I first learned how to build screens when I did a brief internship at Peach Berserk for school, and was blown away at how little money and effort is required to do so. It’s a pretty simple process, only takes about 5 minutes, and is crazy cheap compared to buying a pre-assembled Speedball screen. While store-bought screens are definitely worth it for occasional usage (mine were exactly what I needed for 8 years!), if you’re going to be doing a lot of printing you should know how to make the screen yourself. It will save you so much money.
You will need:
- screen mesh
- a sturdy frame
- staple gun
- duct tape (optional)
- Pick your frame! You can use just about anything that’s strong and rectangular, up to and including making your own. Stretchers work perfectly because you can pick exactly what size you want, and they don’t cost much. I’d recommend adding a bit of glue to the corners when you assemble them, so they don’t slip around in the stretching process.
- Cut your mesh to size. Ideally, you want 2″ more than the open area of your frame.
- Start by folding one edge over ½”, and stapling one corner down. Grab the other corner of the same edge, stretch as far as you can without ripping the mesh from the first, and staple it down. Fill in the space with more staples about 2″ apart.
- Repeat for another corner-sharing edge.
- Grab your free corner, pull as much as you can without tearing, and staple it down.
- Put down a strip of mesh the length of the frame side you’re on, pull at the edge of the screen mesh and staple staple staple! Making sure to re-grab and pull for every one.
- Repeat for remaining edge.
- Trim any excess mesh.
- (Optional) Tape around all the edges. This will help prevent wear around the staples, and stop the exposed raw edges from fraying like crazy when you put the finished product to use.
See how easy that is!? I made 4 screens in 20 minutes, including time spent building two frames. Total cost (since I already had 2 of the frames): 18$. With enough mesh left over for another 4. Compared to the average 20$ for one 10″ x 14″ Speedball screen. DIY never felt so good.
Now you just need to grab a stencil and get to printing!