band clamp to solve the problem at a nominal additional price.
Yet even being able to secure the frame does not solve another problem inherent in laying the frame on its face for nailing: potential damage to the surfaces of highly ornamented frames or those constructed of fragile adornments in compo. For these frames the nail must be driven up from under, a process called “under-pinning”. Logan’s Pro Joiner is a good quality underpinner at an economical price.
The Logan Pro Joiner
In the Logan Pro Joiner, Model F300-2 the frame is clamped face up and adjusted for nail placement and driving force. By pressing the lever, the clamped frame is lowered down to meet the V-Nails which are held in a magnetic cartridge. The cartridge drives two V-nails simultaneously into the wood as the lever is pressed down. The Pro Joiner easily penetrates hard or medium/soft woods and comes with an assortment of V-Nails. The corner clamp is built right into the press. This quick, easy and effective V-Nailer is a favorite among those building frames in a variety of styles. But it has the same drawback as the Logan Studio Joiner. It cannot join frames wider than 2½”.
Logan Elite Professional Underpinner
Framers who want the ease and gentleness of an underpinner, but with the versatility of the Framing4Yourself Elite Joiner, will look to the Logan Elite Professional Underpinner, Model F300-3. This top-of-the-line frame joiner can join frames of any width or thickness with a foot-operated pedal that drives the V-Nails up from under in a smooth, decisive stroke that imbeds V-Nails with accuracy and ease. And it’s all done by hand-hold. No clamps are needed.
Finally, the newest addition to the Logan line of frame joining tools is the Logan Hobby Joiner, Model F300-4. This handheld tool has the advantage of being cost effective, yet leaves something to be desired in performance. As is the case with most handheld frame making tools, the kind of precision demanded by picture framing is rarely satisfied with tools that are not stabilized within a housing or framework. What’s more, driving a V-nail with a tool struck by a hammer does not insure the best quality without some practice. This tool does, however, have the advantage of being able to join any width of frame.
When comparing picture frame joiners, you will want to consider the range of options and choose the tool that is right for you.