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How to Make Your Own Stretch Canvas Frame

stretch canvas frame

Do you love to paint, but don’t like the expense of buying a pre stretch canvas frame? Or maybe you’ve tried painting on a canvas that’s not stretchable and the results weren’t what you were hoping for. In either case, learning how to make your own canvas frame is a skill you’ll be glad to know!

In this blog post, we will teach you everything you need to know in order to create your very own stretch canvas frame. We will provide detailed instructions as well as helpful tips and tricks along the way.

Contents

When Do You Need A Custom-made Canvas Frame?

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When you can’t find the size you want, consider taking or making a custom canvas frame. You can also create canvas frames if you want a specific canvas material or heavier stretcher bar that isn’t available in a ready-made pre-stretched canvas.

Another reason is you can save money by stretching your own canvases using the same stretcher bar frame. From a 210cm wide stretcher bars and full 10m roll of canvas, you can make 39 50x60cm standard depth canvases or 6 150x200cm deep profile canvases.

This is after wrapping the canvas tight around to the back and cutting off the excess canvas you use to hold and pull your own canvas.

It’s also a great way to spend the coldest days of the year. Many artists set aside a few weeks in the middle of winter to prepare unstretched canvas or loose canvas, since it gives you a little exercise and keeps you warm.

What To Consider When Planning To Stretched a Canvas

Most artists checked the following while planning on stretching canvas painting:

Level of oil paint is projected by the thickness of the paint. It is shown by how far the artist paints projects from the wall.

Strength of the stretcher bar is (Professional wooden, Museum wooden, Museo Alu-Pro aluminium)

  • Presence of center or cross bars. One of the tools required in creating stretching painting frames are bars. If you want to make your whole canvas stronger, you can add center bars or cross bars on opposite sides
  • The canvas material should be made either of cotton, jute, or linen
  • Weight of canvas (in grams per square meter or ounces per yard).
  • Brand of canvas (Artfix (French linen), Claessens (Belgian linen), Belle Arti (Italian linen and cotton), Jackson’s, etc). (Indian cotton)
  • Whether you want to use the canvas horizontally (landscape) or vertically (portrait) will affect how you fold the corners. The priming (un-primed, universal primed, oil primed, glue sized): After it is stretched, if you want to, you can prime it with a primer that has the qualities you need, either on an unprimed canvas or by adding another coat of the primer of your choice to a universal primed canvas. Painters who use watercolors can add one or two coats of an absorbent ground, and painters who use pastels can add one layer of pastel ground.

How To Make A Canvas Frame

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Canvas Stretching Materials You’ll Need

Wooden Bars with a Ledge

You’ll use two perpendicular and two horizontal pieces of wood to make the frame itself. Size is up to you. Just ensure that the pieces you select have a ledge so that the frame won’t touch your art. Most of the time, these pieces made for interior trim work are great for framing.

Chips Of Wooden Bars

Chipboard is a strongly manufactured wood material that is sometimes called a particleboard. It will be used to reinforce the corners of your frame.

Tape Measure And Pencil

You’ll need a measuring tape and a pencil to write down the sizes of your frame.

Hand Saw

Once you know how long you want your wooden profile pieces to be, you can use a hand saw to cut them to that length. If you’ve never used a saw before or want to avoid getting sawdust in your eyes, you might also want to get work gloves or goggles.

Sandpaper

With sandpaper, the edges of your profile pieces will be smoothed so that they fit together perfectly.

Industrial Glue

You will use industrial glue to stick your profile and chipboard pieces together. Elmer’s glue with extra strength will work for smaller pieces, but you might want to use timber glue for bigger pieces because the canvas is bigger and heavier.

Canvas

You’ll also need canvas, which you can get at a store that sells art supplies or a fabric store. Make sure you pick a canvas that can be stretched and isn’t too stiff.

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Shears

Have a strong pair of scissors on hand to cut your canvas before stretching it over the wooden frame.

A Stapler And Some Staples

You will need a staple gun and staples to keep the canvas in place over the frame as you stretch it.

