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Workstation for Picture Frame Restorer

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A woman with severe back and neck pain is employed as a picture frame restorer at a frame restoration company. Her work consists of refurbishing picture frames by applying paint remover, stain, and in some cases, gold leaf finish. When this individual first began work at the shop she was required to perform her job tasks using a standard flat surface work bench or stand and bend over a flat work surface. The job required her to pick up the picture frames and rotate them so she could evenly apply the finish to the entire frame. She was not able to bend over the table surface without experiencing pain, and also found it difficult to lift and move the often heavy picture frames.


Woman restoring a picture frame, with the frame held in an upright position by the workstation.
Woman restoring a picture frame, with the frame held in an upright position by the workstation.

A custom workstation was designed. It consists of a worktable that includes a separate revolving grid that provides an indexed tilting mechanism and a 350-degree rotation. This allows the user full positioning of the frame without the need to lift or bend over the table.

The worktable height accommodates the user while standing. A height adjustable work stool allows work to be performed comfortably from a seated position. A footrest, which provides proper strain relief to the back when one foot is placed upon it, is mortised into the front legs of the worktable. The grid surface of the worktable has a 90-degree indexed rotation that allows the user access to all sides of the frame, and a 30-degree indexed tilt that provides access to the inner edges of the work piece. Release and locking of tilt and rotation is done using control handles on the table front. Gas-charged springs raise the frame for the user, and require only minimal force to lower the frame and grid back to a horizontal position.

The table surface was designed as a grid to allow paint and solvent spills to drip through to prevent blemishes on the frame in progress.

Frames are attached to the grid by a series of clamps that hold the frame by the unfinished inner edge. The system supports a wide range of frame sizes.

Cost Analysis

The cost of the project was $6,500 with most of the costs going toward personnel time for design and fabrication. Estimated cost of materials amounted to around $500.00.

Repeatability of Solution

The solution worked well and could be adapted to other settings/individuals. Although the individual for whom the worktable was designed is no longer working at the company, other employees of the company continue to use the table. There are significant universal design characteristics that could apply to various bench work operations.


Alan Harp, Industrial Designer

CATEA (formerly Center For Rehab. Technology) at Georgia Tech

676 Marietta St.

Atlanta, Ga. 30318

Phone: 404-463-2557