Learning how to create your own frame will not only give you a host of projects to work on at the same time, but will allow you to save your screens for future projects.
Making your screen printing frame is easy and soon you’ll have a collection of DIY screen printing frames is easy. All you need are a few tools and a choice of frame material and you’ll have your frame in two hours.
You can choose to buy your frames or create them from scratch. Creating frames allows you to customize them to suit your projects and lowers costs. It also allows you to create as many as your desire and increases the longevity of your frame if done correctly since all you’ll need is to replace the mesh. Regardless of whether you buy or create, your frame must be constructed from high-quality materials and properly built for high-quality results.
This tutorial will walk you through how to create both wooden and aluminum frames which are the most popular choices due to the cost-effectiveness of wood and the lightweight strength of aluminum. It will also show you how to assemble your screen from a pre-made frame.
If you’re a beginner whose never cut wood before, it’s best to work with a professional with experience so that they can help you understand how to safely handle the equipment. You can get the woodcut to your specifications at the home improvement store.
Below is a list of materials you’ll need to complete this tutorial on how to make a screen for screen printing.
Wood Frame or Aluminum Frame
Wood or Aluminum is the best material to create your frame. They are easy to work with and have several advantages such as being low cost, is easily cut to any size. You’ll have to know ahead of time how large of an image you want to print before you cut your frames.
If you prefer a ready-made frame, you can find these at your local arts and crafts stores. They come in different sizes, it’s best to pick one that is larger than your image.
Stretcher Canvas or Screen Printing Mesh and Window Spline
This is the mesh that makes up the face of your frame. You can buy this at your local arts and crafts stores. The canvas is usually cheap stretchy canvas. You want a canvas that stretches tightly to avoid creases and wrinkles on your final design. The mesh will slightly crease as you push and pull the scooper or squeegee around its surface so you want it to have minimal slack, otherwise, you’ll have a blurry final image.
You can buy screen printing meshes on amazon or a home improvement store. A window spline can be bought online.
Stapler or Glue
You will need these to attach your mesh to your frame, for a secure hold. If you are using an Aluminum frame, you’ll use glue to ensure the mesh tightly adheres to the frame.
This can be used to seal the perimeter of your frame and ensure ink doesn’t sip out or overflow your frame. Painter’s tape is a better option than duct tape because it is a craft tape that has a matte finish making it resistance to sips.
These will be used to secure your frame. You’ll need approximately 1/4 inch crown staples which you will staple into the corners of your frame to join the parts to form a square. You can skip these is you have a ready-made frame.
Now that you have all your supplies, we’ll start constructing the screen printing frame and leveling up your DIY cred.
How To Make Screen For Screen Printing with Pre-Made Frames
If you choose to go with the pre-made frames you’ll be working with wood or aluminum. The frames are usually complete in their construction so they cannot be tweaked without causing damage. Take your frame and makes sure it is firm and steady, you’ll be applying pressure to the surface, so it should stay together.
Clean your frame so it is free of any dust, oil or dirt that could transfer onto the emulsion and create pinholes.
Take the mesh you bought and stretch it over your frame, make sure it is smoothed out without creases and wrinkles. Some fabric might overflow, we’ll deal with it at the end.
Glue the Fabric
Keeping it tightly spread, glue the fabric onto the frame one side at a time until you have covered the entire frame.
Take a ruler or a straight edge and place it on your fabric, with the fabric laid over the frame. Draw a line around the perimeter of the underside of the fabric showing were you will apply the glue. Proceed to apply the glue along this line.
If you are using a wood frame, you can drill screws along where the fabric and frame meet to properly secure the mesh.
Clean Your Frame
Always clean your screen before and after projects. Keep a clean screen maintains it’s integrity and helps you avoid pinholes and marks that ruin a final image.
You screen should be free from oil, dust and dirt. This can be accomplished by using a degreaser that will dissolve any dirt and keep your screen in top condition.
Spray the degreaser onto every part of your screen and allow it to sit for a few minutes, check the brand instructions for precise details. After 2-4 minutes, place your screen over a sink and gently scrub it with a scrubbing pad, then rinse it under cool water until all the cleaning agent is removed.
Hang your frame to dry in a cool dry room with great airflow. Depending on your location, you can add a fan if you live in a dry hot climate or a dehumidifier if you are in a moist climate. Make sure your studio or workspace is clean and free of dust, dirt and debris. Remember, even a small speck of dust, dirt or oil smudge will cause an impression on your screen which will transfer to the final image and ruin it, so a clean studio is imperative.
