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Thread: Canvas Print Mounting DIY

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    Stagecoach's Avatar
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    Canvas Print Mounting DIY

    I am attempting to produce some canvas prints for hanging with a width of around 32" (800 mm) and am finding that the cost of having them mounted on a frame is almost the same as getting the print work done which questions the viability of my project.

    Here in Fiji to date I have only found one printer that can print on canvas at the sizes I require and was quoted today $170 for printing 36" width and $140 for producing the wooden frame for mounting and stretching the canvas around No, the frame was not a fancy stretcher bar type and the cost increased by $20 for an extra centre support !

    The position I'm now in is that I am considering making the frame myself and doing the stretching and stapling. I have watched a number of You Tube videos from good to bad and understand the basics of having the front edge bevelled, edges rounded slightly, good joints and am a pretty good carpenter.

    My question is, has anyone actually hand stretched a canvas print around 36" width themselves over a 'fixed' frame with good results and if so any tips ?

    I have a number of canvas paintings, generally imported, wrapped on frames of very basic nail construction that have been hanging for years and are fine.

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    Re: Canvas Print Mounting DIY

    Quote Originally Posted by Stagecoach View Post
    I am attempting to produce some canvas prints for hanging with a width of around 32" (800 mm) and am finding that the cost of having them mounted on a frame is almost the same as getting the print work done which questions the viability of my project.

    Here in Fiji to date I have only found one printer that can print on canvas at the sizes I require and was quoted today $170 for printing 36" width and $140 for producing the wooden frame for mounting and stretching the canvas around No, the frame was not a fancy stretcher bar type and the cost increased by $20 for an extra centre support !

    The position I'm now in is that I am considering making the frame myself and doing the stretching and stapling. I have watched a number of You Tube videos from good to bad and understand the basics of having the front edge bevelled, edges rounded slightly, good joints and am a pretty good carpenter.

    My question is, has anyone actually hand stretched a canvas print around 36" width themselves over a 'fixed' frame with good results and if so any tips ?

    I have a number of canvas paintings, generally imported, wrapped on frames of very basic nail construction that have been hanging for years and are fine.


    I've never done it, but if it were me, I woiuld make a clamp so I could stretch the canvas evenly, and then trim after stapling. Why not buy a canvas drop cloth and practice on a few. An 8" x 8' drop cloth isn't very much.

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    Re: Canvas Print Mounting DIY

    Quote Originally Posted by Stagecoach View Post
    My question is, has anyone actually hand stretched a canvas print around 36" width themselves over a 'fixed' frame with good results
    Yep - hundreds of them

    A quick rundown ...

    - I start with 20mm x 45mm pine baton wood - cavity baton is cheapest, but it needs to be straight.

    - I then run it through a jig that forces it through a thicknesser at an angle so that it ends up being beveled 14mm on the thin edge and 19mm on the thick edge. The bevel is important because without it, the inside of the frame will eventually leave a mark on the canvas.

    - I then use a drop saw with a 45 deg mitre to cut the frame to length (frame size is 44mm less than the image size, in both dimensions)

    - I then use another jig to mark two holes which I drill and countersink, and then screw & glue the frame together.

    - Next up I use a hand-held router to put a 3mm bevel on the outside and inside of the frame. It's a full 3mm on the front side, and lighter pressure on the back - these are needed to stop the canvas and paint cracking.

    - To mount it, I put a soft/clean town down on the workbench - canvas on top (face down) - then the frame on top of that. You need to be really careful to position the frame correctly (also allowing a little for stretch).

    I usually start with the canvas on the short edge, in the middle - work my way to the ends while pulling, then start working the other short edge - keeping both tension on the length of canvas, and then laterally as I insert staples pneumatically.

    Much the same for the long sides.

    Corners are a real B*stard until you get used to them. The other "gotcha" is you need to have the canvas over-sprayed with liquid laminate or it'll most likely crack where you fold it back on itself at the corners and make for a low-quality looking product.

    I'd be concerned too about the quality of the printing; it's one thing for someone to have a printer capable of printing on canvas, but another thing altogether to have someone experienced in printing it and applying the liquid laminate (and if they try to say "It doesn't need over-spraying because ..." then run a mile).

    Hope this helps. For what it's worth, there's a lot of gear required to do it properly (thicknesser, drop saw, HPLV sprayer, compressor, stapler, drill, liquid laminate, sanders) - and when you start, you'll be thinking "OMG I wish I'd never started". I'd fully expect to ruin quite a few prints until you get the hang of it. After the first hundred or so you can start doing them with your eyes closed.

