How to Stretch Artist Canvas

How to Stretch Artist Canvas

Stretching canvas is a traditional technique used by artists to prepare a surface for painting. Here's how you can hand-stretch an artist canvas:


  • Canvas
  • Stretcher bars (wooden frames)
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Canvas pliers
  • Scissors


  1. Measure and cut the canvas: Measure the canvas to fit the stretcher bars, leaving at least 2-3 inches of excess on each side. Cut the canvas using scissors.

  2. Assemble the stretcher bars: Assemble the stretcher bars to create a frame that is slightly larger than the canvas.

  3. Attach the canvas: Place the canvas on a clean flat surface with the wrong side facing up. Place the stretcher frame on top of the canvas, centered.

  4. Begin stapling: Using a staple gun, start at the center of one side of the frame and staple the canvas to the stretcher bar. Repeat on the opposite side of the frame, pulling the canvas taut as you go.

  5. Continue stapling: Work your way from the center towards the corners, alternating sides and making sure the canvas remains stretched taut.

  6. Fold and staple the corners: Once you reach the corners, fold the excess canvas over the stretcher bars and staple it down, creating a neat fold.

  7. Trim the excess canvas: Trim the excess canvas, leaving a small border around the edges.

  8. Optional: Apply gesso: Apply a layer of gesso to the canvas to prime it for painting.

Congratulations! You have successfully hand-stretched your artist canvas.

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