How to Stretch Your Own Canvas

How to Stretch Your Own Canvas

If a pre-made canvas gets damaged beyond repair but the frame is still OK, what do you do? One option is to strip the damage canvas and stretch your own.

People often stretch their own canvas because it can prove cheaper than buying pre-made ones and you can make it to the size that you want.

For this you will need the following:-

  1. Unprimed Cotton Canvas
  2. Four stretchers or a pre made frame (the wood that makes up the frame, you can make these yourself)
  3. Staple Gun (or carpet tacks and a hammer)
  4. Corner Keys (the wedges used to tighten your finished canvas)
  5. Canvas Pliers

First of all join the stretchers together. Lay them out and push the corners together. Check that the corners are at right angles with a book or something similar.

Roll out the canvas and put the frame on top of it, then cut it to size bearing in mind that the canvas has to fold over the frame to be stapled on the back. Be generous with the canvas you can trim excess off later when you've finished stretching.

When stretching the best technique is to start at the middle and work out in opposites. So starting in the middle on any side, staple the canvas to the back of the frame. Now put two more staples in about two inches apart, don't worry if you use more staples, practice will give you a better idea on how many to use. Move to the opposite side and while pulling the canvas tight with the canvas pliers, staple as you did before. Repeat this with the other two edges.

Now staple from the middle to the side, remember to pull the canvas tight as you go. If you have any problems get a friend to help you out, an extra pair of hands is useful. Then do the same on the edge that is diagonally opposite. Continue until all edges are done.

When you get to the corners fold the edges of the canvas neatly and staple through the fold. Repeat for all the corners. Once done check how tight the canvas is, if it needs a little tightening use the corner keys to add the extra tension. If you find the tension isn't very good remove the staples and try again. Remember the side where the staples are wont be seen when the canvas is finished. And you can always use Framers Tape over the staples to give a professional finish when done.

Here is a very useful video tutorial on how to stretch large canvas by Corey D'Augustine.

Paul Worrall
Paul Worrall


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