Saturday, April 23, 2011

Squaring up stretchers

I was talking about stretchers the other night. I think I will continue in that vein by talking about squaring them up prior to stretching. There are several different ways of doing that. It is important that your stretchers be square. If they are not your pictures will not fir your frames, and That's a nuisance.

The standard method, I suppose, is to assemble them and using a tape measure, manipulate them until the dimensions between the opposite corners is equal. Once you have those two distances equal, Staple, screw, nail or ignore the corners together. If you fix then together (which I routinely do) you will be unable to use stretcher keys. Those are the triangular pieces of wood or plastic that are affixed to the back of a canvas when you buy it prestretched. I never use them because they knock the canvas out of square. If a canvas gets loose on the stretchers I pull out the staples on two sides and pull it taut again. Again if you knock the canvas out of square it won't fit the frame.

The easier way to square a canvas is with a drywall square. Here is one of those below.

They are made fore people hanging drywall, or sheetrock. They are about four feet long and you can rapidly push the stretchers into square using one. This in what I usually use.

Sometimes when you are traveling, you may not have either one. Find a steel doorframe, or window, or some other feature of a building that is liable to be square, assemble your stretchers and push them up against the inside dimension. Then turn the stretchers the other way and do that again. Usually you can get close enough to square that way.


Brady said...

Those are some good ideas. It almost makes me want to start painting on canvas. (I'm a panel man for the most part.)

I tried out your cobalt violet lay in and I like it a lot. I even managed to get outside today and paint!

I wrote a bit about it on my blog, (which you inspired me to start) but I'm not as diligent, and I don't have anywhere near your experience or skill.

Bob Carter said...

Good tip on the drywall square. I use that to cut the linen off those unwieldy 8' rolls, but I hadn't thought of using it to square the stretchers. I usually use a small triangular carpenter's square. I'm thinking the drywall square will give better precision. Thanks.
I'm interested in your experience with the Centurion linen. I usually use Claessens 15DP. How's the tooth of your stuff compare to that?

billspaintingmn said...

Stape! When you get to the corners,
do you have a way to fold them neatly?
On the thicker bars, some want the staples on the back, and the sides get painted black/drk.gray. No frame and looks great!

Deb said...

do you use a staple gun to affix the canvas to the stretchers?

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks, good luck with that blog.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Stick with the Claussens except for it's price, it is better.

Stapleton Kearns said...

My galleries would not let that in the door.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Yes I do.

sarahsbooks said...

Long ago a teacher of mine showed our class how she assembled her stretchers and this is what I still do: put the stretchers together, then use an upper corner of a windowframe or doorframe (after measuring it to make sure it is square itself), by holding your stretchers up to the corner and tapping them into square, and then keep turning and tapping the stretchers until they are all evenly squared off. Check with a triangle and measuring tape after, then staple the stretchers together on the back.

Love your blog. So much art-full awesomeness, in so many posts. Thank you.