"As for making your own frames and mats, I envy you guys. Maybe someday I'll be able to set up a little shop in the garage or basement to do this. "
Truth be told, cutting my own mattes and such was a bit of an opportunity thing really. I had been hitting local garage sales (like I usually do...I'm a HUGE bargain shopper!) and I had not only found a lady who had a bunch of frames, but a whole bag full of frame parts including
one of those small Logan matte cutters and 4 24x36 white mattes....all for $4! From there, it just sort of took on a life of it's own if you will. I made my own cutting table, got a good straight cutter and a couple of pre-cut mattes to use as templates and the rest is pretty much history.
I should add though that I did totally butcher a number of mattes when I was first learning! LOL!!!! It wasn't until I got a couple of pre-cuts to use as a templates that it all really started to come together. I just pick up the large pieces of the Cresent matte board for $5.69 a piece from my local crafts shop, trace the pre-cuts onto the back of it and just "cut along the dotted line" (angle cutter for the inside, straight cutter for the edges). I've actually put mine side by side with the pre-cuts and people really can't tell the difference...in fact, most people guess wrong and say mine are the store-bought pre-cuts because the colors often go together better! LOL!!! I can cut custom sizes now (at least up to the size of my cutting board), but for the sake of ease and convenience, I still pretty much stick with the 8x10 shots in the 11x14 frames. It makes a nice wall size and I can really knock them out left and right. I can easily frame 6 or 8 shots this way in a single evening (which unfortunately is why I have 4 boxes of framed images sitting downstairs and the initial reason for my first post! LOL!!!).
I'm sure you probably know this, but if you're really interested in doing some of your own, check with some local craft stores and you should be able to pickup the pre-cut mattes (as well as the frames to go with them). Around here a nice pre-cut double matte for an 11x14 frame (8x10 opening) is usually less than $5. Even using really nice frames, I can still double matte and frame an 8x10 for less than $40. In fact, I know that two of the crafts shop I go to will even cut the mattes for you for larger sizes and then let you take everything home to assemble yourself. It's not as cheap as doing it all yourself, but it's still MUCH cheaper than having a framing shop do the work for ya and with a little practice, you can achieve the same if not better results than "the pros".
As it is, I usually shop around for clearance frames (scratch & dents that can be cleaned up easily) which I can usually pick up for $2-$4 each and it only costs me about a buck to cut my own mattes (unless I want a special textured matte or something that usually costs a bit more). Since I do most of my 8x10's as "laser prints" as apposed to actual photos, it only costs me $.40 a print...in other words, it costs me less than $5 to print and frame an 8x10 which I later sell for $45! Mwahahahahahaha! It really
beats paying someone else to do it for ya and helps to keep my prices -way- below the competition!
Doing my own frames is another thing entirely. I tend to do quite a bit of woodworking to begin with...if nothing else out of necessity with home repairs. Being a home owner and a hard core DIY'er, over the last 17 years I've picked up two table saws, two miter saws (both Deltas), drill press, routers (just got a new Craftsman router table last summer), band saw...you get the idea. At this point about the only thing my little wood shop out in the garage is really lacking is a good planer/joiner and a molding cutter. As such, cutting wood for frames really isn't a big deal at all for me, but it's taken quite a while for me to learn how to cut glass...and I still end up breaking a lot of it; "Let's see....you score the glass with the cutter...you "tap", "tap", "tap" with the little brass ball along the scored edge and....SMASH!!!!!" - the whole piece of glass goes right into the waste bucket! LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'll get it there eventually
Anyways, just some thoughts on saving some money for ya!