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How to make a custom canvas.

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Lori Brackett

on 7 December 2013

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Transcript of How to make a custom canvas.

How to make a custom canvas.
Making a canvas.
If you would like to know how to stretch your own canvases because: you need a special size or you want to be more economical or you want to control the quality of the canvases you paint on, let me show the process of making a custom canvas.

I will demonstrate three major steps to stretching a custom canvas.
First, is the cutting of the stretcher bars.
Second, is the assembling process.
Third, the canvas is stretched and prepared with gesso.
Now, to the first step of making the canvas.
Cutting the stretcher bars
Remember "Safety First"; always wear safety goggles and practice care around machines.
Notice the shape of the stretcher bars and measure on the outside (the widest part).
Keep in mind that the overall size of the stretcher bars should be 3/16th of an inch smaller than the rabbet of the frame size (the inside measurement of the frame).
Cut the stretcher bars with a saw at a 45 degree angle.
Putting the Stretcher bars together
After the stretcher bars are cut, they will need to be put together.
First, separate the lengths so that the long ones are on one side of the work area and the short lengths are on the other. If this is not done, a mistake may be made by grabbing the wrong lengths to glue together.
Put glue on the ends and push them together to dry.
V-nail the corners from the back.
When both corners are glued and v-nailed, put them both together, to form a square.
Stretching and Preparing the Canvas
After the bars are cut, they are ready to be sanded down to get rid of the rough edges.
I use a disc sander to sand down my edges so they are all precise in their measurements.
Sanding gives me greater control in matching the lengths of the bars than just using the saw alone.
Before use, make sure the disc sander has been properly squared.
Sand one side of the four lengths, reset the guide and sand the other ends.
Once the stretcher frame is made, the canvas can be stretched.
Lay the stretcher frame on the canvas and cut enough material to go over the side and on to the back of the frame an inch or two.
Next, center the frame on the canvas. Make sure the weave of the canvas lines up with the edge of the frame.
Put in one staple at the center of the side.
Rotate frame to the opposite side and pull the canvas tight enough to create little ripples; staple at the center.
Then go to a third side and pull until half of the ripples are removed and staple at the middle.
Repeat for the last side.
Now, work from the middle of the frame to the outside edge, pulling the canvas and stapling as you go.
Put two staples on each side at a time to keep the stretching even.
This process is continued until the staples are an inch from the corner.
The gessoing of the canvas is the final step
Make sure the gesso is well stirred.
Paint the top and sides.
Let dry and repeat the process.
If a smoother surface is desired, sand with fine grit sandpaper and re-gesso.
Now the canvas is ready to become a masterpiece.
The stretching of the corners can be exacting.
Smooth the fabric over the side and on to the back of the frame while pushing the canvas around the corner.
Bring the other side up to create a tuck
Make the new fold line up with the corner.
Pull all folds of the canvas over the back side of the frame and staple.
Do the other three corners.
To finish the canvas, either staple the excess canvas to the back of the frame or use a razor blade and trim it off.
A word of caution at this point. If the canvas is trimmed, it will be harder to re-stretch if the need arises.
Lori Brackett
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