Primer

If you’re making a frame for a new canvas instead of working with one that already exists, you’ll need primer to get the surface ready. You should use a primer that goes with the medium you want to use, like acrylic or oil.

Steps On How To Make Your Own Canvas Frame

same size wall paintings

Step 1: Select The Appropriate Size And Cut The Frame Parts.

Once decided on the size of your artwork, cut four 1×2 pieces (one for each side of the canvas) with a 45-degree angle at each end.

A miter box and hand saw, as well as power tools, can be used. Either way works perfectly. The most important thing is to make good, equal 45-degree cuts at either end of the planks so that it fits together properly at the corners.

Step 2: Bind The Corners Together Of The Stretcher Bars.

Used wooden frame cut with a mitered mortise and tenon joint, so they don’t need any extra fixing. Each corner will be joined by putting a flat slot end into an angle flap end. All the bars have a cantilever, so the canvas stretcher bars slope down toward the center of the frame.

Others bind the corners together, using a simple hand-powered staple gun and normally apply three staples on both the front and back of the joint.

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Step 3: The Entire Structure Becomes Incredibly Sturdy And Rigid With 6 Staples Fixing Each Corner.

Also, with this, the border of the bar doesn’t leave a mark on the canvas from behind when you paint it. The canvas will only touch the very outside borders of the stretcher bars. The standard stretcher bars are sloped, while the deep-profile bars have a roll of extra wood that goes around the outside of the stretcher frame to make a rim.

Make sure that all of the flat sides of the frame face down, so that all of the angled sides face up. This will make the cantilever. You can knock them into place with a rubber mallet.

If you only have a hammer, you can use that instead, but make sure to put a piece of scrap wood between the hammer and the bar. Dents from the hammer can show up as visible dents on the side of your stretched canvases, especially if the dent is on a part where the canvas touches the wood.

Step 4: Create A Raised Edge By Cutting Trim Pieces.

It’s crucial to keep the canvas high off the frame when stretching it. Hence, employ quarter-round trim pieces, so the outside border of the frame has a lip or edge. Cut the trim pieces with the same tool you used to cut the other pieces of planks.

However, instead of a power tool, you could also choose to utilize a miter box. Moreover, the trim pieces are so thin, so if you use a power saw, make sure to brace them with another piece of planks so they don’t move around and your fingers aren’t too close to the blade when cutting.

Step 5: Stretcher Bar Corner Quarter Rounds

Unlike 1x2s, a single saw cut does not create a flawless corner out of two trim pieces. To get the appropriate angle, you’ll always have to remove one piece back and cut off another small amount.

Put a long piece down and mark just once where the next cut will be, and then continue that technique for the next side of the frame. Do this until you have all of the trim pieces you require.

Cutting all of your pieces at once is usually not a good idea because the angles to cut on quarter-rounds are more difficult than on 1x2s.

Place one flat side of the quarter-round against the stretcher bars and the other flat side facing outward to produce a raised lip or edge. The curved edge of the quarter-rounds should face inward toward the frame’s center.

Step 5: Trim The Pieces Using Headless Nails

All that remains is to permanently fasten the quarter-rounds in place. The best method to do this is to use headless nails to secure them to the frame. You may use branded “wire brads,” but finishing nails would also work.

Buy nails that are no longer than the width of your quarter-round and 12 combined, and space them roughly every 4 inches along the trim pieces, or until it is securely in place.

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Step 6: Check The Frame’s Outside Edges And Corners For Sharp Borders

Sometimes, sharp corners need to be sanded so that it doesn’t tear the canvas when it’s pulled very tight. If you wrap all the corners as far as they’ll go, it should be very close to square (all the corners at 90 degrees).

But you should check each one every time. Measure both diagonals and compare the numbers to make sure that the finished product is a perfect rectangle. The numbers should be very close to each other. Tap on the sides of the corners a bit until the diagonals of both corners are the same.

How to Stretched Canvas

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Step 1: Buy A Stretcher Frames Or Make One Yourself.

Canvas frames are sometimes called “stretcher bars,” which are made of slats that are already cut to fit together. This is the fastest and easiest way to make the frame fit your needs and put it together.  Stretcher bars are used by most painting pros.

