I am hoping at some point to get to making a short video demonstrating how I stretch a canvas but for the moment here is a step by step guide. There are various methods artists use but this is the way that I stretch mine. Some artists do not use canvas pliers, maintaining that one can easily over-stretch the fabric and cause ripples in the weave. Personally, I find it very hard on my hands to do it without. The pliers that I like are made by Holbein. They are much more expensive but by the time I had broken three of the cheaper Fredrix ones, I decided to invest in the Holbein pair and they are still going strong.


Make either a braced (fixed) or stretcher bar frame, ensuring the corners are 90º square. On larger stretchers you can attach metal angles with screws to the corners of stretcher bars to keep it from moving out of square and remove them when you are close to finishing the stretching.

Make sure the elevated shoulders of the stretcher bars or quarter rounds of the brace are facing the back of the canvas. Cut the canvas piece with enough extra allowed to cover the sides and back of the stretcher halfway. This is important as it will facilitate the possibility of later re-lining of the canvas in the future. Well, you never know!

Grip the canvas with canvas pliers, tighten and staple first in the centres of each side (1-4) and move towards the corners on opposing sides making sure that the weave is not pulled so tight that it causes a ripple in the fabric but tight enough to keep the canvas taut as you move outwards. Finish the corners by folding over like wrapping a gift with paper.

After finishing the above I like to extra tighten by pulling the canvas in between the staples and stapling again in the opposite direction - vertical as opposed to horizontal. If you are using stretcher bars rather thans a braced frame you can tap in lightly the wooden keys that are supplied with the stretcher bars for later use into the slits inside the corners .

Return to Bulletin Page


Artwork images and Web pages from this site are copyright of Geoffrey Laurence and may not be duplicated or redistributed
in any form without written permission. If you would like to use images from this site, please contact the artist for permission.