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    Re: Canvas Print Mounting DIY

    I once visited a small art/photo gallery and the owner was sitting in a backroom unstapling canvas from their frames. He had purchased about 50x blank framed canvass from a wholesale stationery shop as he found it cheaper to use those frames than make his own. As the canvas was very light and low quality he just dumped it.

    Having watched a couple of times I do not think the stretching and stapling the canvas to a frame is particularly difficult.

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    Re: Canvas Print Mounting DIY

    Steve,

    I have seen the clamps that can be used for helping even out the stretching but not much chance of finding them here. There's a chance that I can get a piece of the canvas material from the printer I originally discussed my project with but I'm sure they will charge top $.

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    Re: Canvas Print Mounting DIY

    Hi Colin,

    I was hoping you would reply

    Thank you for the information it's much appreciated, I'll enquire about the canvas being over sprayed.

    Unfortunately 'running a mile' is not really an option as there simply are not the alternatives that you would find elsewhere. It's also been suggested to do this if the printer states that they want your file formatted at 300 DPI, the first I approached insisted on this.

    An interesting development happened today in that I met with another printer that had advised me by phone that they could do it only to find that what they called canvas was actually vinyl. This printer specialised in high resolution printing of commercial advertising banners and posters, one of their clients was our 'top quality' shop here and I regularly view some of this work and have been impressed at the print quality.

    Fortunately the lady that I dealt with was also an interior designer and although not being conversant with 'canvas' gallery wrapped photo wall hangings process was very interested in the concept of being able to produce individual photographic artworks on this medium. As a demonstration of their printing quality she is going to give me a 500 x 500 mm print of any file I give her.

    It must be great living somewhere like NZ, Aus and UK where you simply send you file to a supplier having read their instructions on the web and a week later the postman delivers your canvas print at a price you are very pleased with

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    Re: Canvas Print Mounting DIY

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for this excellent snip.

    We have a stock everything bargain store outlet here that sells blank canvas mounted on frames of varying sizes used for oil/acrylic art and from what I remembered these were extremely good value. I then remembered that the other half often uses these for dabbling in art which seems to consist of spraying them (and my lawn) and sticking 'things' on them and there were a few in her cupboard.

    The stretcher frames are machine profiled correctly, mitre corners with mortice and tenon and I will be at the shop tomorrow to investigate size and prices.

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    Re: Canvas Print Mounting DIY

    Quote Originally Posted by pnodrog View Post
    I once visited a small art/photo gallery and the owner was sitting in a backroom unstapling canvas from their frames. He had purchased about 50x blank framed canvass from a wholesale stationery shop as he found it cheaper to use those frames than make his own. As the canvas was very light and low quality he just dumped it.
    I had the same idea initially -- but went off it pretty fast when I discovered that those frames were - frankly - just complete and utter rubbish

    Having watched a couple of times I do not think the stretching and stapling the canvas to a frame is particularly difficult.
    It's like anything in life in that if you practice it enough then eventually you get good at it, but there are quite a few "gotchas" to start off with, such as getting sufficient and even tension on the canvas - getting corners tight - not damaging the canvas during the stretching process.

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    Re: Canvas Print Mounting DIY

    Quote Originally Posted by Stagecoach View Post
    Hi Colin,

    I was hoping you would reply

    Thank you for the information it's much appreciated, I'll enquire about the canvas being over sprayed.

    Unfortunately 'running a mile' is not really an option as there simply are not the alternatives that you would find elsewhere. It's also been suggested to do this if the printer states that they want your file formatted at 300 DPI, the first I approached insisted on this.

    An interesting development happened today in that I met with another printer that had advised me by phone that they could do it only to find that what they called canvas was actually vinyl. This printer specialised in high resolution printing of commercial advertising banners and posters, one of their clients was our 'top quality' shop here and I regularly view some of this work and have been impressed at the print quality.

    Fortunately the lady that I dealt with was also an interior designer and although not being conversant with 'canvas' gallery wrapped photo wall hangings process was very interested in the concept of being able to produce individual photographic artworks on this medium. As a demonstration of their printing quality she is going to give me a 500 x 500 mm print of any file I give her.

