How to stretch a canvas

April 29, 2019 By Prestige Framing 0

Items you will need:

your canvas, stretcher moulding/timber, tape measure, pen/pencil, stapler gun using 12mm(1/2″) staples or panel nails , hammer, saw (miter box for ease), canvas pliers (household pliers can do) and paper to protect the front of the canvas, to protect it while working on it.

To start, measure the border of the canvas (the white space around the sides). A larger border will be easier to work with as this will show the whole  canvas. If the border is larger than 1 1/2”-2” then that will be sufficient to work with. Now measure the inner picture and write down the size. If the border is smaller than 1 1/2” then measure the total dimensions of the canvas and subtract 3” from each measurement (1 1/2” for each side of the painting).

With the measurements from the previous section you can now begin cutting the wood. To cut them properly use a miter box and saw to cut a 45 degree off one end of the wood. Then measure the first length of wood along the long edge of the wood (at the point) and mark with a pencil. Now cut this wood at a 45 degree angle so that the pencil mark stays on the longest side of the wood . Once this is complete you will have another 45 degree angle already cut so simply measure and cut for each of the four pieces.

Now that all the pieces are cut you can assemble the frame. Take the strips and place them so that you have a rectangle. Now begin with two pieces and hold them tightly together to ensure a 90 degree angle between them. Next take the staple gun and staple the two pieces together. Then flip the stretcher moulding over and staple again to make a stronger fix. Now add the other two pieces of s/moulding to this in the same manner, making sure to staple both side and keeping them at a right angle. Now you should have a rectangle the size of your painting!

Now you are ready to stretch the canvas. To do this lay a piece of paper down on a clean surface, and then the canvas face down. Line up the frame so that the moulding is against the canvas. To stretch this pull one side of the canvas up and around and staple it in starting from the centre of that side. Next take the canvas pliers, stretch the canvas on the opposite side and staple in the centre. Flip the canvas over and make sure that it lines up properly with the frame. If it does you can begin stapling the rest of these sides. On the one side of the sides with a staple in it, place two staples, approximately 2”-3” on either side of the centre staple while stretching the canvas. Do the same on the opposite side of the canvas, continue to work your way outwards towards the corners, until there you are about 25mm (1”) from the corner.

Next repeat this process along the other two sides of the painting, stretching the canvas tight. When you have completed this you can fold the corners of the painting as you would a present and staple it down. 

Now you’re finished well done.

If your canvas is especially large then a cross brace or two may be necessary to create a strong frame. It is a matter of preference but generally if the painting is quite large then a cross brace would be a good idea.