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If you’re stretching canvas, you really, really should do so with a reliable pair of canvas pliers. Canvas that isn’t properly stretched can ruin the look of a painting; stretched paintings are also better for a work’s longevity, helping to guard against dust or damage. Canvas pliers, which look like large clamps, help ensure that the material is pulled as tautly as possible across the stretching bars while freeing up a hand for your staple gun. Of course, if you’re going to shell out some cash for these bad boys, you’ll want a pair that work effectively, suit your purposes, and last a lifetime (ideally). Here are five we recommend.
Fredrix Premier Canvas Pliers
This reliable model is the go-to for many artists working with canvas. Its bright red, easy-to-spot handle has a comfortable and secure grip and features a smooth, spring-return action. The jaws are four inches long to cover a good amount of material while clamping, and their interiors are covered with rubber, rather than teeth, that is grippy but softened to prevent damage to your canvas. If strength and durability is what you’re after, these chromium-plated pliers are a good bet.
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Richeson Cast Iron Canvas Pliers
These pliers are made of heavy-duty cast iron and have three-inch-wide jaws to hold snugly and evenly onto larger canvas. They are a great pick for artists who only occasionally stretch their canvases or want to try doing so before committing to a higher-end tool. Budget-friendly and basic, they don’t feature a spring but provide a steady grip. We wouldn’t count on it for longevity, but it’s certainly reliable for short-term or intermittent use.
Holbein Extreme Canvas Pliers
If you want to buy pliers once and never again, Holbein’s are the ones for you. Thing is, these will cost you a pretty penny. Here’s why they’re worth it if you need to stretch canvases for serious projects: Each is made with molybdenum, a highly corrosion-resistant aluminum alloy that is lightweight yet extremely durable. Pair that with rubberized, spring-loaded handles that feel good on the hand and you have pliers that won’t wear you out as you make deliberate, firm clamps. Plus, the jaws are 4.5 inches long and are lined with high-quality, grippy (and replaceable) rubber strips to protect the canvas. Use them for canvases of all sizes.
Creative Mark Pro Canvas Pliers
If you want something a little sleeker, try these powerful chrome-plated pliers. Your canvas isn’t going anywhere when it’s sandwiched between this model’s two-inch-wide, spring-return jaws. They are slightly serrated to grab the canvas properly but not toothy so they don’t tear the canvas. The slender body fits well in smaller hands.