DIY Projection Screen Instructions - Step 1 - Frame Fabrication

DIY Projection Screen Frame
Frame Fabrication Instructions

A guide to creating a professional DIY projection screen frame.

The goal in the design of this DIY projection screen frame is to provide a 1 piece assembly that holds the material and acts as a trim frame at the same time. The approach taken here sheds the need to have a 2 piece constructed DIY frame to create something functional and professional looking. The first challenge in the design was to provide an edge for the projection screen material to bend over. The bending of the material over an edge is required as this removes any possible ripples (pull marks) emanating from the staples in the projection screen material.

Design #1: 4" Wide - 15 Deg Beveled Edge Frame

DIY 15 Deg Projection Screen Frame Drawing PDF

We achieved an edge for bending the material over by having an inside beveled edge where the material is stapled lower than the viewing surface. The design here is simple but does require some woodworking skills and tools.

The cost of materials for this DIY Projection Screen Frame is app. $47 (Wood).

Level of Difficulty: 6 out of 10.

The instructions below are specifically for this design.

Design #2: 4" Wide Boxed Frame

DIY Box Projection Screen Frame Drawing PDF (Instruction not provided)

Design #2 is more on the simple side but still achieves our goal of a one piece frame for trim and mounting. We added this design for those without a table saw and nail guns. Because this frame has straight sides we do not need the table saw or a nail gun. The wood pieces specified can be purchased at the designed sizes and only requires cut to length and assembly.

The cost of materials for this DIY Projection Screen Frame is app. $47 (Wood).

Level of Difficulty 4 out of 10.

The instructions below are NOT for this design but still can be used as a guide.

Supplies: (Design #1)

Top/Bottom (2 Pieces ea. per size):
1" x 3" x 10'  Poplar (True Size is 3/4" x 2.5" x 10')
1" x 4" x 10' Poplar (True Size is 3/4" x 3.5" x 10')

Sides (2 Pieces ea. per size):
1" x 3" x 6'  Poplar (True Size is 3/4" x 2.5" x 6')
1" x 4" x 6' Poplar (True Size is 3/4" x 3.5" x 10')

Nails, Screws or Staples
Wood glue
220 Grit Sanding Paper

Supplies: (Design #2)

Top/Bottom (2 Pieces ea. per size):
1" x 3" x 10'  Poplar (Actual Size is 3/4" x 2.5" x 10')
1" x 2" x 10' Poplar (Actual Size is 3/4" x 1.5" x 10')
1" x 2" x 10'  Poplar (Actual Size is 3/4" x 1.5" x 6')

Sides (2 Pieces ea. Per size):
1" x 3" x 6' Poplar (True Size is 3/4" x 2.5" x 10')
1" x 2" x 6' Poplar (True Size is 3/4" x 1.5" x 10')
1" x 2" x 6' Poplar (True Size is 3/4" x 1.5" x 10')

Nails, Screws or Staples
Wood glue
220 Grit Sanding Paper

Note About Wood Selection: We chose poplar because it is a harder wood than pine, less costly than other hardwoods and it is readily available at your major home store in the 10' lengths needed to fabricate a 110" diagonal 16:9 DIY projection screen frame. We purchased ours at Lowes but Home Depot also has the same or similar selections. You can use "Select Pine" and save a few dollars. The frame should work out just fine with pine but for the cost difference it didn't make much sense to use pine instead of poplar. Also the store we were at did not have 10' lengths of select pine but it is likely available at some stores. The select pine can be found near the Poplar and Oak most of the major home supply stores. Do not use the knotty rough cut material or 2" x 4" material for this project as this type of material will be more likely to warp and change shape after construction.

When you start looking at the wood on the rack you will see that the boards do have some warp and twist to them. They also seem a little flimsy. Just select some decent boards. They do not need to be perfect. When the frame is assembled the warp will disappear and the lengths will be much more rigid.

Tools Required: (Design #1)
- Pneumatic Nail Gun or Pneumatic Staple Gun
- Table Saw
- Miter Saw
- Clamps
- Palm Sander

Step 1 - Frame Fabrication Instructions - Design # 1 Instructions

1) Set up a sawhorse to support the long pieces of wood as they pass through the cut on the table saw or grab a second person to aid in the cutting.

2) Set your table saw to cut a 15 Deg angle and set the fence distance so that you are only removing enough material to put the angled edge on the board.

3) Rip the angle on one side of all 4 lengths of the 1" x 3" stock. It is important to do all of the 4 boards before you adjust the saw again. This will minimize the variation in size of the boards.

4) Rip the angle on one side of all 4 lengths of the 1" x 4" stock. It is important to do all of the 4 boards before you adjust the saw again. This will minimize the variation in size of the boards.

5) Readjust the fence on the table saw to cut the 15 Deg angle on the opposite side of the 1" x 4". Our board is now narrower as we have removed some material on our previous cut. Again we are only removing enough material to put the angle on the edge.

