How to Frame a Stretched Canvas Artwork

How to Frame a Stretched Canvas Artwork

Just pick up the timber moulding from a hardware store and follow the steps to make a mitred frame for a totally professional result on any size canvas, says our DIY specialist, Natasha Dickins from Little Red Industries. Check out the video here

I used a printed canvas already mounted on a backing frame, but if you’re starting an artwork from scratch, pick up a blank deep-edge stretched one from Officeworks. Try this 37mm-deep one in a similar size to mine. 

TIP The ‘Ramen’ artwork is by enricadenicola from Redbubble and it came with attached picture wire.


STEP 1 – Materials

I picked up everything needed to build the frame from Bunnings, including a 1200mm length of Porta Timber 45mm x 30mm Tasmanian oak picture framing moulding. I checked it was deep enough for the artwork to sit inside so the edges are flush with the front of the canvas. 

TIP The moulding comes in various sizes and profiles. Take your artwork into the store to find one that fits.

STEP 2 – Measuring

Using a combination square, I measured around the outside of the canvas, adding 4mm to the sides and ends to allow for any bulky folds at the corners while creating a shadow line inside the frame.

TIP When working out how much moulding to buy, measure around the outside of the canvas and add about 10% extra to allow for mitres and offcuts. Standard lengths are 1200mm and 2400mm.

STEP 3 – Cutting

I set my sliding compound mitre saw at 45° to the left and trimmed the end off the moulding, then transferred the canvas measurement from the inside of the mitre, measuring along the inside edge of the frame, not the back. My canvas is 300mm long, so adding 4mm means the side piece is 340mm inside the mitres.

TIP Always start with a long piece so if you make a mistake it can be cut down for a shorter piece to minimise wastage. 

STEP 4 – Check length

I flipped the mitre saw 45° to the right to make the next cut, then checked the length before cutting the other side piece to be exactly the same. 

TIP Always position the blade on the outside of the mark rather than centred over it to allow for the thickness of the blade (called the kerf, which is about 3mm) to slice into the offcut rather than the piece you’ve measured out. 

STEP 5 – Prepare pieces

After cutting the end pieces to fit, I double-checked they are exactly the same by placing them back-to-back, then dry-fit the frame around the canvas, sanding off any breakout from the cuts with 180-grit abrasive paper.

STEP 6 – Glue

I applied Bondall Bondcrete woodworking adhesive over the end-grain of the mitres and assembled the frame using painter’s tape to hold the joints together.

TIP Bondcrete dries clear, but have a clean damp cloth handy to wipe away excess adhesive as it squishes out to avoid having to sand it off later.

STEP 7 – Tape

Then I stretched painter’s tape around the frame, pulling it tight to keep the joints secure and left it to dry flat for a couple of hours.

STEP 8 – V nails

To reinforce the joints, at the back of the frame, I tapped in V-nails using a magnetic V-nail punch tool with a rubber mallet. 

TIP I bought the nails and punch from a framing supplier. Try or similar to purchase online. If you can’t find a magnetic punch, tap the V-nails in directly using a small hammer.

STEP 9 – Varnish

After removing the tape, I sanded all over with 180-grit abrasive paper and wiped away the dust with a damp cloth. 

To seal the frame, I applied two coats of Monocel Waterbased Clear Wood Varnish for a lovely matt, satin finish that dries quickly without changing the tone of the timber. 

TIP Be sure to stir the varnish first, and use a small brush that fits into the tin.

STEP 10 – Countersink

Working from the back of the frame, I used an 8G countersinking bit to pre-drill holes through the sides and ends, finishing the holes with a longer 3mm bit.

TIP Countersinking the screws ensures the frame sits flat against the wall. My bit has a depth-stop collar but, if you’re starting out, pick up a set of combined pilot drill and countersinking bits for about $23. Match the bit to the screws you’ll be using. For this project, use the 8G bit for 8G x 30mm screws.

STEP 11 – Screw

I placed the canvas in the frame with an even shadow line all around, then flipped it to secure 30mm screws through the frame and into the stretcher bars. 

TIP Check your screws are not so long they will puncture the canvas. Work on a clean, dust-free surface to avoid damaging the artwork.

STEP 12 – Finished

If your canvas isn’t ready to hang, pick up a DIY kit for a few dollars to install D-rings and wire with the supplied screws.





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