Craft & Design
HOW TO – Stretch a canvas…

Stretching 011 ThumbQuick and easy how to on Apartment therapy “Stretching a canvas is easy. You take four planks of wood, make a rectangle and pull the canvas over it. (Or pay framing stores a lot of money to do it for you…). Before you get frustrated starting from scratch get ready made heavy duty stretcher bars (best & cheapest:Utrecht Art Supplies). Their ends fit together so precisely that you don´t need glue or nails. Asembly time for the perfect rectangle: 60 seconds.” [via] Link.

4 thoughts on “HOW TO – Stretch a canvas…

  1. so. yeah. i’m a painter, and i have a fair amount of experience both with hand-constructed and snap-together stretcher frames. several points of contention:

    1. there is no need for the heavy-duty stretcher bars for smaller canvases (under two feet in length). the cost greatly outweighs the benefits, especially if, like this person, you’re not sizing the canvas (which causes it to shrink and can make the interlocking tabs of cheaper stretcher bars snap).

    2. the corners of even the nicer heavy duty bars do not always go together perfectly. you will almost certainly need at least a hammer, and i suggest you use corner clamps or, at very least, check the corners with a t-square before you start putting the canvas on. the other common trick is to hold the frame against the inside of a door frame and hammer at it until it squares.

    3. also, it’s worth considering the purchase or manufacture of bracing bars, for larger canvases. they usually sell them at art stores with the stretcher bars themselves. the bigger your canvas, the more support it’s going to need.

    4. be sure to staple the miter joints of the stretcher bars before you begin to stretch the canvas, as the force of stretching it can, in many instances, turn that “perfect rectangle” into a wonky rhombus.

    5. i have never seen stretcher bars that size for $35, not at utrecht or anywhere else. i would put the cost of a frame those dimensions at maybe 50 bucks, minimum. they might exist cheaper than that, but i wouldn’t count on it.

    6. “Use of an electric stapling gun is mandatory.” why, i wonder? you’re putting 1/4-3/8″ staples into wood that isn’t terribly hard. for heavy-duty bars, you won’t be able to use the flimsiest model of staple gun, rather, you’ll need to go for a combination staple-gun/brad nailer. they cost about 20 bucks. electrics are bulky and break with alarming regularity.

    7. canvas pliers can helpful if you are stretching a canvas that has already been sized with acrylic (as it doesn’t stretch as easily as unprimed canvas), but i don’t really consider them necessary. i’ve stretched dozens upon dozens of canvases in the past couple years, and only once or twice has it ever occurred to me to break out my moldering canvas pliers. but to each his or her own, and if you don’t trust the strength of your hands, you might consider buying a pair (my arthritic grandmother needed them, for instance).

    8. it’s important to remember that when you’re tugging the canvas before stapling it not to just pull straight out, but rather out towards you and away from the center.

    9. printed canvas is hideous. either own up to the fact that you’re a cheapskate or buy a real painting.

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