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my instinct is to do it all myself. Mill the stretchers, join them and stretch my own canvas. The down side, of course, is that it takes away from painting time. I am thinking that it would be a nice counterpoint to the intensity of painting, using the other side of the brain for a while in between paint sessions. First, do any if you work this way? Second, is there any real advantage to stretching my own canvas?


  • Freeman

    Give me a break! There are enough counterpoints before you even get to painting, like; prepping canvas, building and tuning a studio, lighting, ventilation, supplies, equipment, mixing paint, arranging still life, finding images, photography, software skills, computer skills, drawing skills, paint mediums, paint mixing.

    Go ahead mill the stretchers. I’m sure you could do it.


  • I can see your point. Do you stretch your own canvass?
  • Well it's going to be a while before I'm ready to frame anything, so I have time. I think I will buy some canvas and stretchers and start with that. The craft definitely appeals to me.
  • For big paintings I stretch my own.  Not just because you can't get really big pre-stretched canvas here but also because it gives you the control over the dimensions - your not restricted to standard formats. I buy the stretcher bars. They come in a huge range of sizes so no restrictions there. I'd make my own but don't have the skills, tools or time to learn how to do it well. However, I guess it would be satisfying to look at a picture one has painted and know that every part of it, apart from weaving the canvas, is completely one's own work.  There is an element of craft to painting that I like. :)
  • What? @tassieguy, with all those sheep running loose you don't weave your own canvas from wool shearings? I'm Shocked!

  • Maybe I should grow flax. :)
  • Their is intrinsic value in stretching your own.  When you have a finished painting you can look at it and say I created it all.
  • SummerSummer -
    edited January 1
    I tend to agree with @dencal
  • My art store will close and move 30 miles away this month.  I purchased two stretchers, one in each size, 3/4 and 1.5 inch, to use as templates for creation of my own.  I have determined that I can make the expanding bridal joint with 4 cuts on the table saw at each end, two along each side, and one or two passes on a small home router table.  I will show you how when I get time to do it.  I am not driving 30 miles each way and it will save a ton of money.  I stretch all my own linen/canvas because the cost is lower and the quality is high.
  • That will be helpful, thanks @MikeDerby
  • I strongly caution anyone who wants to make their own stretchers to spend the time necessary to learn how to safely do the millwork and joinery. Learn how to make the jigs to help hold and feed the stock and save your fingers and hands. Mike has the equipment and experience for this. Novices who accomplish making their own will want to point to their work and say "I did it all by myself" just make sure you still have a finger to point with!
  • I do have the skills and most of the tools. Would need to make the jigs. Your point is well taken, though. I don't want to be known as the guy who learned to paint with only three fingers! 
  • edited January 3
    Interesting point of view. I would argue that many professional artists insist on stretching their own canvas for the many reasons listed above. My desire to milll and assemble my own stretchers is a result of my own life long love for woodworking. I see and appreciate the craft of building up the panel the way I want it, and then commencing the composition, drawing and painting. What one gets from this whole process is rather individual it seems to me. And I am not as professional painter. Perhaps when I am the business case for purchasing production canvases will make more sense. I am a bit surprised art the vitriol this thread has generated.
  • Lots of professional artists stretch their own canvas. 
    @freeman, do whatever turns you on.

    Heres a professional artist doing just that, and it’s beautiful.
    [Deleted User]
  • That guy makes it look easy. Wonder why he doesn't use thicker canvas. 
    I think he likes really flat neat corners.....hence the iron!
  • I may not be quite that particular. Beautiful work. I love his paint too.
  • Beautiful work. I am inspired.
  • I should also add that the canvas on those is primed cotton (some old leftover stuff that my parents had).
  • Wow! Great work, @JC_Pitre. I wish I had the skills, tools and time to make stretchers. 
  • JC_Pitre

    Competent craftsmanship at work here. Well done.


  • I like the somewhat thicker depth. Does this preclude traditional framing?
  • So what brand and depth of stretcher bars do you all like? I find I have to buy a large quantity of them so I want to make an informed choice.
  • If you stick to standard depths, @Freeman. Frames come in a variety of depths. If you can make stretchers, you can make your own custom frames, right? 
  • @Freeman As far as I know, any painting can be framed, even if the canvas support is extra deep. I know some very large gallery frames can be as deep as almost a foot (yes, 12" deep) but those tend to be giant paintings (like 12 feet wide, etc). As @BOB73said, custom frames can be built, and these canvases can also be "floated" in shadowbox type frames (essentially an open tray). All depends. I didn't think that far ahead, to be honest. The canvas frames are solid pine, so a frame can be mounted to them with all sorts of different clips, braces, etc. And protective paper can go on the back.
  • I have chosen to go with the BEST brand medium duty stretcher bars, which have a profile of about an inch I think.
  • @martenvisser
    that is an impressive size. I hope you show us the painting 
  • No big paintings for this newbie @MikeDerby. I just like the more robust frame. Who am I kidding, I don't know what I like yet. I had to make a choice so you went for the more robust bars. I did not buy any longer than 24 inches. I did get a good deal on canvas though (I think). I got a 54 inch by 8 yard roll of 13# oil primed linen for 160 bucks on Jerrys. 
  • edited January 9
    @Flatty agree 100% 
    @Keith  Mark Carder the man whom you watched on YouTube and whose forum you happened to grace stretches his own canvas... the very same man Who was commissioned by the President of the United States of America to paint his portrait... he is most definitely not an amateur.
  • I just took delivery of my roll of 13# centurion oil primed linen. Very excited for the stretchers now, despite all the controversy.
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