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Video:How to Stretch a Canvas

with Jeanine Hattas

Stretching your own canvas is easy and economical. Learn the tricks of the trade that will have yours looking just like it came from the art store.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Stretch a Canvas

You can of course go to an art store and purchase a pre-made canvas - they tend to be a little more expensive. The great alternative is making it yourself - it's relatively inexpensive, and also relatively easy to do.

Hi - I'm Jeanine Hattas with Fresh Custom Art and Murals and today we're going to learn how to stretch a canvas.

Supplies to Stretch Canvas

Things you'll need:
  • stretcher bars
  • hammer or mallet
  • canvas
  • canvas pliers
  • staple gun
  • 3/8" staples
  • t-square or measuring tape

Assemble the Stretch Bars

We're going to start with four stretcher bars, two of each size that you desire. These come pre-mitered with slots, so you just press them together like this. Sometimes the slots are a little tight and you'll need to use a hammer or mallet just to gently tap it together. Many of the stretcher bars have beveled edges on both sides - if yours only has a beveled edge on one side, make sure that all the bevels are facing the canvas.

We'll make sure that the frame is square, and use a T-square. Line it up with one edge and make sure the other edge is straight. We're looking good. Another way to make sure that your frame is square is to use a measuring tape and measure diagonally on both sides, and make sure that number is the same.

Stretch the Canvas

Next, lay out your piece of canvas - you're going to want at least two inches around your entire frame. Now we'll secure it. Start on the long side, fold it over and just put one staple roughly in the center. When doing the canvas, we want to work on opposites, so once that staple's in we're going to go to the opposite side, but we need to stretch it very taut. These are canvas pliers - they're going to ensure that the canvas doesn't tear when you pull it, and will also make sure you pull it very tight. Now we'll go to the short sides. Pull it tight, one staple.

Staple the Canvas

Now we'll go back to the original side with the first staple - we'll do a staple on the right and a staple on the left about two inches apart. Then, we'll go back to the second side, the third side, and the fourth side and so the same thing. When doing you final staples, you want to leave at least two inches on the edge for when we do the corners.

You'll want to make sure that these end up as tight as possible, so if you plan to frame the canvas, the frame will get around it. First what we'll do is pull the one side very tightly inward and place a staple. You'll want to stay away from the miter - try not to staple over the miter. Tuck this corner in, so you have a straight edge here and fold the other side down. This might take some practice. And, staple that down. Kind of like making a bed. And we'll do that to all the corners.

Okay, there we have it - we have staples about two inches all the way around. When your canvas is completed, it should be taut, like a drum. And there's our canvas - now it's ready for priming.

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