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As with all artists techniques that feature in our How to guide - Our guide to making a wooden stretcher shows how we prefer to make the stretcher that serves to stretch a canvas - We prefer our canvasses not to have corner wedges - as we have never found it necessary to use them.

We like the look of a deep pan canvas so that you have a good shadow cast by the finished painting.

A deep and solid stretcher gives the finished painting a sense of monument and presence.

The Tools that we use are also just for guidance you can use more basic tools - making everything by hand if you wish rather than using power tools

Make a Wooden Stretcher

tools laid out Building the jig The Jig
1. A choice of tools 2. Building the Jig 3. The Jig
Cutting the timber Tools for mitre cuts A mitre cut
4. Cutting timber 30 degrees 5. Tools for mitre cuts (a) 6. A mitre cut
tools for a mitre cut fix stretcher corners the finished stretcher
7. Tools for mitre cuts (b) 8. Using the Jig to fix mitres 9. The sturdy stretcher!

How to Make and Do

This stretcher is 14 inches by 20 inches. All work should be carried out on a level and stable surface. All health & safety measures must be observed. See Government Health and Safety Site

Image 1 - Tool list

  • Circular Saw, Cordless drill & charger, extension lead, mitre block, 45 degree square, clamp, sandpaper (rough) 2 corner clamps, drill bit, countersinker, 1 & 1/4 inch posi-drive/Phillips screws and bit, wood glue, metal ruler, tape measure, pencil, fine toothed saw and craft knife.
Image 2 & 3 - The Jig
  • You will need at least 2 metres/5ft of 2 x 1 inch timber lengths, a ply-board base 18 x 14 inches, screws. A jig will hold the other side of the stretcher in place while you work. Making a jig saves you time... Build one! Ensure that the bed of your jig allows your hands enough room to work freely - See Image 8 (Using the Jig).
Image 4 - Cutting Timber
  • We use a circular saw to rip down the timber for a stretcher. Set the blade angle to produce a 30 degree cut, set blade to be just proud of the depth of the timber. Set guide to the desired timber width ( 2 - 3 inches). Screw lengths to be cut to your stable wooden surface. Make sure that these screws Will Not interfere with the cutting line.
Image 5, 6 & 7 - Mitre Cuts
  • Use a chop saw for opposing mitres - or a pre-cut mitre block is just as accurate. Use the off cuts to make corner braces or cut 4 identical opposing mitres, no longer than 5 inches x 1 inch - see image 9.
Image 8 - Joining
  • The jig will hold you painting stretcher accurately while you work on each corner. Try to work on two opposing corners at the same time. Tighten both pre-glued mitres together - using corner clamps. When tight, drill through the join and screw together. Set both corner braces in place, drill a guide hole, remove then glue and screw. Repeat for the other two corners (always using the jig).
  • If you do not have, or if you lack the confidence to use a circular saw - ignore instruction 4 and attach rebated beading to precut timber lengths.... Always be safe.