The main thing that I have been focusing on for the National Stationery Show is working up new designs. But since I can’t show you any of that yet, we’ll start with building the walls. The walls are probably the hardest part of building/designing your booth. They can be the most expensive part and just a pain in the butt to deal with. You can see my history in walls here.
This year, I am going forward will making canvas stretched walls. This entails building canvas stretchers, stretching the canvas and then making them into the walls. So in this post, I will take you step by step on how to build a canvas stretcher without a wood shop. It does help to have friends with tools, a large basement and painter friends that know a little bit about stretching canvases.
Step one: I had to figure out how the canvases would work as the walls. So I figured out how big they would have to be and then spoke with UPS and FedEx to make sure they would be able to ship that size box. Once that was clear, I was ready to get started.
Step two: I wanted to make the canvases modular so that they would then be assembled once we got there since UPS and FedEx will not be able to ship anything that is the size of the usual wall panels that everyone uses: 4×8 ft. So I broke these down and there will be 4×4 ft with two 2×4 ft panels to make up the difference. Here is a quick drawing of my 2 walls and their panels.
Step three: So now I had to figure out how to stretch a canvas. I did this by watching a lot of youtube videos and consulting with many painter friends. In college, I had made them with crown molding but I wanted to do one better. The traditional way is to take 1×3 poplar wood and add quarter round to it to made the ledge. You need the ledge to keep the canvas off of the wood. I don’t know why exactly but it is apparently really important.
Step four: I was ready to get going. I needed to figure out how much wood I needed before heading to the Home Depot. I have eight 4×4 ft canvases and two 2×4 ft canvases. Therefore, I needed to end up with thirty-six 4 ft pieces of wood and four 2 ft pieces of wood. I needed both the poplar and the quarter round in these measurements. But I also needed the corners to be mitered but that will come later. Since I knew I was going to mitre them after putting the quarter round on the poplar, I really needed the wood to be a little bigger. So I ended up buying thirty-six at 4.5ft and four at 2.5ft in both the poplar and the quarter round.
Step five: I cut the quarter round at the little cutting station they have at the Home Depot with a saw and measuring tape. Then we had the poplar cut by Home Depot.
Step six: Now we are ready to attach the quarter round to the poplar. I first put a small bead of wood glue on the quarter round. I then used trim nails to attach the two pieces of wood. On a 4.5 ft length, we used 5 nails. You want to make sure that the flat side of the quarter round is at the top of the poplar, inline with the 1inch side of the poplar. See the image for clarification.
Step seven: Miter the ends of the wood down to the correct size. I have a friend that has a mitre saw and we just used his. We marked all the wood to the correct and final size and mitered them at a 45 degree angle. You want the longer side to be the one with the quarter round attached. That will be the outer edge of the frame.
Step eight: Now we just have to put the four pieces together. We used small metal “L” brakets in the corners along with some wood glue along the diagonal. First, we marked the wood using the holes in the “L” brackets as our guide. Then we drilled a small hole on the marks. Then we used screws to attach the brackets to the wood.
Once you have gotten this far, it is important to measure across the frame to make sure that you haven’t created a rhombus. Only squares allowed. Okay, that’s as far as we’ve gotten so far. I have been informed by my painter friends that we do indeed need to include some cross braces before we canvas these bad boys. So that is the next step and I will show you that process as well when we get to it.