Saturday, July 12, 2008

Fredrix Canvas Pliers

Late last year I started adding a few canvas wraps to my collection. They went over quite well, so I decided to add some more this year. When I made my wrap last year, I simply stretched the canvas using my bare hands. That accomplished the goal, but had 2 problems. First, it's extremely taxing on the hands trying to grip the canvas and pull it tight. Second, while it got decently tight, it was a little looser than I'd like. Since I would be doing more canvases this year, I decided to pick up a pair of canvas stretching pliers make the job easier and to do it better.

In looking at the canvas pliers out there, there was a huge variation in whats available, with prices ranging all the way from $20 to over $150. While there might be real benefits to the expensive pliers, I knew I wouldn't be doing all that many canvas wraps (at least not yet) so I decided I'd try whatever I could get the cheapest. I ended up finding the Fredrix 7400 Canvas Pliers for about $18 at Dick Blick

Money Saving Tip
In addition, if you order online through Ebates, you can get a 6% refund on the cost. Instead of going to the Dick Blick website, you go to the Ebates website and go into the stores section, find the link to Dick Blick Art Materials and click on it. It will take you to the Dick Blick website where you can make your purchase. That's all you have to do. No need to send in any UPCs or wait for a rebate. They send it to you automatically. You need to signup for an Ebates account first, but it's free, and they offer you rebates for a ton of other stores (,, etc).

If you don't have an Ebates account already, you can sign up by clicking the link for the Ebates Signup Offer at the top of the right column of this page (in the Resources section). Signing up through the link and making a purchase will also get you a signup bonus of $5 or more.

Putting the pliers to use

They did quite well at stretching. The jaws have a series of interlocking v-grooves to get a good grip on the canvas. In addition, each v-groove has a series of raised x-shaped bumps along it to give an even tighter grip. I had no problems with the canvas slipping out. The pliers also have a protrusion on the bottom jaw that serves 2 purposes. First it can be used as a hammer, presumably to hammer in staples that don't go all the way. I don't know how well that works, as I find it just as well to keep a tiny hammer nearby when stretching. Second, it can be used to give you extra leverage to help pull the canvas tighter. It works quite well for that purpose, though it does have a tendency to indent softer woods.

After stretching about 4 canvases, I ran into a problem. The hinge pin for the pliers is simply a pin that fits through one side, and a cap the fits over it on the other side. The 2 simply are pressed together, with no threads or weld to hold it in place. Well, after barely any use, the pin fell apart. I tried replacing it hammering it on or compressing it on with another pair of pliers, but it wouldn't stay in place for more than a single canvas.

I had contemplated sending it back for an exchange or return, but that would entail paying for return shipping. Instead, I found another solution using parts I already had around the house. I took a small bolt, a washer, and a 2 nuts and used that to make a new hinge pin. You can't put the nut on tight, since the pliers need to turn, and doing so will loosen the nut. Instead you need the nut to be on tight without actually tightening it down. The ideal solution would be to use a lock nut. However, I didn't have any of those around the house. Instead I just used 2 nuts. I put the first one on just finger tight, then I put the second one on and wrenched it down tight against the first one. It may not be beautiful, but it works just fine.

repaired pliers, and pieces of broken hinge pin

view of the jaw grips

close up view of the repair


This is a decent pair of pliers for a pretty good price. If you can accept the fact that your hinge pin may break on you (not sure how common it is...pretty common I suspect) and don't mind replacing it with about 25 cents worth of parts, then I can't see a real reason not to recommend these pliers. There may be some value in more expensive pliers (I have no idea), but for light duty use I'm not sure how much it is justified. here to read more!