We have many folks tuned in here running the gamut from hobbyist to small or even mid size businesses.
I really do understand the issues from both ends.
I appreciate Dan's comments. I sold 33 canvas prints in the last 12 months from 10" to 36" but still i'm more hobbyist than professional, for sure. So the issue for me is how to get by most efficiently with the minimum of outlay and space.
I have the old standard Fredrix pliers and its all i've been using up till now. Ordered and received the Quickmate manufactured by Tabmaster in UK, also being sold by Gilderspaste.com in the UShttp://www.gilderspaste.com/cgi-bin/shopper.exe?preadd=action&key=qmcsqmcs-o&reference=/cg
My first attempt with the Quickmate was on a 30" canvas, and resulted in the long bar shifting inwards 1/4" (no stiffener) and was saved only by pulling 5 staples, correcting the bar position, and finishing it by hand.
I don't want to use stiffeners for the 30" canvas i normally do, so i came up with this solution: I put 3 staples in each of the short bars, then assembled the Quickmate to pull the long bars. With a balanced load like that, no shifting of stretcherbars occurred and no stiffeners required. My 2nd attempt with the Quickmate was a success with the new technique.
There are now 3 versions of the Quickmate, which run from about 300 to 400 USD. They are well built with one weakness. The truckers strap ratchet which is used to power the Quickmate, is sort of cumbersome when used to assemble a fine art canvas, compared to holding down a trucker's load :-) First of all, it needs finer ratchet teeth so the steps in pressure aren't so great, and secondly, it doesn't unload smoothly and seems to require a struggle on my part. I may try to take it apart and do some filing here and there to get it to work smoothly. And may shorten the spring a bit as its too strong now. If i can refine the cumbersome ratchet a bit, then i will be very happy using it on the longer canvases i do.
I don't have one, but i suspect that people are right to stick with the BC/Pit Bull type of pliers. My only concern over them, is that they seem to require about 3" of canvas wrap for grip and leverage. The Quickmate will work with as little as 2" of canvas wrap. I would appreciate anyone commenting on the amount of canvas wrap needed for the Pit Bull pliers to work.