Instructions for a Cheap, Fast, Easy, and Pretty Darn Good, Shadow Box Fixed Screen:
Note: this is for a smaller screen, or a screen that you can find a constant swab of fabric for without seams. It may also be used with a canvas and paint, but that part is not covered in this descritpion. Sorry for the lenght and simplicity in writing step by step, but I got going on it and couldn't stop. This worked great for me and I get compliments on it all the time.
This is a fixed screen that will not move. It has two frames in its construction: a Screen Frame for mounting the screen material and a slightly larger Masking Frame for mounting the blackout material.
The Screen Frame is a solid frame of 4 sides meating at a 45 degree cuts (just like a picture frame) and held together with "L" mounting brackets on the backside.
The Masking Frame also meets at 45 degree cuts, but is kept as 4 seperate peices until final assembly where it is screwed to the Screen Frame through the backside of the Screen Frame as so no screws will be seen in the masking material.
Figure out your screen size/aspect ratio based upon seating distances, projector capabilities, resolution being shown.
Figure out size of material needed to cover screen viewing area, allow for plenty of overlap on all four sides.
1. Buy "n", "x" ft., 1x4s of striaght good quality.
2. Buy "AxB" sheet of Blackout drapery Material from a fabric store.
3. Buy some Black Velour material (for masking) from the same fabric strore. Will probably get stuck with buying more than you need because of how it is sold at the store.
4. Buy 3/4" and 1" long wood screws and washers.
5. Buy Spray Glue, 3M for wood.
6. Buy Staple gun and staples.
7. Buy some type of wood cutting device or find a friend that has one, get a stanely knife as well and drill with a philips head bit. Level
8. Buy some 2-3/4 in screws with washers for mountng to wall.
Layout the Screen Frame (measure/mark it) so that your desired viewing area size is marked on each board. Cut a 45 degree angle away from that mark so that you get a short side (same as desired screen size) and a long side (roughly 3.5 in. longer than desired screen size when using a 1x4 board). Reapeat this step three more times and use measurements, do not just lay the previously cut board on top of a blank board and trace it for cutting. Make sure to check all angles.
Repeat above for Masking Frame, except make all the measurements 1 in. longer from center of board (2 in. overall length, 1 in. on each side). This will create a 1 in. overlap lip of the Masking Frame over the Screen Frame.
Cut strips of black Velour material (roughly 8.5 in. wide if using 1x4's and leave plenty of extra on the ends). Wrap each Masking Frame board in the Velour by laying the board on the material, spray some glue on the back of the board that is now facing you (use just a little all over, do not pool it up or overspray deriectly onto the Velour). After it is tacky, pull one side of the Velour over and staple it. The glue will keep the material from pulling through the staples when you continue to stretch the Velour over the board and staple it. No need ot stretch much, just wrap it and make sure there are no wrinkles. Try not to bunch too much up or overlap as that will make the back of the Masking board uneven. As for the corners, your on your own because they are a bi$# to fold. It IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU MAKE THE CORNERS AS SMOOTH/FLAT AS POSSIBLE so that they match up to each other later. Repeat three more times. Only spray glue the back side of the boards.
Layout the Screen Frame corner to corner. Use 3/4" wood screws with washers and "L" frame on each corner so that you end up with a rectangular sturdy "square" frame. Make sure the frame is "square" (I mean the diagonal measurements are the same so that it is not lopsided).
Make sure floor is clean and Blackout Fabric has little to no wrinkles. Lay Blackout Material fabric side down/rubberized side up on the floor and place Screen Frame on it, metal "L" brackets facing up. Begin at one of the long ends and bend the Fabric up over the bottom of the Frame back in the oppostite direction. Staple the hell out of this piece all along the length of the Frame piece. Start in the middle and work toward the ends rubbing out any wrinkles while you staple. Leave corners open.
Now that you have one long side done, slide the frame around so that the completed side is tight up against a wall and the undone long end is next to you (you are facing the wall with the frame between you and it). Bend the fabric over the Frame so that it is laying on top of th board. Now PUSH/PULL THE FABRIC TOWARDS THE WALL HARD. This will in turn push the Frame against the wall so that you can stretch the fabric. Working from center to end, staple the hell out of the board. Do not put the staples on top of each other, but close and in different angles as you go. You will find that the material will stretch a bit and when you are done there will be taught parts of the screen.
Now do the same thing to the shorter sides, this will get rid of the taught parts of the screen and give you a nice flat, tight screen that looks impressive. It will seem that the material itself could hold your frame together without the "L" brackets. Finally cut the corners so that they cover the frame corners but do not bunch up.
Layout the 4 Masking boards on the floor, crapy face up. Place a swatch of Velour material over each area where the corners meet so in the end, if the corners do not match perfectly, you will not be able to see the white screen or wall through the remaining crack (hopefully this will not be a problem). Now it gets a bit tricky. Try duct taping the 4 corners together making sure to not to place the tape where it could possible be seen later. This will help keep the frame boards from sliding around when assembling. Place the completed Screen Frame on top of the psuedo assembled Masking Frame, Fabric down (we are building the screen opposite of how you will see it in the end). Slide it around until you obtain roughly 1 in. of a lip on all sides of the Screen Frame when compared to the Masking Frame.
Take your 1" long wood screws with washers and begin screwing the center of each Screen Frame board straight through into the Masking Board. Using the washers will hopefully help sink the Blackout Material fabric into the wood instead of making those staples hold all the tension. Continue along until each board is complete, stopping occasionally to make sure eveything is still "square" between the Masking Frame and the Screen Frame and that the Masking boards' corners are still matching up tight. Put the screws about every 6 in.
If you want, place string light (make sure it is UL Listed and not a copy, sorry shameless plug) around the Screen Frame and behing the Masking Frame 1 in. lip. This can give a cool back glow to the screen against the wall, if desired. I have not yet done this.
Mounting screen to wall. I figured this was going to be the hardest, then had a very simple idea that worked great. Get some of the scrap 1x4 pieces and mount them to studs on the wall with the tops being roughly 1 in. lower than where you want the top of the viewable screen. Simply Hang the finshed screen on these mounts. If you use straight 1x4s, the screen should lay flat on the wall. Check for levelness and shim the screen mounting brackets according.
Screen cost me roughly 50 bucks and looks good!
Well that was way longer than I expected. It looks damn good though. Small 68x38 in. screen sitting about 108 in. away running an ECP-3500 at 800x600@72Hz. res. through a HTPC. Have fun!!
Overlap of fabric does not need to exceed over the 1x4 when being wrapped over it.