Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Handmade Stretcher Bars

I mentioned in my previous post that my husband made me a stretcher bars the canvas frame I will need to paint my current work in progress. He more or less followed the instructions from the Empty Easel website on making your own stretcher bars. Today he made me another frame using his own modifications so here are the details!
©2012 R.L. Delight, handmade stretcher bar frame for canvas.
©2012 R.L. Delight, handmade stretcher bar frame for canvas, corner detail
I will start with the large frame first. The outside dimensions are 22"x40" to match my drawing, which will be the actual size of the finished piece. Bob, my mate, bought a kiln dried 2"x6" piece of fir lumber. He ripped that down on his table saw to the final dimensions of the stretcher bar wood. The actual dimensions of the bars are 3/4"x 1-3/4". He also manufactured the quarter-round strip of wood that you can see along the edge of the stretcher frame. He followed the instructions for mitering and stapling the corners. They are very sturdy but, as you can see, not precisely flush at the joint. I also asked him to add reinforcing bars to the frame as it is long and somewhat large. I will be stretching the linen on the frame tomorrow and then size the canvas and prime it with gesso.
The frame he made today is smaller, 20"x16". He used a different joining method that we both like a lot better. Here are the details:
©2012, R.L. Delight, Handmade stretcher bars for canvas.
©2012, R.L. Delight, Handmade stretcher bars for canvas, corner detail.
©2012, R.L. Delight, Handmade stretcher bars for canvas, corner detail.
Bob used the same wood stock that he ripped on the table saw but made the joint a modified lapped join. He glued the join and then shot three long finished nails through the end with a nail gun (bottom photo). The frame looks much neater and feels nice and sturdy.
The bonus? The total cost of the large frame (not including labor) was $1.75 (U.S.)! The canvas will be a bit heavier than the ones I purchased ready made but the materials are better and they feel more solid.
The drawing is slowly proceeding and the canvas stretching and priming will be started tomorrow. The weather for the weekend is supposed to be nice around here. I have my prop that I want to paint outdoors with ready to go so hopefully will be able to get out and do that this week. Today I found an old wooden silverware box at a thrift store for $2.00. I plan to make it into a pochade box for a simple and light plein air painting set up. I will be posting about that little build when it is done, soon.
I would love to hear from other painters who make their own materials and tools. Please feel free to brag a little in the comments and post a link to your blog or Facebook album.
Happy creating!

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