How to Measure Cross Bars and Stretcher Bars

Written by paul jeter
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How to Measure Cross Bars and Stretcher Bars
Support your painting so it does not warp. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Stretcher bars are the supports of a canvas painting. They can be bought at art supply stores and designed to fit together perfectly. There are standard sizes based on multiples of four and six. Lightweight stretchers are 1 inch thick. Heavy-duty gallery wrap stretcher bars are 3 to 4 inches thick. In the same section, you will find cross bars in standard sizes that are made to be attached easily. Depending on the size of your painting, either one or two cross bars is necessary. Accurate measurement will provide ideal support for the canvas.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Stretcher bars
  • Cross bar
  • Screws, nails or staples

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  1. 1

    Construct the frame. Fit the stretcher bars together. Opposite stretchers should be equal length.

  2. 2

    Check the squareness by measuring the length of the diagonal from corner to opposite corner. Both diagonals should measure the same. If they do not, make the frame square by shortening the longer diagonal and lengthening the shorter diagonal until they are even.

  3. 3

    Double-check the length and width. Measure both lengths of the two longest sides. They should match. Measure the lengths of the two shorter sides. The measurements should match exactly.

  4. 4

    Secure the frame with screw, staples or nails.

  5. 5

    Make a mark at the centre point. Remeasure the lengths and make a mark at the centre points of every side.

  6. 6

    Measure the inside of the frame from centre point across to the opposite centre point. This is the inside length of the cross bar. Cut your own or purchase a cross bar that will fit your frame. Attach with two screws in each end. This will keep the frame from warping. Stretch canvas around your frame and gesso before beginning your painting.

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