Wiring Heavy Paintings
February 5, 2006 10:19 PM   Subscribe

How do I wire heavy paintings for hanging with thick, braided wire?

I have about forty heavy paintings to wire, and am encountering a problem with twisting the heavy braided wire that was recommended by the all-knowing frame shop guy. I've attached the hooks to the backs of the canvases, then I thread the wire through and twist it back onto itself to secure it. But as this wire is so thick, it doesn't seem to grip itself and loosens when the paintings are hung on the wall and the weight pulls on the wire. It's like the twist unravels. Man, this is hard to explain.

So the real question is: how do I knot or twist braided wire so that it stays secure? Any fellow painters/framers out there who know about this?
posted by wetpaint to Grab Bag (8 answers total)
Best answer: How heavy are the paintings, what size, etc? Also, how much wire are you using? Did you tell the all-knowing frame shop guy these things? There are different gauges of braided wire, rated for different hanging weights.

The technique I use is to measure and cut the hanging wire to approximately twice the length of the painting. Then (I assume when you say "hooks" you mean "eyes") thread 2/3rds of the wire through the first eye. Tightly twist the remaining 3rd back on itself, as you describe in your initial design... then, when you have between 3 and 6 inches of wire remaining, wrap it tightly and double back toward the eye you're securing from.

Next, you'll want to do the same thing with the other eye. An optional step involves using pliers too pull the wire taut after threading. This assumes well-secured eyes on a high quality frame, as you don't want your wood to split on you.

Does that make sense? Let me know if there's anything I'm being unclear on... this sort of thing is easier to show someone than to write about.

In any case, with heavy pieces you can assume that the hang might "settle" a little, but no more than a centimeter or so at the very most.
posted by drumcorpse at 11:04 PM on February 5, 2006

Make two passes through the eyes before you start twisting, and finish by securing the ends of the twists with duct tape, or twist ties, or both.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:10 PM on February 5, 2006

Best answer: You can try after feeding the wire through the hook and folding it back to wrap it a few turns then "open" the wire. Split the wire into two then wrap those two groups of braid in opposite directions. That should keep the wire from coming undone.
How big (size and weight) are the paintings? It is possible for oversized and overweight painting to twist the frame from a 2 hook single wire setup. Plus they can be a hassle to hang.
You could put a proper weight rated "D-ring" on the back of each side. Just be sure they are same length from top so it hangs level.
You could also try 6 eye-hooks and a single wire. 2 hooks on top, 2 hooks on bottom, 1 hook left and right. Then start wire Bottom Left > Top Left > Left > Right > Top Right > Bottom Right and tie off, work wire taut. When going from side to side run wire "behind" the vertical wires. When hung the wire will distribute weight better.
posted by sailormouth at 11:16 PM on February 5, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you!! This is all so helpful, and yes, drumcorpse, you are being clear. You're right, this is hard to explain in writing. The paintings vary greatly in size, but my largest is 6 feet by 6 feet. Many are irregularly sized, like 12" by 60", and many are around 36"x48". They are all unframed on those "gallerywrap" canvases, the ones that are stretched over wooden stretcher bars that are two inches thick. I'd guess that the heaviest piece weighs in at about 30 pounds.
I do have very well-secured eyes fixed to the stretchers (they are heavy-duty and take two screws on each side -- that is, each piece of hardware that has a hole to thread wire through is secured to the wood by two screws.)
I will definitely try doubling back the wire, and also splitting it, and if that doesn't work I'll try the duct tape. I may use sailormouth's more complicated technique on the largest pieces, though I wonder: if they weigh less than 30 pounds, is that overkill?
Thank you all so much for sharing your knowledge. This was my first MeFi post, and I got exactly what I needed in a matter of hours, after searching the net with no luck at all...pretty cool!
posted by wetpaint at 12:52 AM on February 6, 2006

Best answer: Hi wetpaint. My wife and I own a picture framing store, and it's true, if you have the correct stranded wire, all you need to do is multiple wraps of the wire around itself.

I took down the largest mirror we have hanging in the house, it's probably 30-35 pounds, and shot a detailed picture

I also added a pic of the wall hanging hardware we recommend for heavy items. It's pretty much a standard picture hanging hook, with 3 'nails' that go into your drywall at an angle. They are very secure and you don't need to drill gigantic holes to hang a normal drywall hook. I pulled one of the nails out a bit so you can get a better look at it. For this particular mirror, we use 2 of these hangars, but IMHO they are still better because they mark the wall alot less when removed.

posted by whoda at 5:25 AM on February 6, 2006

One trick I do is to carefully measure where I place the eyes ( usually 4 in from the top of the stretcher), and try to make sure the " play" in the wire is the same for all the pieces. That way it's much easier to hang the paintings in a level row.
/ 2 cents
posted by lobstah at 5:25 AM on February 6, 2006

This is pretty much settled, but I like to get the wiring done and "wrapped" on the hooks before I screw them into the wood on the frame. For me it's easier, tighter, and looks better.
posted by deep_sea_diving_suit at 7:59 AM on February 6, 2006

Response by poster: They're all best answers!! Thanks to everyone, and that pic is super helpful, whoda.
posted by wetpaint at 10:57 AM on February 6, 2006

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