I recently got a set of Frame-lok, the new product designed to keep the corners of your stretcher bars straight. I tested them out on my current project. The good news is that they do a good job of keeing corners true. The bad news is that there are some limitations.
Frame-lok is sold in sets of four that come in a reusable, but lightweight, plastic case. They come in assorted colors. Most listings I have seen for them do not allow you to choose colors.
The brackets are L-shape with holes and indentations at either end. A stabilizing bar runs from side to side diagonally. It’s this bar that does the work of keeping the corner in place. Because frame-lok is rigid, it will not allow you to flex the frame out of true.
The amount of this that happens for each stitcher depends both on how you stitch and on how you hold your needlepoint. This is more of a problem for some than for others. The corners are just under 5/8 inch wide. This makes them slightly wider than mini stretcher bars (which are 1/2 inch wide). This means that they will stick out slightly on the back of your frame. I found this to be distracting, you might not.This problem does not exist with regular bars. They should not be used with Ever-tite bars because the tightening mechanism on these bars needs the corners not to be fixed in place. You also cannot use these on any kind of roller frame or scroll bars.
The corners attach to your stretcher bars by using tacks, that’s what the holes and intendations are for. I found when testing them that they needed to be added as you assemble your frame. To do this assemble a corner of your frane. Place a frame-lok corner into the corner of the frame. Holding it in the corner, add one thumbtack, then the other. The frame-lok should rest securely in the corner. Continue to assemble the frame, adding the corners as you go. As an alternative you can add all the corners after the frame is assembled but before the canvas is attached.
Thumbtcks with longer pins will make the corners easier to attach.
This works better than adding the corners after the needlepoint is on the frame. Although i thought the frame was true, it wa a little bit off in each corner, enough so that the frame-lok corners would not fit snugly into the frame’s corners.
Considering the ease of installation and the use of fram4-loks I would say they are an excellent tool to have if you use standard stretcher bars. Although the edges are rounded, the mismatch in width makes them less useful for those using mini stretcher bars.