If you decide to make a screen from scratch, you can follow the tutorial below.
- Table Saw
- Window Spline
How To Make Wooden Screen Frames Without Fabric
Find Some Wood
If you decide to make your screen from scratch the first thing you’ll need is to find some wood for your wooden screen frames without fabric. This wood can come from anything such as old picture frames, wood from arts and crafts stores or home improvement stores.
The wood has to be high quality wood that is not damaged. It ought to be sturdy and withstand the pressure you’ll apply to it when coating the screen with emulsion or ink. To be safe, make sure the wood has no splinters or chipped parts which could cause injuries. You can also buy some wood from the store and cut it yourself. Buy some extra planks just in case you need to rework the cutting.
Cutting Your Wood
It’s important that you only cut your wood if you are comfortable working with a table saw. Otherwise you can have it cut at the store according to your specifications.
To cut your wood, take a 1×3 piece of wood and crosscut down its length, pulling it opened in half. Next, cut through the offcut a second time to ensure both sides are equal in width. Set up your feather board. Mark the half-length of each piece and cut along it. If you have a window screen spline, you’ll insert it here to hold the screen in place. Cut 45s at the ends of the pieces.
Test Your Frame
Once your frame is glued together, gently test it. Make sure the pieces are firmly held together and it does not break when applying slight pressure or tug the pieces.
If it breaks, clean up and start over with some high-quality wood.
Clean your frame any dust, oil or dirt that could transfer onto the emulsion and create pinholes. You can use a duster or some warm soapy water if you have a finisher on the frame. If using a duster make sure you do not have any dirt and only dust. Take a clean cloth and deep it into the warm soapy water, remove the excess water and gently wipe your frame.
And now you are ready to assemble.
Assemble Your Frame
Use enough wood glue on the miters to hold the pieces together. Then staple 1/4 inch crown staples into each of the corners on both sides to ensure it is held together until the glue has dried.
An easy way to insert the spline would be with the traditional tool used to insert it into a window. You can simply insert and you are done.
Installing the mesh requires you to lay it over the frame until it is stretched and snug. It shouldn’t have any creases and wrinkles. Make sure you can apply pressure to the face of the mesh with it tearing or creasing. Creasing will negatively affect your end result, which will most likely have crease marks that compromise your image.
Fit the mesh along the face of the frame you desire and attach it to the frame using your staple. Make sure it is taut as you move around the frame.
At this point, your fabric will overflow and we’ll trim it at the end.
Gluing the Mesh
Keep the mesh spread tightly and start to apply the glue along where the frame meets the fabric going around the entire length of the frame.
Apply the glue to this space and attach the mesh to the frame.
Take a ruler or a straight edge and place it on your fabric, with the fabric laid over the frame. Draw a line around the perimeter of the underside of the fabric showing where you will apply the glue. Proceed to apply the glue along this line.
You can use the craft stapler to staple the fabric to the frame along with the place where the fabric and frame meet which properly secures the mesh.
Test your mesh to make sure it can withstand pressure, by applying slight pressure along its length, across. Do it like you would using a scoop coater or squeegee.
Cut off the excess fabric around the frame in a neat edge trim. Remove any excess fabric that might come your way when you are using the screen. You should be applied to hold the screen up without having any excess fabric.
Clean Your Frame
Once you are satisfied with your screen, clean it. Keep a clean frame by making it a habit to clean your screen before and after all your projects.
Keeping a clean screen maintains it’s integrity and helps you avoid pinholes and marks that ruin a final image.
Your screen should be free from oil, dust and dirt. This can be accomplished by using a degreaser that will dissolve any dirt and keep your screen in top condition.
Spray the degreaser across the face of your mesh on your screen and allow it to absorb for a few minutes, the brand instructions will have precise details on the length of time required.
Place your screen over a clean sink after 2 – 4 minutes and gently scrub it with a scrubbing pad, then rinse it under cool water until all the cleaning agent is removed.
Vertically or Horizontally hang your frame to dry in a cool dry room with great airflow. Depending on your location, you can add a fan if you live in a dry hot climate or a dehumidifier if you are in a moist climate. Screen racks are designed to allow adequate airflow through the mesh which decreases drying time and maintains the integrity of your design.
