Hey, I was wondering if anyone out there could give me some advice on the best way to stretch screen mesh onto wood frames. I don't like the idea of frame glue, so I would be using stapless. Just not sure about using staple tape, blockout tape, etc. If this has already been discussed, please point me in the right direcection to that forum. Any help on the best way to do this would be great---
I've made some ghetto screens outta wood, mesh, staples, and newspaper straps.
Get a buddy/friend, stretch your screen over the frame, your both going to need to stretch this across hella tight, your fingers will be soar. Im not sure if there is a easier way or tool to stretch the screen across the frame. Anyways, you know when newspaper bundles show up at stores, they are wraped with those plastic straps, get some of those, lay it down over the screen and staple it down thru the mesh into the screen. Ive placed the mesh flat, ive wrapped it around the screen, etc... i find it holds best when you wrap it around ans staple inside the frame, make sence? run on sentences? too bad im drunk!
However, ive yet to stretch a screen with staples that I could use for poster printing, its just not tight enough for me, shirts, it worked fine.
Sorta on topic: does anyone have plans on how to make a "stretch" table from scratch, so that I could stretch my own screens? A friend in the industry, whos job is to stretch screens all day tried to explain it to me before... you get some sorta roller on each end of the table with mesh on it, one end locks up and you tighten it up, then you use a vise on each other side of the screen to tighten it up.. but I never fully understood. He told me to get a case of beer and he would come over and give me a crash course. Perhaps I will document it and post.
Once, we took a older large screen with a small tear in it, made a smaller wood frame, covered it in glue, and placed it within the larger screen, since the large screen still maintained its tension, it worked well, glue dried, cut it out, done deal.
A while ago I thought it would be a good idea to try and replicate those speedball cord-stretched frames, so I went to this wood store w/ in-house carpenter and got them to make me a fair amount of "frame material", meaning 1" x 1" pieces of wood with a simple groove cut in to them. I'd cut the ends at 45 degree angles, bolt these together with brackets, and use window-screen cord and a spline roller to stretch the mesh. Big problems, which could have been slightly mitigated with some more refined method of stretching or a different kind of cord, maybe... but it wouldn't have been worth it. The mesh tension didn't hold, and every time I'd reclaim at the car-wash I'd have to re-stretch 'cause the mesh would usually pop out.
All this cord nonsense was sort of a waste of time, but it didn't cost me so much money. Besides, I'm still mostly a HOBBYIST anyway. Perhaps if I'd gone the stapling/gluing route I'd have stayed with wood frames for a little longer? Wood feels nice I suppose, but I was SO HAPPY when I got my first pre-made aluminum-framed screen!
when i do mine, i start out stapling along one edge, with the mesh wrapped around a block of wood to stretch it. much easier than using your fingers. plus, you get a little mor even of a stretch. i don't bother with any glue, just a lot of staples on a 2x2 pressure treated frame.
If you want a cheap screen stretcher for your wood frames, get a retentionable metal frame that will fit over your wood frame. Then you can stretch the mesh nice and tight, get some frame adhesive (they have a special glue for this, get from your screen supply store) lay the stretched frame over your wood one so it presses tight, glue , cut away when dry.
If you are using cord in groove, once it is tight, glue it in place.
Do yourself a real favour, make your printing 100% easier, get them pre-stretched - for smaller stuff, Irish Graphics in Oregon, they're cheap. Or, a couple of retentionables - used they are cheap, takes five minutes and you are printing on a screen 10 times tighter than you could ever do with staples. No glue required, just a couple of wrenches.
everybody has their own technique and there's a few that work better than others. i've had really good success with my hand made screen using cheap ass materials.
get some 2x2 pine boards (should cost you about 2-3 a board) . get someone with a table saw to cut some narrow grooves in the boards. get some sash cord or window screen cord (the sash cord is more complicated and doesn't work as well so get window screen cord if you can). build your frame (take about an hour with the right tools. get a back saw and a mitre box if you don't have one.( it will cost you between 20$-30$ and you won't regret it). sand the inside corners of your grooves so they won't cut your screen mesh. varnish the lil guy up and let him dry over night.
wake up . have coffee. then cut your screen slightly over size. the mesh should hang slightly over the edge of your frame and sag in the middle so that it just barely touches the ground. pin the mesh to the outer edge of the frame with push pins. get a hammer and a blunt object like a screwdriver or a chisel that fits into the grooves easily. the blunter the better. layout the screen cord so that it goes all the way around the frame. leave a bit extra for where it pulls tight at the corners. make sure the ends meet at the middle of a secton and not the corners. take the hammer and blunt object and gently hammer the cord into the frame. do it in two passes. the first one sets the cord in the frame and the second one tightens it up. be careful not to rip the mesh when you are hammering. try to aim towards the outside of the frame so if you do fuck up it won't matter too much. also don't feel like you have to hammer the cord all the way to the back of the groove. just do it until the screen is tight. if you leave some space at the back of the groove then you can tighten up your screens as they loosen with age. when you finish and your screen is nice and tight, pull out the pins and cut away the excess mesh. voila. nice new screens.
net cost for the frames - about 4 bucks
screen mesh will cost what it costs
time it takes is about two hours not counting time for glue and varnish to dry. it also take less time if you do a bunch at once.
i did one 20x30 and a 12x18 over the course of one week end for about 28$ including everything