DIY frame kits like EasyWrappe come in a variety of sizes and can be used to quickly attach a canvas to a frame without using any other tools besides an X-Acto knife to cut off any extra canvas. You can only choose from a few sizes, but the pre-cut wood bars can be stuck to the canvas and held in place in less than five minutes.

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Step 2: Get The Right Amount Of Canvas.

Get enough canvas to wrap around the frame with at least six or eight inches on each side, depending on how wide the frame is.

If you don’t have enough canvas that overlaps to attach to the back of the canvas, the stretching won’t work. Measure the size of the frame you already have or the size of the canvas you want to use, and buy or cut a larger size of canvas to fit.

Canvas that has not been primed or “gessoed” is easier to stretch than canvas that has been primed or “gessoed.”For the best results, buy canvas that hasn’t been primed yet.

Step 3: Get The Other Things You Need To Finish The Job.

To do a good job of stretching your own canvases, you’ll need a few simple tools. You should try to get the following:

A spray bottle with just water in it: Most of the time, the back of a stretched canvas is wetted. It will shrink as it dries, making the canvas even tighter.

Gesso: Most of the time, this primer is used to treat the canvas after it has been stretched. It’s a mixture of gypsum, chalk, and other things that is in most art supply stores.

Specialized pliers: are used to stretch canvas. This framing tool can be found at most art supply stores. They have even surfaces that make it easy to stretch canvas without making holes in it.

Staple gun: Normal office staplers are not enough to stretch canvas. To put staples into wood, you need a heavy-duty staple gun and carpentry staples that can grip into the frame.

X-Acto X2000 No-Roll Rubber Barrel Knife with #11 Replaceable Blade and Safety Cap (X3724)

Step 4: Make Sure The Canvas Is Bigger Than The Stretching Frames

Artist use tape measure and add 20 to 30 cm to the length and width of the stretcher frame. This will cover the back and opposite side of the frame. Then get your canvas cut. The canvas should be cut a few inches wider than the length and width of the stretcher bars.

The width of each side of the frame should also be taken into account. You’ll need this extra canvas to give you something to hold onto so you can pull and stretch the main canvas. Once you have everything you need, including the frame and canvas, cut the canvas to size with a sharp utility knife or an X-Acto.

If you tear the canvas instead of cutting it, you will get a straighter line. Start the cut along the right line with your knife, and if you want a precise shape, you might want to tear along the grain.

Use heavy duty scissors or a knife with a straight edge to cut your piece of canvas from the roll. This means 20 cm for standard depth and 30 cm for deep profile.

Step 5: Place The Large Canvas On A Clean Floor Or Table.

Make sure the primed side is facing down. Place the prepared stretcher frame face down (flat side up) on the canvas piece. Check that the weave of the fabric is parallel to the stretcher bars.

If you think you may have moved the frame out of place, check the diagonals again and make any necessary changes.

For big canvases, it’s best to build the stretcher frame first and then lay it on top of the canvas before doing the final diagonal measurements and knocking it to make it square. Because it will move if you do it before you put it down.

When using a mallet, hit it once on two opposite corners  to move the measurement by 1 cm or more. Do not  hit it on the point of the corner, but on the flat side of a corner. So, keep in mind that a tap does a lot right now.

painting stretch canvas frame paint

Step 6: Keep The Tension Of The Canvas The Same Everywhere.

Tuck the canvas back over the frame on one side. Put a staple in the middle of the frame to hold it together. You will start in the middle and work your way out to the corners, always turning the frame or moving around on the floor, switching sides so that the tension is even on all parts.

Step 7: Use Canvas Pliers To Grab The Edge Of The Canvas

Tuck the edge if you need a thicker spot to grab and rock the pliers to tighten the canvas. Usually, you start with bars closest to the artist and grip the edge of the canvas with the pliers using an underhand grip.

Pliers are one of the tools required for canvas stretching. You then rock the pliers away from you to stretch the canvas up over the corner until the back of the canvas is smooth and you can see a sharp edge shape on the bar.

