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Featured Artist: Andrea Pramuk

Connecting DEEP Cradle Panels is Just Nuts & Bolts

Andrea's Technique for Connecting Cradled Panels

"Climbing Out" by Andrea Pramuk, Oil on Deep Gessobord, Triptych bolted together.

For artists working with multiple Ampersand DEEP cradle panels, bolting together their own panels is an inventive way to present their work. If you can drill a hole and have a little patience, bolting panels together and mounting hanging hardware is really no big deal.

Bolting small panels together

(ex. 12˝x12˝ and smaller)

Bolting Materials List

  • Ampersand DEEP cradle panels
  • Clamps
  • Crescent & socket wrenches
  • Electric or cordless drill
  • 7/16˝ drill bit
  • 3/8˝ x 2˝ hex bolts
  • 3/8˝ nuts & washers
  • Pencil & ruler/tape measure

Step 1: Deciding how the painting should be assembled.

Next, lay the pieces face down on a soft cloth or towel so as not to damage the painting surface. Caution! When turning the painting sections over, make sure you have arranged them correctly from top to bottom and left to right. Double-check again before drilling holes.

Step 2: Measuring the placement of the holes.

Line up the panels flush and hold them in place with clamps if necessary. Measure the center of the cradle frame and pencil-mark the two panels that are to be connected (fig. 1a). Unclamp the panels and measure the center of the side of the cradle from top to bottom using your center mark from the backs of the panel as your guide (fig. 1b). Placing the holes in the center of the side of the cradle will prevent the panels from pulling forward or pulling backward and will keep the panels perfectly flat.

Step 3: Drilling the holes

(fig. 2) You may want to adjust the size of your holes and the size of your bolts depending on the size of your panels. For this demonstration on both the large and small panels, we used a 7/16” drill bit. Important: Drill the hole from the outside of the cradle to the inside. Repeat this process for all the cradles. The hole will be larger than the bolt so that you have some “wiggle room” for shoring up the panels. Sand the holes if necessary and vacuum or brush away any debris.

Step 4: Bolting the panels together

(fig. 3-4) We used a 3/8˝ x 2˝ bolt, one 3/8˝ washer and one 3/8˝ nut. Insert the bolt through the holes of both the panels to be connected. Put the washer over the end of the bolt and then attach the nut. Make sure the panels are flush together and adjust if necessary. Tighten the nut with a socket or crescent wrench while holding the bolt steady with a second crescent wrench. Repeat this process until all the panels are connected. Test the tightness of each connection to be sure they are completely secure.

Bolting larger panels together

(ex. 24˝x 24˝ and larger, fig. 5)

Larger panels may require more bolts if you’re assembling them into a straight line so as to prevent twisting. A general rule to follow is one bolt every 12˝-16˝. For this demonstration, we used two 6˝x 24˝ panels mounted to one 18˝x24 panel, creating a 24˝x30˝ panel in three sections. Since the piece was tall and narrow, two bolts seemed a logical choice. When you are working with larger panels, keep the panels clamped together tightly while drilling the holes through both panels simultaneously as illustrated in Figure 5. Follow the same step 4 above (fig. 3-4) to bolt the panels together.

Hanging Tips

For general hanging (under 30#), use screw eyes and picture wire (fig. 6). Select the size of the screw eye based on the weight and size of the painting. Mark a spot with a pencil about 1/4 of the way down from the top of the painting on the inside of the cradle. Pre-drill the hole for the screw eye. If you do not pre-drill the hole, the head of the screw eye will break off when tightened into the hole. Insert the screw eye into the hole and tighten with plyers. Repeat the process on the other side of the painting and attach hanging wire.

“D” ring hangers are great for hanging heavier paintings (30-50#) and are easily attached with screws (fig. 8). The “D” ring hangers can be used either with picture wire attached or can be hung directly on nails or screws on the wall. Keyhole hangers are great for hanging extremely heavy (50#+) and larger works and are easy to attach with wood screws (fig. 7). Attach one each on the left and right side of the painting. Hang directly on nails or screws preferably that are connected to a stud in the wall. Pre-drill the holes and tighten screws with either a screw driver, electric drill or cordless screwdriver for either of these two options.

Hanging Materials List

  • Ampersand DEEP Cradle panels
  • Ooks screw eyes
  • "D" ring hangers or keyhole hangers
  • Hanging Wire
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Electric drill or cordless screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Pencil

Ideas for the edge of the cradle

Besides painting the cradle a solid color or applying gesso to the sides in order to wrap your painting around the edges, here are a couple of other treatment options you can try.

Applying wood stain

One option is to stain the edge of the cradle. Any type of wood stain will work. Choose from a regular wood stain or a stain that also has a protective finish built in. Gel stain is easier to apply and control, but the liquid stains work well too. For this demonstration, we used an oil-based wood stain from Minwax® in an oak finish. Start by sanding the cradle with either a sanding block or handheld electric sander to remove any paint, loose wood fibers or uneven places (fig. 9). Clean the edges with a damp rag to remove any dust. Apply the oil-based stain with a soft cloth or brush and allow it to dry for several hours (fig. 10). Apply more coats until the stain reaches your desired color. After the stain is completely dry, you can apply varnish or lacquer for a glossier finish or you can apply the paste wax mentioned below. Please read all directions on the product labeling.

Staining Materials List

  • Ampersand DEEP cradle panels
  • Sanding block or handheld electric sander
  • Soft cotton rags and brush
  • Oil-based wood stain (color of choice)
  • or Water-based wood stain of choice
  • Varnish or lacquer (optional)

Applying paste wax for a furniture finish

If you like the look of the birch plywood, you might like to try waxing the sides for a furniture type finish. It’s very easy to do and makes for a clean presentation. Start by sanding the cradle with either a sanding block or handheld electric sander to remove any paint, loose wood fibers or uneven places (fig. 9). Clean the edges with a damp rag to remove any dust. For this demonstration, we used Minwax® paste finishing wax. Please read all directions on product labeling. Then, apply paste wax with a soft cloth and rub into the wood thoroughly (fig. 11). Allow the wax to dry for about 15 minutes. Buff with a soft cloth to shine (fig. 12). For a high gloss finish, apply a second coat and buff to the desired level of shine.

Waxing Materials List

  • Ampersand DEEP Cradle panels
  • Sanding block or handheld electric sander
  • Soft cotton rags
  • Minwax finishing paste wax

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