Making Linen Panels For Outdoor Painting


Armand Cabrera

I’ve been asked by some readers of this blog to show how I go about making my panels for painting. It is a fairly simple process but I will explain it step by step for those of you who are interested in making your own.

I do buy my birch panels from SourceTek. I find them to be the best panels on the market and I have never had a problem with ordering like I have with some other companies that make similar products. I also buy my glue for the panels from SourceTek, it is a non-shrinking glue called Miracle Muck. I buy it by the gallon, which will make more than a hundred panels for me.

I start by laying out a roll of linen, in this case Claessens 820 from Utrecht. I place the panels out, spacing them with enough room to leave an edge of about a quarter inch larger than the wood.

Using a pencil, I draw a line as a guide for cutting the linen with my utility knife.

Since I’m making these on my studio floor I slide a cutting mat under each panel before cutting the linen.

I cut out all the panels I’m going to make that day and stack them for gluing.

Next I pore out some glue on a panel being careful not to use too much.

With my putty knife I spread the glue evenly across the boards surface and if I do have too much I scrape it on to the next panel so I don’t waste it.

I use an ink brayer and starting from the center roll all the air pockets out from under the surface of the linen.

When I am sure the linen is completely flattened out I flip it over and place some weights on it to dry.

Once the glue has dried overnight, I trim the edge of the board and the panel is ready.

7 thoughts on “Making Linen Panels For Outdoor Painting

  1. Excellent! I just got myself some oil primed linen and since i prefer to paint on panels, this was just what i needed to read!

    But I'm still unsure about the birch plywood. I know they give off acidic vapors naturally, and the glue that binds the different layers can come loose after a couple of years. MDF panels are available formaldehyde free.

    Do you seal the panels beforehand? Ive had some luck using a polyurethane matte varnish, but these things still worry me.

    The glue that you use, is it just regular PVA? I know that there are special glues that are heat activated, allowing one to change the panels if one wishes. Any experimentation with that?

    Cheers for a great blog, Tim

  2. Tim,

    I don't seal the panels. I've been painting on them for over ten years now and they have never separated. I have tried everything and these are the best panels on the market. I've painted in over 100 degree temps in the southwest and 5 dgrees above zero in Montana. All wood products outgas to some extent, including the wood in the walls of your house, the furniture in your house and the wood on stretched canvas, your pochade and easel. Miracle muck is an EVA, heat active at 130 allowing you to remove the linen if you need to. You can read about is on the sourcetek website( I have them in my sidebar)

  3. exceptional step-by-step. Step three where you cut out the canvas –it is important to leave that 1/4" as you have..the first time I did this I did not know better and I trimmed it close to the panel..sure enough it shrunk enough that there wasn't enough canvas to reach the edge. Live and learn! Your photos and description are first rate!

  4. One of the best descriptions of making a canvas panel that I have read. I use masonite panels, and I wonder if this technique would work for those panels as well. I use the palette knife a lot, and a panel (coated with gesso) is so much better than stretched canvas. Any changes to the technique or reservations about using it for these panels?

    Thanks for a great blog! One of the best art blogs I have read!

  5. With masonite you must make sure the surface is properly prepared for the ground(gesso) other than that you shouldn't have any problems. When I painted on masonite I always sanded the surface to give it a slight tooth.

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