Friday, October 18, 2013

Make Your Own Quality Screen Printing Frames For Cheap

To make your own screen printing frames, you’ll need a few items:
  • Wood Glue
  • Staple Gun
  • .125” diameter Screen Door Spline
  • Screen Door Spline Tool
  • At least two clamps
  • Silkscreen Mesh
  • Balusters
Screen Door Spline
Screen Door Spline Tool
Wood Balusters
Finished Silkscreen Frame
Tools and complete silkscreen frame without mesh

To begin with, the most vital pieces are the balusters. They are the four sides of your silkscreen frame. If you look at the diagram illustration, they are 1 1/8”x1 1/8” pieces of wood with 45 degree cuts at the sides, and a .5” cut 1/8” wide down the middle of the baluster. If you have some carpentry tools, these can easily be made for very cheap. If not, you can buy the balusters at Blick Art Studio. Blick Balusters are also cheaper than buying a premade frame, but making your own is ideal. Remember when making them that you need the top and bottom the same size baluster and the left and right side also need to be the same size.
Put the four sides together to see how they will fit, and then take wood glue and join one corner. Then use a clamp to hold them tightly together over night. You should have two pieces left, I suggest joining these with glue and a clamp too. You will have two separate L shapes now drying overnight. The next day take the two Ls and join the last two corners with glue and clamps so it creates a square frame. Let that dry overnight again. Finally take a staple gun and staple the seams on both sides of the frame for extra sturdiness. Be sure not to cover the cord groove with a staple.

Now that you have a frame you will need to attach the mesh. I suggest buying .125” screen door spline from a hardware store, and a screen door spline applicator. They should both be at the same place in the hardware store. The tool looks like a pizza cutter. Then you need to lay your silkscreen mesh on top of the screen and cut it with about an 1” extra on each side. From here, I suggest using clamps to hold the mesh against the frame on the opposite end you’ll be working with, and gently push the screen door cord into the first corner of the frame’s groove and work your first side down. Just push enough in so it won’t come out. Keep working around your screen until the cord is completely in and cut the cord to keep the rest for another screen. Then take the applicator and push the cord all the way in. This will really tighten the mesh against the frame. You want your mesh as taught as possible. At this point, you should have some extra mesh hanging out, just trim it down. Your screen just needs a washing with water and dish soap, and left to air dry after towel drying. This removed any manufacturing oils from the screen that won’t react well with your emulsion.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me! jesse.acosta@gmail.com


After gluing one pair of balusters, use clamps to keep them tightly together as they dry.
Align your balusters before gluing to see how you will glue it.

If you choose to cut your own wood balusters, these are the dimensions.


Clamp the mesh against the screen to start attaching the mesh.
Begin rolling from one corner with the tool, but don't push too tightly.
The corners are the hardest part.
Now that you are all the way around, cut the cord, and push it all the way in.
Now that the cord is all the way in and the screen is tight, cut the excess mesh.

A complete silkscreen frame with mesh. Just needs to have the mesh trimmed on the edges.

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