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-   -   Screen Frame Construction Tips? (http://www.avsforum.com/forum/23-screens/19891-screen-frame-construction-tips.html)

dhanson 08-15-2001 01:51 AM

Today I picked up the material to build my own screen. From Fabricland I picked 3 yards of 'blackout' fabric, 54" wide, and some matte black cloth. Then I went to Home Depot and picked up two 8' fir 1 x 4's, two 6' fir 1 x 4's, and a couple of fir 1 x 2's. I also bought some metal angles for tying the corners together.

My original plan was to cut and mitre the wood to make a frame with interior dimensions of 92 x 52, then staple the black matte cloth around the frame members, so you wind up with a hollow black rectangle. Then the blackout material would be stapled to the back of the frame, so that when it's hung on the wall the cloth would be between the wall and the frame, and you'd be looking through the frame at the screen, with the frame acting as a fixed mask.

Now, the problem is that this setup doesn't allow you to put supports in the middle of the frame, and I have my doubts about the rigidity of this.

The other option is to wrap the screen fabric around the front of of the frame and staple it in back, like an artist's canvas. But then masking becomes a problem. How do you do a neat job of adding the black fabric around the edges?

The third option would be to build the frame and build an inner frame in that with the supports. Put the fabric on the ground face down, put the small frame on the back of it, Pull the cloth tight and staple, then fit the big frame with the black cloth around that whole assembly.

Any thoughts or hints on the best way to build this thing?

sstieferman 08-15-2001 01:47 PM


I used 2x3"x8' long deck handrails. I think your going to need some additional support over the 1x wood. Here's how I put my screen together almost a two years ago...

Personally, if i was going to make another screen, I would build the structure of 2x material with 1/4" routed channels that will accept a solid piece of metal that would completely cirlce the screen. The screen material would completely cover the frame and metal inlay's on the wood. I would then build four separate velvet panels that would allow me to mask the "screen" to the appropiate size using magnets that would stick to the metal tracks inlayed into the wood. Hope this helps...


ckolchak 08-15-2001 09:15 PM

i went with your 3rd option...sort of.

i stretched my screen, similar to an artists canvas, but much simpler, and was able to get a much much tighter surface.

i put a few screws in the wall and then hung this canvas up just like a picture

then with 2x4's and 1x2's i built a frame around this .
the 2x4's stand up, floor to ceiling, with some small (1' long) 'boots' also made of 2x4 attached at the bottom going away from the screen ( think of a L shape, with the left side having a backwards L)
then i screwed the 1x2's going across
1-at the very top near the cieling
2-an inch or two below the edge of the top of my screen
3-an inch or two above the bottom edge of the screen

from beams 1 and 2 i wrapped/stapled some black velvet so that the velvet masks or borders above the screen
for the lower beam i just stapled the velvet and let it fall loose to the floor.

sounds more complex than it is, and it looks pretty damn nice for the minor amount of money invested.

additionally, that 2nd beam ( at the top of the screen edge) will act as part of a track for me to use lack velvet on panels to move in for various aspect ratios

if i had a digital camera i'd take some pics as i'm pretty proud of how its turned out so far.

dhanson 08-16-2001 11:53 AM

Thanks guys. I've come up with a slightly different method. Last night I mitered the 1 x 4 fir pieces, and stapled fabric around them. I now have four pieces of what looks like big picture frame rails covered in black cloth.

Tonight, they get bolted together with large L brackets. Then I'm going to test it for strength and trueness. If it looks like it's strong and straight enough, then I'll stretch the blackout cloth across the back and I'm done. If not, I'll go and buy some 1/16 mdf or ply, then stretch the screen on staple it, then make sure the frame is straight and nail the solid back on, making a sandwich consisting of the frame, then the screen, then the backing. This will prevent any warping, twisting, or bowing, and also will protect the back of the screen from damage while moving it, hanging it, etc.

I'll let you all know how it turns out, and I'll try to take some pictures of it as well.

dhanson 08-17-2001 12:06 PM

I just wanted to let you guys know that my screen project turned out PERFECT. I now have a professional-looking 90 x 50 screen with a 4" black border around it.

Stretching the screen fabric turned out to be a lot easier than I thought. I started by stretching the middle and stapling it, then stretching the middle on the sides and stapling it (leaving a sort of 'diamond' shape in the cloth). Then I worked out to the corners a few inches at a time, going around the frame, until I hit the corners. I only had to stretch the material about 1" in each direction, so the frame isn't under much tension, but the fabric itself is tight as a drum.

As I stretched the cloth, I stapled it and held the tension while I hammered down the staple. Otherwise, the force of the tension on the staple would be applied just to the two prongs of the staple, and I was afraid of tearing. By hammering the staple in flat, the force is distributed over the whole staple.

I didn't bother with any sort of support pieces or backing on the frame. The 1 x 4 fir framing members are much stronger than they need to be for this amount of tension. The frame will twist easily when not mounted on the wall, but I'm confident that once mounted it won't sag or bow in.

I took some pictures with my digital camcorder in 'camera' mode of the screen at various stages of completion, and I'll post them as soon as I get a chance to get them out of the camera and into my computer.

For the next stage of my project, I plan to build a screen wall with a gap in the center exactly the size of my frame. Then I'll put some blocking pieces inset 1" back around the perimeter of the hole, so that the screen can be set in place and flush-mounted. Screws will then go through the frame and into the blocking behind it. I'll probably use 8 screws, one for each corner and one in the middle of each side. Then if I ever need access to the back of the screen wall to get at wiring or the flush-mounted center speaker, I can just unscrew the screen and remove it.

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