    It must be great living somewhere like NZ, Aus and UK where you simply send you file to a supplier having read their instructions on the web and a week later the postman delivers your canvas print at a price you are very pleased with
    For what it's worth Grahame, printers around these parts wanting 300DPI files were the least of my worries - they also had serious issues with colour management, and in the end I had to adopt the old technique of "of you want a job done properly then you need to do it yourself" - so I invested in an Epson StylusPro 7800 - a photospectrocolorimeter - my own spraying equipment - and learned to do it myself. And to be honest (biased as I am) in terms of quality, what I produce is several orders of magnitude above what the "street shops" are producing. Most of them are producing badly colour-managed, unsharpened rubbish that's not over-sprayed (and thus has poor abrasion resistance and starts to fade within months) - framed on crappy frames with poor tension and rows of unsightly staples on the back that they can't even be bothered covering with framing tape.

    It just wasn't a segment of the market that I wanted to be associated with to be honest. If you're wanting a quality product at an affordable price then it's certainly possible, but it's something you'd need to make a considerable investment in. The flip-side is that you can then start printing and framing canvases for others (and if the prices you quoted before were typical of what the market is extorting (oops, I mean charging), then you could under-cut them very easily (eg my costs to frame a 22 x 44" print is about $10).

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    Re: Canvas Print Mounting DIY

    Hi Colin,

    I hear what you are saying and I can also recognise good from poor quality and that is fine if you have the choice to choose between either.

    For the possible purchaser, forgetting myself, of this product they have nothing to compare standards or prices with as it's simply something that is not on the market in a sense that they can be seen in shops other than a 12" x 12" selection of very poor imported quality snap photos on canvas at a ridiculous price.

    My intention is to try and produce something that is affordable here to a standard that those purchasing would consider acceptable without exploiting people but to provide value for money.

    At present there are still a few hurdles to overcome the main one being is that I have yet to see that a printer here can produce the quality and colour correctness that I would accept and once this is confirmed the aim is to get a few canvases hanging with a portfolio of options with them and see how it goes with minimum investment risk on my side.

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    Re: Canvas Print Mounting DIY

    Quote Originally Posted by Stagecoach View Post
    Unfortunately 'running a mile' is not really an option as there simply are not the alternatives that you would find elsewhere. It's also been suggested to do this if the printer states that they want your file formatted at 300 DPI, the first I approached insisted on this.
    I am curious as to the issue involving the 300ppi requirement, never having heard of this before. Colin acknowledged it as well by referring to it as the least of his worries.

    Can anyone enlighten me? I'm interested in having some canvas prints made but have not been happy with the samples I've seen to date. I'm not in a position to buy a decent printer at the moment for lack of space where I currently live, although I am sure I will end up going that way in the future.
    Last edited by Jeff S; 20th August 2013 at 06:30 PM.

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    Canvas Print Mounting DIY

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff S View Post
    I am curious as to the issue involving the 300ppi requirement, never having heard of this before. Colin acknowledged it as well by referring to it as the least of his worries.

    Can anyone enlighten me? I'm interested in having some canvas prints made but have not been happy with the samples I've seen to date. I'm not in a position to buy a decent printer at the moment for lack of space where I currently live, although I am sure I will end up going that way in the future.
    To be honest, it's very very simple ... printing staff don't understand the relationship between pixels and size. That's it - in a nutshell.

    As a rule, they don't even understand the difference between sRGB and Adobe RGB, let alone profiling.

    Unfortunately, those two facts set the stage for the rest of the experience
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 20th August 2013 at 09:46 PM.

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    Re: Canvas Print Mounting DIY

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff S View Post
    I am curious as to the issue involving the 300ppi requirement, never having heard of this before. Colin acknowledged it as well by referring to it as the least of his worries.

    Can anyone enlighten me? I'm interested in having some canvas prints made but have not been happy with the samples I've seen to date. I'm not in a position to buy a decent printer at the moment for lack of space where I currently live, although I am sure I will end up going that way in the future.
    Hi Jeff,

    I am going to attempt to answer your question as it is something I am learning at the moment and hope that someone may jump in and say I'm right or wrong.

    Firstly a bit of background, to date I have only ever produced images for screen, web, CiC of which are around 1200 pixel width and prints at home up to 10" x 8" both of which my 12.3 megapixel camera resolution is in excess of what is required for these tasks. I am now looking into and learning what the requirements are for having large format prints made with images from this same camera.

    So to date my understanding of advice and requirements are as follow and also take Colin's comment into account;


    Print size in inches equals image size in pixels divided by printer resolution in dots per inch (DPI).