Next, hold the canvas taut with your finger, drop the pliers, and use that hand to pick up the staple gun and add two staples. The canvas doesn’t spring back very hard, so all you need is your finger.

If you don’t have canvas pliers, you can pull with your hands, but it’s not as easy. When you turn the canvas over, you should see a diamond pattern that shows how tight the first staple is on each side.

Work your way out from the middle, back and forth on different sides of the bars. Do this until you are close to the corners. Place the three staples 5 to 20 cm apart. Leave 10 to 15 cm between more staples on large canvases and 5 to 10 cm between more staples on smaller canvases.

(The centre-cross-stretching method has been around for a long time, but there is also a method that traces the shape of the stretcher frame on the canvas and stretches from the corners in instead of from the middle of the bars out.

Step 8: Don’t Overstretch Unprimed Canvas

If your canvas has no prime yet, don’t stretch during framing. The primer when wet shrinks the canvas. Hence the tension will either stretch the staples or bend the wood.

You might want to use a tack hammer to push the staples in even more if they are sticking up. After doing the painting, go around the whole canvas and tap all the staples. Not always can you tell when they are not fully in.

Stop stapling at least 10cm from the corner so you have room to move the fabric for the corner tuck.

Note that it can be tricky to stretch linen that hasn’t been primed until you get used to it. It can stretch, so you might need to put temporary staples in the borders at the beginning to keep the weave straight, and then take them out after you’ve worked out from the center.

Folding the Border

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Step 1:

When you fold a neat corner in the back, make the bump on the back as flat and smooth as possible. Control where the small tuck bump is. Since the small fold bump shows up a little on the edge, make sure it’s on the top and bottom.

This will make the sides look smoother. Know how to place the stretched canvas so you can decide which way to pull over the tuck.

Step 2:

Keep stretching and stapling all the way to the corner. Put the last staple parallel to the top edge near the edge of the fabric. Make the smooth, taut edge of the canvas on the sidebar be your top priority. Doing step one on all four borders  helps track the best way to fold the canvas.

Step 3:

Still focusing on how the visible side and corner look, pull the flap toward the center of the canvas to make a triangular fold that falls right where a mitre joint would be in the corner of the wood frame. Double check that the corner is smooth and not puckered. Use your fingers to press the fold.

Step 4:

The last fold in the frame involves a bit of wiggling. Reach under the fold, and making sure everything is tuck in smoothly.  Also, check the corner, and make sure it is not loose or puck. Pull the last flap over so that the side is parallel to the top bar, but not showing over the edge.

Staple the fold down, but don’t staple through the corner of the stretcher frame. If you stapled over the joint in the frame, you wouldn’t be able to use the wedges to make the borders bigger in the future.

How To Frame A Perfect Canvas

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Take The Acrylic Painting Canvas Off The Planks

Just take out all the staples and lift the linen canvas carefully. To get the unstretched canvas into the frame, you might have to cut off some of the extra fabric of the canvas.

How To Fold Or Cut Canvas

Fold away the edges without paint to make the picture fit. You can use a matte to cover up the rough edges of the painting.

Use a razor and a straightedge to cut away the blank part of the canvas. It could be tricky, and mess up or damage the painting. Hence use this strategy only if you are used to it.

The canvas fabric is pretty stiff, so all you had to do was fold it down along the edges and press it with your fingers.

Use Tape To Secure The Corners.

Tape the corners all the way around. Make sure that the borders are neat, like wrapping a present.

Take the roll of blue painter’s tape out of the craft bucket and put a small piece of it in each of those borders to make sure they didn’t move.

Take Away The Board

For the frame, take off the backboard. Bend the metal clips up and away from the board in order to do this.

Sometimes you can do it with your fingers only. However, there are times where the clips are thick and hard to move around. During those situations, use a small screwdriver with a flat head or canvas pliers.

Clean The Glass

Once the back was off, took out all the papers and old art and put the painting frame on the table with the front of the painting facing down.

Then use a rag and a mixture of vinegar and water to wipe the inside of the glass. This will take away any dirt or dust present in the glass. Then put the canvas, which you fit inside the frame. The flat glass is optional, especially for those who hate dust.

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