Instructions For Assembling Stretcher Frames With Universal Braces


“Just received the stretchers and put them together. The new stock brace system is great, nice materials.  Now I need to place another order ……”

Michael Bromley: Professional Artist,  Regina,  Saskatchewan

Stretcher Frame Components

Stretcher Frame Components:  stretcher bars, braces, brace brackets, screws and keys.

Tools Required:  rubber mallet, Philips screwdriver, measuring tape.

Stock 30x40 Bracket

All stretcher bars 36 inches long and over should be braced. This applies to all of our stretcher bar profiles.   The 30″ x 40″ frame shown above requires one 30″ brace to support the long bars.

Stock 48x48 Bracket

The 48″ x 48″ stretcher frame shown above requires two 48″ braces, one in each direction.  A "dado" is machined in the center of all intersecting braces to permit flush nesting.

Assembly of Frames with Stock Bars and Braces

Assembly of Frames with Stock Bars & Braces

The first step is to fasten the brackets to the stretcher bars.  Measure and mark the center of the bar and the bracket,  and using 2 screws,  attach the bracket to the bar with the back edges of the bar and bracket flush (see drawing below).

Drive the screws in so that the heads are flush or slightly below the surface.  CAUTION: to avoid splitting the wood do not drive the screws too deeply into the brackets.

Comparing Brace Bracket Professional and Standard Bar

Comparing Brackets Professional and Standard Bar

Note the positioning of the bracket on the Standard and Professional Bars.  The back side of the bracket should line up flush with the back edge of the bar.  This provides the maximum “set-back” (space) between the stretched canvas and the braces.

Stretcher Frame Assembly

Stretcher Frame Assembly 1

1.  For frames with 2 braces, fasten both braces together with the hardware (screw and sleeve nut) provided.


2.  Attach the bottom stretcher bar to the braces by sliding the brace slot over the bracket.


3.  Attach the right stretcher bar to the bottom bar and horizontal brace.  Use a mallet to tap the joints tightly into place.


4.  Attach the top stretcher bar to the right bar and vertical brace.


5.  Attach the left bar to the top bar and horizontal brace. Tap all bars together so that all joints are fitting tightly and the frame is assembled square.


6.  Check that the frame is square by measuring the diagonals which should be equal.


7.  Your frame is now ready for stretching the canvas. See our instructions for How to Stretch Canvas for more information on this step.


8.  After the canvas is stapled to the frame, place 2 keys in each corner and one key at the end of each brace.  Tap keys in to provide desired tension in canvas.