    As an example, my sensor gives an image width of 4288 pixels. If I want to print this image at a printer resolution of 300 DPI I am able to achieve a print width of 14.2" (4288/300). At a printer resolution of 200 DPI I can achieve a printed width of 21.4" (4288/200). There is of course the option of increasing pixel numbers by re-sampling and enlarging by various methods.

    The figure of 300 PPI / DPI which are often used incorrectly are what is generally referred to as the optimum resolution required for a print of 10" x 8" viewed at around 20" (varies depending upon where you read it) or so that can be 'considered' ultimate IQ.

    As you print larger and your viewing distance increases the resolution does not need to be so great (300) for the image to appear acceptably sharp. A chart I have suggests a 20" x 30" image viewed at 54" only requires a resolution of 64 PPI but there are many different charts and opinions where the actual figures vary but are similar.

    From what Colin has said and I would agree following a conversation today is that there are some in the print shops that do not understand that a resolution of 300 DPI is not necessary for a 36" wide image that you are going to view from 6 feet away.

    The question then arises that if you wish to have a large print done is it preferable with respect to IQ to add pixels by re-sampling to achieve the 300, or, do not enlarge by re-sampling but print in a lower resolution if the printer will do this ?

    Note, I refer to the resolution of 300 but 240 is also mentioned often but the trend is the same.

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    Re: Canvas Print Mounting DIY

    Hi Grahame,

    Just a couple of points ...

    1. It's PPI, not DPI. DPI is a function of the printer, and it'll always up-scale the physical PPI of the image.

    2. The actual PPI becomes somewhat of a moot point ... if the printer says "must be 300PPI" and the image you have is only 200 PPI, then you really only have 3 choices; either

    (a) Print the image at the lower PPI (and then wonder what all the fuss was about)

    (b) Print the image at 300PPI (resulting in a smaller print)

    (c) Up-sample the image to 300PPI

    In the past I've just done the latter, and the printer man is happy because it's now at 300PPI and all is right in the universe again (even though the up-sampling doesn't add any meaningful information, and is the digital equivalent of a placebo for the printer).

    In real world terms - whilst printing on canvas, anything down to about 100 PPI is fine; it's once you start getting down to around 70PPI that you can start to see the degradation from 2 to 3 feet away.

    The bottom line is that if you want a print of a certain size, then the PPI "is what it is" -- you can't add information that wasn't captured and there's no point taking any away (usually).

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    Re: Canvas Print Mounting DIY

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    For what it's worth Grahame, printers around these parts wanting 300DPI files were the least of my worries - they also had serious issues with colour management, and in the end I had to adopt the old technique of "of you want a job done properly then you need to do it yourself" - so I invested in an Epson StylusPro 7800 - a photospectrocolorimeter - my own spraying equipment - and learned to do it myself. And to be honest (biased as I am) in terms of quality, what I produce is several orders of magnitude above what the "street shops" are producing. Most of them are producing badly colour-managed, unsharpened rubbish that's not over-sprayed (and thus has poor abrasion resistance and starts to fade within months) - framed on crappy frames with poor tension and rows of unsightly staples on the back that they can't even be bothered covering with framing tape.

    It just wasn't a segment of the market that I wanted to be associated with to be honest. If you're wanting a quality product at an affordable price then it's certainly possible, but it's something you'd need to make a considerable investment in. The flip-side is that you can then start printing and framing canvases for others (and if the prices you quoted before were typical of what the market is extorting (oops, I mean charging), then you could under-cut them very easily (eg my costs to frame a 22 x 44" print is about $10).
    Same here, I worked out that to have 21 A1 prints plus stock for my exhibition printed for me would cost me more than buying an Epson 7900 myself, and it has taken me about to weeks to learn how to be able to print as well as anyone in my city of Darwin. I have so much to learn but can print on the media I choose with quality inks and so on. My input into this subject is to learn about the quality of inks, printers and media. Some canvas are absolute rubbish as is the case with papers and cotton rags. The same can be said about the people who charge you too much to print. Ask to see their work and be sure to get a test proof of your job before the actual print. Canvas is very forgiving anyway. The best decision I have made with my exhibition is to sell prints only and leave the rest up to the client rather than make it my problem. This can also save a lot of money when the client is not living in your home town and needs to transport it home. I have just matt boarded them for hanging and printed on a Canson Cotton Rag 310 gms.

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