It sounds like a lot of effort but patrons will not thank you if they purchase a painting that warps or deteriorates quickly. You want to give them the very best quality you can.
Selecting a cradle
In our local area there are only three options for purchasing birch cradles: Dollar Store - Budget Art Shop - Top of the line Art Shop. Some are available in different depths but the same quality. Sadly none of them are prepped.
As cradles are made from natural products, there is a danger of warping. The less you spend the more likely the cradle is constructed of inferior wood, and the more likelyhood of warping. As a rule deeper frames are stronger and less likely to warp. Warp can be corrected by a frame, but unframed art is more popular, so extra care must be taken. Spending top dollar doesn't necessarily guarantee perfection.
1. Lay each cradle on a flat surface, place two fingers on digonal corners and make sure it doesn't rock. Then place your fingers on the two remaining corners and test. Flip and repeat.
2. Cast your eye down the length and width of the surface to ensure there are no wows.
3. Check the edges for lifting of veneers and holes.
4. Check the painting surface for holes, lifting veneer and roughness.
5. Make sure corners are square. If you have a set square it is really useful here.
Follow my blog for more free art lessons and PART TWO on the correct way to prep the surface.