Clean Up Your Workspace
Your studio or workspace should be cleaned after every project and lightly dusted before a new project. Make sure it is free of dust, dirt, and debris. Even small specs of dust, dirt, or oil smudge will leave an impression on your screen which will transfer to the final image and ruin it, keep your studio clean and dust-free.
Turn on your fan or dehumidifier 30 minutes before you start working, it helps improve the airflow in your studio and removes any dust particles.
How to Make Screen Printing Frame With Aluminum
If you are using Aluminum, you’ll need a few items to get the best result.
- Aluminum Tubing/Pieces
- Aluminum Welding Rods
- Torch Trigger
- Duct Tape
- Propane Torch
Cutting An Aluminum Frame
You can easily cut Aluminum using your saw blade or jigsaw. Simply mark the pieces into 1x3s and use the saw blade to cut through that point.
You can use a jigsaw with a metal blade. Coat the bottom of the jigsaw with duct tape so that you can slide it along the Aluminum without scratching it. Mark where you’ll cut your Aluminum. Hook up your jigsaw and slice it off. Use the piece you cut as a template to cut the other pieces.
Bonding the Pieces
Make sure the Aluminum is clean before brazing. Tamper the edges with a brazing rod before add the brazing material. Clamp up the tubing and start heating the Aluminum with your propane torch. The tubing may take up to 45 minutes to heat up. Since Aluminum has a higher melting point we use the rod to give us an idea of the heat needed to avoid melting the Aluminum Once the rod starts melting, the heat source is hot enough, rub the rod along the Aluminum joint until it is completely filled in. Use heat to finish it off and repeat the process on all four sides to create your frame.
Make sure your propane torch is hot enough or risk the brazing tool clamping up creating uneven joints.
Continue to assemble your frame like you did with the wood.
Now that you know how to make a screen for screen printing, you can create as many frames of different sizes as you need for your images using the diy screen printing frame tutorials described above.
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How to make screen printing picture frames?
How to Choose the best Speedball Screen Printing frame?
Best cheap Frame
|Speedball Wood Printing Screen
Best for Home use
|Speedball Frame & Base Unit
Best for Professionals
|Speedball Aluminum Screen Printing Frame
Now that you know a little bit more about Speedball screen printing frames, it’s time to choose the best one for your needs. Here are some things to keep in mind when looking at these products:
First of all, determine what kind of size image you would like to produce and buy a frame accordingly. There is no point buying an eight-by-ten frame to produce a fourteen by eighteen image that you want. That would not only be extremely expensive but it will likely warp your screen after time when the water in the wood is exposed to air and dries out leaving behind creases that can mess up your print job.
Second, assess what kind of quality you are looking for on your screen. Are you just starting out with this craft and need something that is easy to use? Go with aluminum or wood depending on how much time you have to spend cleaning them after printing because if they are too hard for you to clean then there’s really no point buying one at all.
Finally, determine what price range fits into your budget best when choosing which Speedball frame works best for your needs. These screens can be found anywhere from ten dollars up to hundreds depending on what size and quality you need.
Speedball screen printing frames are a great product to use when screen printing because they can print any image on the market, from posters all the way up to full-sized billboards. You will not be disappointed in these products which is why there is a lifetime warranty offered by this company!
What types there are Screen Printing frames?
Speedball aluminum frames are made of sturdy yet lightweight metal. These screens come in various sizes ranging from eight by ten inches all the way up to fourteen by eighteen which means they can print any size image you desire. The mesh that comes with these screens is a 110 white silkscreen and it’s pre-stretched so your images will come out crisp and clean.
The aluminum is easy to wipe down with water after use, which means you can keep printing over and over without having your screens warp or bend in any way shape, or form like their wooden counterparts do when they get wet. As long as the frame stays dry (and it should if you are using them correctly) then these screens will last a lifetime.
Wood Speedball also offers wood frames that are made of pure pine. These wooden screens have an amazing lifespan as long as you keep them out of the elements and only clean with water after use to avoid warping or twisting. The pre-stretched 110 mesh that comes with this frame is top-notch so your images will be clean and crisp.
The only downside to these screens is that they warp over time due to water damage which can make it harder for you or your students to use them as the years go by if you do not store them properly between uses. This does not mean wooden frames are bad, this just means it’s important how you take them.
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