February 23, 2011

The latest post from Little House on the Suburban Prairie.

Warning: really trivial post about stretcher bars. yawn.

Short of going door-to-door looking for a stretcher builder. I have tried to research the best and most economical options for making large paintings again. And hint, "fast" is not going to be part of the equation. First off, the two local art supply stores have sold out of canvas and supplies thanks to the local college students, and second, I'd rather not buy storeboughts for large scale.

I have an order on hold with one of the mail order companies. It is on hold because they emailed me the cost of making dado cuts on my cross-braces. $5.50 per cut. I need 24 cuts. That's $132 for just cuts. As it stands, I've probably wasted $132 in hourly wages trying to come up with a cheaper solution, but that's besides the point. Perhaps $132 doesn't sound like much, but I am building my own. When the cost of building my own (materials only) sneaks over the halfway mark to the cost of someone building them for me, I begin to question the whole thing.

More research.
I love aluminum stretchers. When I was slightly more flush, I used aluminum stretchers. I swore I'd never go back to wood. I watched a video about a company that makes and ships aluminum stretcher bars, and saw how frgiggging simple and painless it was to assemble them. They are pricey, even unassembled. Then there's the whole shipping from California thing.
Evaluation: Not doing aluminum without grant money right now.

My order for pre-fab stretcher bars is still on hold. The woman in charge of the order is nice. It's not their company that's charging the mark-up; it's the stretcher bar supplier.

I looked around for other brands of precut stretcher bars and precut crossbraces. They exist. Some are cheaper, but they don't carry my size, or are out, or look to be more way more complex than my needs. I am stretching canvas, not a sheet of lead.

I looked into what equipment I would need to make my own dado cuts. Two trusted sources gave me some relatively inexpensive leads:
Option 1) a table saw costing in the $150 range.
Option 2) a router or a laminate trimmer. Roughly $100.
Option 3) a handheld circular saw. (already own.)

I watched a video about making dado cuts with a circular saw. I tried to imagine how many passes I would have to make to get one cut. I made a diagram on paper, in order to simulate my experience. I grew weary, and that was just the simulation.

I looked online for local wood shops and found someone who offers classes. Tomorrow night in fact. I spoke to the shop and asked about dado cuts. They wouldn't be covering that in class, but he gave me some info:
First off I'd need a 800 contractor's table saw to use a dado blade, otherwise, I'd burn the motor out.
Second, If I chose to make umpteenthousand cuts with a 1/8" blade....
(See above paragraph on simulation.)

He suggested I get a Porter Cable 690 router with a 3/4" wide straight cut bit. The whole contraption would be under $200, which would pay for itself within a reasonable short period of time.

But wait there's more.. I asked if one of the employee at the wood shop would bid me the cost of making stretcher bars, from scratch.

Then I remembered the old school way I used to make my own, using either finger-joined brick molding or 1" x 2" with quarter round, which got me rethinking everything, except the cross braces. I mean, shoot, if I have to assemble my own, why not just go all the way and build from scratch? Tomorrow I price out lumber.


Carla said...

Table saw will also bevel the edge so you don't need a 1/4 round.

And just to add to your giant pile of choices, I once constructed a table saw, to which I was able to attach my circular saw. It was all wood, with a slot for the blade, and mounting brackets for the saw underneath. I have no memory of how I cut things like the slot, but I have a feeling it was not safe. I'm not saying I'd recommend this, I'm just adding to the fun.

M.A.H. said...

Yes, yes, I was excited about the little table saw, but minus the wretched dado cuts, I've got everything else I need. I suppose that I could even build some intricate 45° brace system instead, or use those metal T-Braces, but suddenly I have the desire to go pro.

I'm quite impressed by your rogue shop skills, btw.