The thing to remember is that the making of the canvas is quite easy as compared to picking out the right stretcher bars. Stretcher bars are more than just wooden bars hammered together to form a frame. They require certain finesse and small adjustments in the wood so that the bars can form a smooth frame.
Before understanding how to use the frames, you need to know what bar types you should look for. There are many types of stretcher bars but if you are taking on a DIY project to create your own canvas then stretcher bars with lipped edges is the best one for you.
The lipped edge stretcher bars looks like a small triangle piece has been cut out of them, with a thin wood piece protruding from it. The reason for this is that the other stretcher bar has a thin hollow space in between, in which this lipped edge is inserted. This makes the canvas easy to construct. Hence, assembling a canvas with lipped stretcher bars is the easiest process.
Once the stretcher bars are tightly locked together now is the time to roll out your canvas sheet. Place the canvas sheet on a clear surface and put your canvas on it. Cut the sheet a size larger than your canvas frame.
For the next process, a staple gun and pliers are required. Start folding the canvas sheet’s edge from one corner, length wise and staple it. Once you are done with one side, proceed to the second. Here’s when it gets tricky. Fold the canvas sheet and then stretch it with the pliers to get a tight grip. When you feel its tight enough, staple away.
Now remains the corners, which also requires finesse because they represent the outside beauty of your canvas. Stretch the sheet from the corners and pinch both side forming a triangle. Overlap the sheet one over the other and staple at least three times. This depends on the thickness of your canvas sheet, the more thick it is, the more staples it requires and vice versa.
Now it is time to turn the canvas over and check if it is tight enough. Tap your finger in the middle of the canvas and if it does not bend then your canvas is perfect.
To ready your canvas, apply a light coat of gesso. Gesso is a thin acrylic white paint which makes the canvas sheet surface hard.
There you go, this is how stretcher bars are used for making a canvas. So, next time instead of wasting money by getting one custom made, make it at your home.