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Use A Stretcher Framer To Stretch Your Canvas – by Susan Slobac

If you are an oil painter or do embroidery needlework, then you know that you have to stretch your canvas before you can frame it, in order to completely smooth and tighten the canvas surface. The way to do this is through the use of a stretcher framer or a stretcher that uses strainer bar. With these proper components, you can achieve a nice, taut canvas tension while protecting the surface of the canvas.

stretcher strips are made out of wood known as strainer stock, and they provide a structure upon which the canvas is laid and then stretched and attached. The canvas is typically attached to the stretcher strips with tacks or a staple gun, to hold the canvas securely in place.

A stretcher framer looks very much like a picture frame in that it is rectangular in shape. The corners of this framework can be put together in various ways. They might consist of a miter joint, or a butt joint, or interlocking corners. The corner joints allow for some necessary movement in the canvas, and thus the corner joints are, with stretchers, typically not attached. Like wooden frames, which swell and compress depending on the amount of moisture to which they are exposed, so too do stretcher strips need to be able to expand and contract a bit so that the surface of the canvas is not damaged, and that the canvas can be restretched at a later date if desired. Tightening often occurs with stretchers by using a special tool called a tightening key, which is used in a special area of the corner to tighten the canvas. Some of the framers utilize triangular-shaped wedges which, after the canvas has been stretched over the frame, are inserted to give the final bit of tightening to the canvas surface.

Another method used to stretch a canvas prior to mounting in a frame is to use a strainer bar. The strainer bar is constructed in a fixed way, so that adjustments cannot be made. The strainer is attached to another strainer with staples, nails and wood glue. A stretcher made from strainer bar may also utilize corner braces made out of wood. You will not use a tightening key with a stretcher made from a strainer bar for each side.

It pays to ensure that the strainer stock used for making stretcher bars is up to the task. High-quality strainer stock should not rot. Good strainer stock should also have some natural ability to resist warping, exposure to all of which could damage the canvas placed upon it. Keeping these ideas in mind will help to protect your canvas through the stretching step of framing.

About the Author
Susan Slobac is an avid photographer.Susan believes a picture frame is more than just fashion; it’s a safeguard for something you love. In this article Susan talks about stretcher framer.

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