How to Make a Canvas Frame

jordan 1 one canvas frame mounted

Let me start off by saying that social media marketing does work. I was scrolling along and came across an ad for what looked like an awesome print. I paused on it, reflected and decided to pass. Next thing you know the same ad was showing up in other social media feeds and with every impression, I got a little bit closer to pulling the trigger. So here we are a few weeks later and I have to make a canvas frame. Before I get into the build, just know that it took a long time to deliver given it was likely drop shipped from China, and the package came damaged – meaning I had a huge crease across the top of the canvas. Was not impressed, but again, here we are.

With Autumn upon us, I am running out of time to burn through all the old deck scraps, so this will again be created using recycled wood.

spare wood on ground


  • Mitre Saw
  • Drill & Driver Set
  • Staple Gun
  • 12″ Speed Square
  • (Optional) Canvas Clamp
  • (Optional) Kreg Face Clamp



Cutting frame material
  1. Find your best material. Since I was using scraps, I had to find my straightest pieces. I placed the sides of each piece against a 48″ box level for straightness and took the best working pieces. I then straight edge cut each piece to ensure each piece was straight and flat. I really wish I had a planer as it makes these types of jobs much easier. Maybe next year. If your pieces need to be straightened out I will write a post about how to do this at a later time.
  2. Cut your material down to size. A canvas frame is nothing more than a square, with some support in between to prevent bowing or warping over time. As you mount your canvas onto the frame, each staple will further stabilize your frame. The more important component to framing is deciding the height and width of your end piece. Most canvas material will have a white border around it, which is intentional. The art within the white borders is our actual working piece and mine measured at 32″ x 48″. Since I wanted the art to be visible along the depth of the frame, I had to deduct 1.5″ from each side (3″ total) – since I am using 2×2″ – for the overall height and width of the finished product. 29″ x 45″ will be the end result.

I will be running two straight pieces across the full width of the frame, I know the cut will be exactly 45″. For the height of the frame, I have to deduct another 1.5″ from the top and bottom for a cut of (29″ – 3″) 26″. I made 3 of these cuts the exact same size.

speed square for right angle
  1. Screw the outside frame together. Nothing crazy here. Since all three vertical pieces are cut exactly the same size, you shouldn’t have a problem creating right angles. When screwing, start with the two sides first, until you create an outline of the frame. Predrill first to prevent the frame from shifting. Take your time here.

Your most important goal here is to make sure the ends are flush with one another. Any lip or gap at all will show as soon as you stretch the canvas fabric over. If you run into a scenario where one piece is slightly thicker than another, determine which end of your frame is the face and make that side flush. What I do is use a Kreg Face Clamp which is actually designed to keep two pieces flush. If you don’t have one of these, an alternative is to take a flat bar and clamp it across the work pieces so that the wood follows the plane of the bar.

finishing frame of canvas
  1. Attach your center support. You may or may not need this depending on the size of your frame. For larger frames, I do like to add center support as it prevents the longer pieces from bowing when you pull canvas tightly over it. You’ll also notice that once you create the outside frame, there will be some wiggle room for the frame to shift. The center support will eliminate this structural weakness. Attach it the same way you did the sides, ensuring the face of the frame is flush. Predill first.
orbital sander on bench top

Sand and wipe. Of course, sanding is inevitable. I just ran a quick pass at 240 to get the face of the surface smooth as well as clean up any potential imperfections on the corners. Don’t over do it here otherwise you may end up taking off too much wood and ruin the ‘square’ finish.

You’re done! Now time to wrap the canvas.

Wrapping your Frame with Canvas Art

This part scares a lot of people, but it’s actually quite easy. Canvas material is quite stretchy so if you take your time, it’s not hard to get the finish you want. Mistakes can also easily be fixed, so don’t worry and give it a shot!

wrapping canvas frame
  1. Position the frame onto the canvas. Position the frame where you want the art work to be. You’ll notice there is about 3″ from each side instead of the 1.5″ we accounted for. This is because of the white border we mentioned earlier which now gives you ample room to staple to the frame. Again, you’ll also notice that my canvas is very damaged due to the shipping. Lastly – remember how I said canvas is very easy to fix? Trust me I know because I actually wrapped this twice. When I completed it the first time, I realized I could fix the crease by ironing it beneath a towel, so I took everything apart, ironed it and remounted it.
wrapping canvas frame
  1. Up, Down, Left, Right. Simple as that. Secure the canvas on with a staple gun in that order – up, down, left, right. Top: position the canvas at the right location making sure the image is straight, and then staple it with 3 punches – on center, and approximately 1″ to the right and left of center. Bottom: Now that the top is secure, pull the canvas tightly from the bottom and wrap it around the bottom frame. Repeat with 3 punches – on center, and approximately 1″ to the right and left of center. With each punch, pull the canvas tighter as to prevent sagging. Right & Left: Repeat the same as above, ensuring you are pulling the canvas tight with each staple you put in. You’ll notice a pull on the canvas as the material stiffens up against the frame.

In the tools list, I put a Canvas Clamp. I don’t own this and didn’t use one, but if you have one, it can help quite a bit. The clamp looks like a chip bag clip, which latches onto the canvas at a wider grip, alleviating pressure from a single point.

  1. Work your way around: Once you have all 4 sides secured on center, what I like to do is continue moving around from center out – add 3-5 staples to the top right, then 3-5 staples across the top left – pulling the canvas tight with each punch. Then rotate the frame and counter that pressure with 3-5 punches to the bottom right, and 3-5 punches to the bottom left. Repeat this process on the left and right side, creating a wider footprint along the center of the frame. Once done, start back at the top and repeat the entire cycle. Before completing this step, read step 4 so you know where to stop.
wrapping corner canvas frame
  1. Leave 6″ on each corner of the side rails. When doing the sides, you want to stop at about 6″‘s from each corner to allow room to clean up the edges. Once you get to that point, just finish off the top and bottom. For better visualization, at this point you’ll have the top and bottom fully stapled, with the centers of each side stapled up to the 6″ mark of each corner. You can do this inversely if you prefer the folds to be on top and bottom of the canvas.
wrapping corner fit on canvas frame
  1. Fold the corner’s in. You can take your finger nail or a flathead and run it along the edge, pressing the corner into a fold. This will leave you with a sharp edge that can now be stapled flush against the frame. Repeat for all 4 corners.

That’s it! If you pulled on the canvas tight enough, you will get a beautifully wrapped canvas frame. If you notice any mistakes, it’s quite simple to fix. Take your flathead and pop open the staples and try again! Once you do a few rounds, you’ll be blasting through these in no time!

If you are looking for more weekend projects, hit up our weekend project category for more ideas. Hope you enjoyed this project!

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