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Alternative to Gator Board
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Alternative to Gator Board

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I have been investigating the availability of Gator Board, which is readily available in the US but not here in the UK. This board is very handy for stretching watercolour paper using the stapling method. The only outlet I can find that supply Gator Board is Jackson’s Art Supplies, however it is not cheap!

I decided to see if I could find an alternative board that was readily available, inexpensive to purchase and that would allow wet paper to be stapled to it for stretching without the board warping during the drying process.

Firstly I tried a couple of the so called "Foam Boards" but as they are not coated top and bottom with a wood veneer they weren’t successful at all and they were very expensive options.

Sundeala Board

Next I turned my attention to a board that is made from used newspaper and cellulose called "Sundeala Pinboard". This is primarily produced to be used as pin boards on the wall which is what attracted me to it. In the US they call this board "Homasote Board" however the US version is a slightly different construction to Sundeala Board. Although this board worked well, is readily available and held the staples during the paper drying time, it isn't rigid enough to stop the paper warping the board! It's also a very expensive option to use, a small piece measuring 60cm x 30cm costs around £20.00.

Oriented Strand Board (OSB)

However I have now experimented with Oriented Strand Board (OSB). It is a type of engineered wood similar to particle board. It is formed by adding adhesives and then compressing layers of wood strands in specific orientations. This board is quite dense and I was able to find an off-cut at my local hardware store that I purchased for £2.00 to enable me to try it out.

I think that this board is probably the answer as it ticks all of the boxes as far as requirements go and most importantly it is much cheaper to buy. It is readily available at most hardware stores that stock  and sell wood. Here in the UK B&Q sell it in 810mm x 410mm x 9mm for just over £7.00 and this is large enough to make two 1/4 imperial sized stretching boards.