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Stretching a canvas can be daunting at first, but it's a lot easier than it seems!
Our DIY stretcher bars are specifically designed to stretch canvas without the need for any tools! The 4x stretcher bars are pre-cut, and the notches are built so that the wood pieces slip perfectly into one another. The wood is made of soft fibers that don't require nails or staples. Simply slip a thumbtack through the canvas and into the wood, while pulling each side taught! Before you know it, you'll have a perfectly stretched canvas!
Follow the steps below to see exactly how these are done:
Step 1: Lay out your frame and thumb tacks on a flat surface. Put the thumb tacks over to the side until the DIY frame is assembled.
Step 2: Connect the first two frames by sliding the corner of a longer and shorter piece into one another. Each piece of wood from our frames come with pre-cut grooves so no tools are necessary. It's okay if the pieces are not perfectly perpendicular at this point. Once the 4th piece is added the frame will come together.
Step 3: Connect the other short piece so you have 3 parts of the frame together. Once this is ready, add the final piece of the wooden frame so that you complete the rectangle. Once everything is securely in, you should be able to straighten out the frame so each of the bars forms a 90 degree angle.
Step 1: Lay out your assembled frame and canvas onto a flat surface. Put the now assembled frame, paints, brushes, and anything else included in your kit over to the side.
Step 2: Unroll the canvas. Canvases may sometimes have wrinkles. You can get them out with an iron on high with a very small bit of steam. Make sure you iron face down to prevent any of the lines and numbers from smudging! For tips and tricks on the best way to iron your canvas, check out our how-to here.
Step 3: Once your canvas has all the wrinkles out, lay it face down on your flat surface. Line up your frame with the border of the underlying kit. This is best done under bright light so you can see the outline through the canvas. The flat side of the frame should touch the canvas and the beveled side should be facing you! The rounded edges are very important for canvas. The roundness increases the surface area of the wood, which lowers the friction the frame has with the canvas. By reducing the friction, it will allow you to more easily pull the canvas over the frame, and ultimately make it more taught. The rounded edges will also prevent the canvas from splitting or cracking.
Step 4: Pull back the first long side of the canvas and thumb tack it to your frame. Try to make sure that the underlying border is lined up and that the canvas runs straight along your frame. Only put the thumb tack in half way so that you can easily pull it out with a pair of scissors or back of a hammer if anything is too far off!
Step 5: Continue to make sure that your frame is straight and perpendicular to with you canvas. The underlying image can still be adjusted to be aligned with the frame. Put the second thumbtack into the other long side of the frame.
After each thumb tack, flip the canvas over to make sure everything is aligned. If something looks off, you can always pull slightly harder on one side before you put the thumb tack in to adjust. If it's off by too much, you can pull out the thumb tack and try again!
Step 6: Make sure to pull tight to make the underlying lines align with the frame as you go along. Double check by flipping back and forth to see how it's going. Once you feel comfortable, go ahead and put thumb tacks into the two shorter frames
Step 7: Finally, fold over your corners and push a thumb tack through. Remember to only go halfway with the thumb tacks so you can easily pull them out with the back of a hammer or a pair of scissors!
*PRO TIP - You can also cut the edges so they hold better, however, we usually recommend just folding them so you don't accidentally ruin your kit!
Step 8: Flip your kit over to make sure it is aligned how you like. Pull the canvas taught to align it even better, and add the final thumb tacks. Once you're satisfied, push the thumb tacks in the rest of the way!
Step 9: Paint! :)
If you need a set of stretcher bars for your kit, you can purchase them in our standard sizes at the link below: