About Our Stretchers

There is a clear need in the art supply market for top quality, heavy duty canvas stretchers suitable for large size canvas paintings. In 1993 we created Twin Brooks Stretchers® to fill this need. Our stretchers are made from aspen wood sawn and dried at our facility in Lincolnville, Maine and assembled at our own custom shop. Aspen wood, when properly dried and selected, is stable and strong and makes excellent stretcher bar stock. We use a mechanical corner fastening system called a Tite Joint Fastener. We believe this to be a rugged, cost-effective improvement over traditional wedges.

We also carry and stretch high quality 100% Belgian Linen as a complement to our fine stretchers. In addition we make 1/4″ ply panels, and shadowbox style finish frames. Please inquire for current prices and read on to learn more about our product that serves artists well and encourages appropriate use of our natural resources. Our toll free telephone number is 800-856-1567 if you have any questions or would like to place an order. Custom stretchers and other special orders are welcome. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,  Chris Polson and Joe Calderwood

Technical Advantages

Wood characteristics: Aspen sapwood is firm and white with uniform consistency and density through the cross section. Heartwood varies from whitish to creamy to light grayish brown. Aspen is free from sticky pitch and associated staining problems. Properly dried to between 6% and 8% moisture content and selected for straightness and structural integrity, aspen is a strong, lightweight, stable wood.

Benefits for stretcher use: Aspen wood is well suited to the job of taking and holding staples or tacks to fasten canvas. Its strength and stability stand up to the task of holding a taught canvas as it dries after gesso application or other canvas preparation. Aspen wood does not tend to be splintery. Twin Brooks heavy duty stock profile: Our stock measures 3″ wide by 1.25″ thick on one edge tapering to 7/8″ thick on the opposite edge. The stock comes with eased outside edges. The unique properties of aspen and our profile size make it particularly suited to large size canvases. We manufacture straight stock in single pieces up to 12′. Larger sizes can be joined. Bars may be laminated for straightness.

Read what these artists have to say about our stretchers:

“The density and weight of poplar (aspen) is ideal for stretching canvas.”
Neil Welliver, Lincolnville, ME.

“After years of using splintery fir the aspen is refreshing to use. It is strong, consistent, and feels good. The corner hardware functions efficiently.” Eric Hopkins, No. Haven, ME.

“Until now, I have been unable to find stretchers that meet my standards for strength, function, and overall quality. These stretchers are available in large sizes and have a superior corner joint system.”
Steve Weston, E. Winthrop, ME.

“In my 25 years of painting these are the best stretchers I’ve come across. I’m definitely going to take a good supply back to England with me.”
Graham Coles, MFA, (Oxon) England.

“I like the corner joint system and the overall quality of the stretcher. Twin Brooks also stretched top quality Belgian Linen on my large frames and delivered them in good shape directly to my studio.”
Alison Hildreth, Portland, ME.

Environmental Considerations

Silviculture of Aspen: Bigtooth aspen (populus grandidentata) and trembling aspen (populus tremuloides) grow predominantly in northern regions of the world. Aspen is a pioneer tree species with several adaptations that enable it to colonize newly disturbed sites such as burns or harvested areas. When the main tree stem is removed, hormonal control over latent buds on the root system is stopped and heavy root sprouting occurs, often in the same growing season. The intact root system provides abundant nutrition and water to the rapidly growing shoots which soon dominate growing space. Aspen tends to grow in expanding groups from this habit of root sprouting. Aspen produces large quantities of lightweight seed early in the spring that can get a head start on bare soil over heavy seeded or later seed bearing species. These seedlings grow rapidly compared to other tree species. The abundant young aspen shoots that arise from both of these forms of regeneration ensure a rapid recolonization of harvested sites. This in turn helps harvested land remain productive. Vigorously growing young shoots produce a great deal of oxygen and consume a lot of carbon dioxide, both desirable traits with a global warming trend upon us. These young shoots also provide ideal wildlife food and cover for species such as ruffed grouse, woodcock, white-tailed deer, and snowshoe hare.

Source of raw materials:We buy aspen logs that grow in the state of Maine. These logs come from a variety of harvesting sites including selective harvests, patch cuttings and clearcuts. All of the loggers operating in Maine are required to operate under strict OSHA standards and perform in accordance with the Maine environmental laws as well as the progressive Maine Forest Practices Act of 1989.

Value added benefits:We saw the aspen logs on a small efficient band saw and kiln dry the lumber in a state-of-the-art drying kiln that produces consistent high quality drying. By manufacturing stretchers at our facility we are able to get more value from the same raw material. This in turn allows us to offer high prices for logs, which benefits landowners, loggers, and their suppliers.