Handcrafted picture frames have so much more character than the mass-manufactured ones sold in big box stores. And ultimately, don't you want to frame your pictures in something unique and beautiful? However, as with all goods, handcrafted picture frames are not all created equal. Here are some things to look for in a high-quality, handcrafted frame.
One can make a picture frame simply by gluing four pieces of wood together, but that's not the sturdiest construction. A better way to make the frame is to dovetail the corners. Dovetailing involves cutting "tabs" in the wood and pushing those tabs together. Glue is used, too, but the dovetail construction is the main thing holding the frame in its shape. To tell if a frame is dovetailed, just look at one of the corners; you will see the tabs.
You can leave picture frames natural with no stain. After all, they won't be spending time outside in the elements. But stain does do more than change the color of the wood. It helps seal it against moisture, which may make your frame more durable in the long-term. If the frame ever ends up in a storage unit or in your garage, it will be better protected from moisture damage and from bugs if it has been stained. If you really like light-colored wood, just look for a frame that has been treated with a light stain. It will still look relatively natural.
Some frame makers only bother to finish the outsides of their frames. They may figure that nobody will see the inside. While this is true, rough wood on the inside can snag a photo if you are not careful. The best picture frames are sanded and finished on the inside, as well as on the outside, so you can insert your pictures without concern.
Does the frame you're considering have a back panel made from cardboard or one made from matching wood? While there is nothing exactly wrong with a cardboard-backed frame, one with a wood back is more luxurious. You won't have to be concerned if someone happens to see the back of your picture frames. You can display it standing on a shelf rather than just mounted on a wall.
Look for these qualities when shopping for high-end picture frames such as Jay Strongwater frames. A great frame will last a lifetime -- just like the memories it holds.