TIME: A few hours
This instructable will show you how to build a simple padded canvas mounting board, so that you can paint on canvas, and yet not worry about how vigorously you want to attack the canvas with the brush. I am always paranoid about denting the canvas, especially along stretcher bar edges, and in the middle leaving saggy canvas. This project and its advanced part two will eliminate that fear, as well as providing a cheap method of doing extremely large paintings, which you can remount on permanent stretcher bars later. Here I used 4’x4’ size, but you can adjust for any size you want larger or smaller.
Saw, hammer, screwdriver, pen, tape measure, pot/bowl, blanket (or carpet) to work on
Project #1: Simple mount
4’x4’ sheet of wood (strandboard or plywood)
scrap piece of 1” thick wood for mounts
5’x5’ piece heavy vinyl (to smooth out the wood grain and screws)
5’x5’ piece of (preprimed) canvas
box of brass thumbtacks
roll of duct tape
Some wire or cord to mount
Project #2: Advanced Gallery mount style
(all of the above)
Two 8’ long 2x2” sticks of wood
Small box of screws (14 or so, about an inch long)
Most of the hardware materials I got at my local dollar store for a few bucks, the lumber should be $10-15 dollars at most. The vinyl I got cheap at a thriftstore, or you can rip it off an old couch or something, if you can’t find it cheap at a fabric store. I wanted to reuse the mount several times, so I went with pre-primed canvas instead of messing with priming (pre-primed is about $3-4 a foot so a little more expensive than DIY canvas unprimed). This also has the advantage that remounting it is probably less stressful on the finished painting, since it is not really stretched as much after it is painted.
1. I made a trip to the lumber yard, and picked out a perfectly 48” square piece of wood, so it would fit the eventual stretcher bars exactly, look at everything they have and try to get something perfectly cut, and warped as little a possible. If you have a pesky lumberyard salesmen, it helps to explain your project to him, and why you are examining every single piece of wood in the store. Strandboard is cheaper than plywood, but either will do. Make sure the corners are intact. I actually did the advanced version later, but you can pick up the two 2x2” pieces of lumber there too. Nothing fancy, mine were $2.19 each for 8’ lengths. These tend to warp at the store, so pull them out of the rack and put them on the floor and spin a pair of them back to back, making sure they are straight.
Since the canvas is large, I do all my painting outside in my carport, but any fence, wall or similar will work if you don't have a proper studio. My next mount will be a full 4x8' sheet of plywood for giant paintings. Just remember you need them to fit in vehicles.
Step 1: #1: Simple Flat Mount
I assembled my mount in my driveway in the carport. I put down a blanket on the pavement to work on so as not to scratch everything.
The mount will be hung on the wall with wire that slips into some down angled wood screwed to the wooden sheet. Take your scrap wood and make two pieces roughly the shape shown. I had a 1x12” piece of wood that I cut the end off of, and just snapped it to get the angle, a garden stake or any piece of wood will work. You could use plastic if need be, or some sort of knob or hook.
Duct tape, all the edges of the wood sheet so you don’t get splinters.
For the wire mount, I duct-taped the wood to the sheet about 5” in from the edges and about a 10” from the top. Make sure they are at the same heights at the bottom where the wire slips into them. I then used two screws from the good side of the sheet to affix them permanently. Make sure you screw them in flat hammer them if need be. I duct-taped the screw heads flat on the good side as well for smoothness.