6) Flip the 1" x 4" and cut a parallel angle in the opposite edge of all 4 lengths. It is important to do all of the 4 boards before you adjust the saw again. This will minimize the variation in size of the boards. The profile of your boards should now look like this.

7) Time to start gluing and nailing. Because of the long lengths and angles of the wood it is helpful to put some supporting pieces of wood to aid in the alignment of the frame side.

8) Start with your short sides first. This way you can have a little practice before you get to your longer sides which are more difficult. Apply Glue to one edge of the 1" x 4". This has 2 angled edges on it now.  Mate it up to the side of the 1" x 3" piece so that the bottom of the angled edge on the top is aligned with the top of the 1" x 4". Apply a Clamp at the end, fine tune the alignment and staple, nail or screw the pieces together. Then do the opposite end followed by the middle. Then continue to nail every 4" or so. Follow your glue MFG recommendations for glue curing time (we did 1hr). We used 1 1/4" staples because we like the holding power much better than nails. Screws would hold great as well but this requires a lot more work because of all the pre-drilling of holes at the proper angle. Assemble all 4 sides of your DIY projection screen frame.

9) Nailing or stapling at the odd angle can result in punch though as shown below. We will remove the splintered wood, set the nail below the surface with a punch and wood putty over it. Since we are not woodworkers by trade we averaged 1 of these per board on our first 2 sides :) By the time we got to the  other sides we had our act together. This one could actually have been ignored as it is on the end and will be cut off later when we miter the ends of our DIY frame. We will be sanding the top frame surface in the next step.

10) Now is a good time to inspect the assembled frame sides for straightness. One of our short sides has a little warp to it still. We are opting to forego rebuilding the one side for now. When we place any of the pieces up against the wall it is obvious that the wall has more unevenness than our frame. The little warp in one side will not cause any unpleasant gaps that the wall is not already going to cause. We will replace this side If it appears that the slightly warped side is going to cause our frame to twist out of shape when we do our test fit. The other thing worth noting here is that our frame sides are much longer than they will be once cut to length. For instance we are constructing a 110" Diagonal projection 16:9 screen frame and the sides will be 60" long. We are going to lose 12" of this board when we cut this board since thus far they are still 72" long. Once cut down, the warp we currently see will be much less dramatic as it is focused towards one end.

11) Sand the surfaces of the frame pieces to remove any sharp edges, uneven spots and wood putty repairs. We also like to have our edges a little more rounded. We will use 220 grit sand paper. We have not filled our staple holes. These are small and will not show through the framing fabric.

12) Prepare to cut your lengths. Make note and mark your lengths with any section you want cut out of your frame sides. Because our frame is app. 4" wide we will lose app. 4" outside our 45 $eg angle. We are marking our boards prior to cutting: the top and bottom lengths will be marked at 5" and 101" (Net 96"), the side will be marked at 5" and 59" (Net 54"). We mark both spots first because it easier to make the measurement without an angle already being cut. You will then need to use a 3/4" shim (we used scrap MDF) so that the frame is sitting at its normal position for the cut which will provide the proper angle. If you cut without a shim the angles will have the improper taper on them. Make sure you clamp your work in place so it can't move and so it is sitting properly. Cut all 4 pieces.

13) Once you have all your cuts made it is time for a test fit. You will need 4 - 3/4" shims. Layout the frame sides with the shims under the inside corner and inspect how the frame corners meet.

14) We are still test fitting here: Pre-drill 1 hole per corner so that you can drive a screw into the frame corners. We used 1 5/8" drywall screws. This way you can tighten the corners to test the fit. We found that our previous side which had a little warp was just fine after our test fit here.

15) Apply some glue to the joint. Staple or nail the corner from both directions and then put the screw in to pull the joint together as tight as possible.

Note about using screws: You may have noticed in the previous step that the screw can tend to pull the corner out of alignment. This is why we used our staples first. We still use the screw afterward to aid in pulling the joint together. If we had larger clamps that would allow us to clamp the joints we would have forgone the use of screws altogether and added 2 more staples.

16) This step is optional. Some folks will opt for staining or painting versus putting fabric on the frame. We are going to put fabric on our frame but we could still paint anyway. Painting does a couple of things for you: it provides a better surface for adhesive backed frame covering fabrics and it will provide an "oops" layer. If you paint you frame the same color as your frame fabric and make a mistake with the covering that can not be easily fixed, the underlying black paint will aid in hiding the flaw. Most problems with covering a frame with fabric will likely happen at the corners so you may opt to just paint the corners. Since we have given our wood a good sanding and since we have practiced with the framing fabric application we will not paint our frame.

Next - Step 2: Apply Framing Fabric

Jump to Step 3: Attach Frame Mounting Rail

Jump to Step 4: Attach Projection Screen Material

Jump to Step 5:Mount the DIY Projection Screen to the Wall

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