How to build a frame and stretch canvas

As luck would have it, or maybe it was karma, my canvas showed up yesterday – right after I posted the blog! So, of course I had to whip up a frame to mount it on. Then, I had to write another blog to build up some more blogging karma…come on lucky lotto numbers 😉

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Mike can center it/hang it up when he gets home. Read on to find out how to do it yourself.

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This is what it looks like when you get it in the mail. I ordered ours from www.stickersbanners.com. It’s not real canvas, it’s polyester and was 1/3 the cost of canvas. Once it’s on the wall you can’t really tell.

Now, just a side note on the site I ordered from: they do not send you any sort of confirmation that they even received your file. The only thing I got was a charge on my credit card. No order confirmation email, no pending print, no printed and pending shipment, no shipment, no tracking, nothing. Just a charge on my credit card and a print at my doorstep a few days later. Not what I am used to, but again, it’s their lack of customer service that helps them keep their prices so low. I will happily buy from them again and again. I don’t need to pay to have my hand held.

Another thing about polyester: It’s thinner than canvas, so if you want a more opaque print you can add something to the backside of your print after you get it with some spray adhesive. I didn’t. I sleep just fine at night.

Now for the reason you’re still reading:

I built my frame out of 2×2’s. You can use whatever you want, usually I would use 1×2’s but this is what I had lying around. The important thing is that the wood you use is straight.

I measured my print – even though I had specified a specific print size nothing is ever perfect. My print was 48″ x 71.5″ (a half inch shorter than what I had spec’d). I made my frame six inches shorter than the print dimension so that I had extra print to wrap around the edges of the frame. If you use wood that is not 1.5″ wide for your frame then the amount you expect to wrap around can be less. For example, if I had made a frame out of 1×1’s then I would have made my frame 3″ shorter in both dimensions. Anyhow….I like for the shorter pieces to sit in between the longer pieces – attached with a butt joint. My cuts were as follows:
71.5″ – 6″ = 65.5″ for the long pieces
48″ – 6″ (for the wrap) – 3″ (to account for the butt joint) = 39″ for the short pieces
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I then made pocket holes in my short pieces with my kreg jig:21315_canvas14
I used 2.5″ screws and attached them to the frame. If I had used 1×2’s I would have just nailed them together. If you don’t have a pocket jig – like the kreg jig you can pre-drill then counter sink your screws. It’s just harder. Easiest would be to make the frame out of 1×2’s and use a finish nail gun.
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I also cut 2 pieces of cross bracing out of some leftover frame material and nailed them in with a finish nailer. These were both cut to the same size – the size of them doesn’t matter, the degree is 45 on each end and it’s just to keep the frame square.

Next I moved the frame inside and laid it out on the print. The print (for obvious reasons) needs to be right side down.

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Once square, I began stapling the print to the frame. When stapling, work from the center of the side you are working on outward. Make sure you stop stapling about 6″ from the corner of your frame to leave enough wiggle room to make your corners.

Always pull the print taught around the frame. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of staples – no one will ever see how many you used. I work from the bottom of the frame – to the top of frame – to one side and then to the last side. You want to work from one side then to the opposite side. Don’t work in a clockwise motion around the frame because it’s harder to get a nice, tight edge that way.
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See, crazy amounts of staples. The staples I used were 3/8″. 1/4″ would have been fine.

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When you’re done stapling all the sides you’ll have something that looks like the above pic with wonky corners. The corners are a little tricky, so I took a lot of pics. I always position my corners so that the wrap creases on the bottom and tops of the frame, not on the sides. I don’t know if that’s right or wrong, but it’s how I like it.

So, to start, pull the corner of the print so that it lays flat against the frame like this:
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Then, pinch the bottom of the print towards your index finger to create a small triangle:21315_canvas8

Fold that triangle up:
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Then, pinch the leftover bottom print and fold it up, squaring it on the edge of the frame like the next two pics:
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Staple that fancy corner down. Repeat to the other three corners.
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That’s it. Lean it against a wall and admire your home made art. Just like me.
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