This tutorial will show you how to build an inexpensive and effective screen protector for your expensive TV.
While talking on the phone one day my sister-in-law shared the sad news that they're new flat-screen TV had been broken by an errant toy truck. Only a week later a friend down the street told about his exercise in self-restraint when his son threw a toy car at their large-screen TV and shattered the entire screen. The very next day my wife and I watched in slow-motion horror when a toy car flew across the family room right at our new 42" LCD. Luckily our TV came out unscathed, but I knew I had to do something to protect my investment.
I searched the internet and found expensive screen protectors, but being a cheapsk- ...uh, I mean frugal person I just couldn't cough up $200 for a piece of plastic. So I decided to make my own.
About the Protector:
My goals were to cheaply make a protector that could withstand a hefty toy at high velocity, using common household tools, with readily available materials. You can make one in a typical evening if you just want to get supplies from the big box store. What I'm sharing is the concept, and just one example of how this could be done. Read through, adapt to your situation, and go make your own.
Step 1: Materials and Prep
Materials I Used:
- Acrylic Sheet, 1/4" Thick
- 2' - 3' of Nylon Webbing, 1" Wide
- 2x D-Rings, 1" Wide
- 2x Grommets, 1/4" Inner Diameter
- 2x Machine Bolts
- 2x Small Rubber Corks
- Super Glue
Tools I Used:
- Straight Edge
- Acrylic Cutter
- Drill with ~1/4" drill bit
- Hole Punch / Crimper
- Sewing Machine
- The Acrylic Sheet must be big enough to cover the entire TV (just in case that wasn't obvious). You can substitute any clear plastic and any thickness. My choice of 1/4" acrylic was based on cost, strength and availability.
- My Machine Bolts came with the TV to be used for mounting the TV. I had some extra bolts so I didn't need to purchase anything. The protector is screwed into the back of the TV, so make sure you use the correct size.
- The Grommet size must match the bolt size.
Step 2: Cut, Drill and Sand the Protector
Cut to Size
Luckily for me the acrylic sheet was a perfect match for my TV, so I didn't have to do any cutting. But yours will probably will need to be trimmed.
- Measure your TV width and height.
- Mark the sizes on the acrylic sheet, add about a half inch of overhang (for aesthetics).
- Use the straight-edge and scoring tool to score a DEEP line into the acrylic.
- Snap off the excess.
Drill Mounting Slots
You need a way to attach the protector to the TV. I used nylon straps passed through slots in the acrylic that are screwed into the back of the TV.
- Measure the location of the screw mounts on the back of the TV.
- Mark the locations on the acrylic sheet.
- Drill multiple holes to create a slot at each location just wider than the nylon straps.
Sand all the Edges
- Use coarse-grain paper to shape the slots, round the four corners, and bevel all the edges.
- Use fine-grit paper to smooth and polish all the edges.
Step 3: Make TV Mounts From Nylon Webbing
- Punch holes into each end of the nylon webbing.
- Crimp the grommets into the holes.
- Use matches to burn the edges of the nylon to prevent fraying.
Measure and Cut the Strips
I wanted the mounting hardware to hide behind the TV.
- Put the bolts through the grommets and screw into the back of the TV.
- Measure the straps about an inch past the front of the TV and cut.
- Burn the edges to prevent fraying.
Sew D-Rings to Strips
- Slide the D-Rings 2 to 3 inches onto the nylon webbing, opposite of the grommets.
- Fold the strap around the rings and sew back to itself.
- For safety's sake do a sturdy, quality job on the sewing.
Step 4: Cut Straps for the Protector and Test Fit
Attach the TV Mounts
For this whole section I had my wife hold the TV upright on the floor. That was fastest. You could lay the protector on the floor and put the TV on top. Or if you have a fancy wall mount then you can just leave it mounted and pull it out.
- Screw the TV Mounts (that you created in the last step) into the back of the TV.
Cut Remaining Nylon
- Cut and seal the remaining nylon into two strips.
- Thread one end of the strip through the slot in the protector.
- Pull the other end over the top of the protector.
- Repeat on both slots.
Fasten the Protector Straps
Securing the protector to the mounts is like securing a motorcycle helmet, only you're going to thread both ends together.
- Thread both ends of the strap through the middle of both D-rings.
- Curl the ends back over the top of the back ring.
- Pull the ends down and forward though the middle of the front ring.
- Check the fit to make sure you can align the protector as desired.
Step 5: Add Spacers
- If the protector is mounted flush to the screen then most of the impact is transferred into the screen.
- If the protector has room to flex then it can absorb most of the impact and spare the TV screen!
- Spacers also prevent the protector from rubbing against the screen.
I used rubber stoppers because they were cheap and would absorb the impact. You could use anything you want. Felt, cork, washers, sticky pads, springs?
- Cut the corks into 3 sections for 6 total pieces.
- Try to make the cuts as uniform as possible.
I put one spacer on each corner, one on top-middle and one on bottom-middle. I recommend putting one spacer under each slot at the top because these points bear the weight of the protector and need extra support.
- Take the protector off the TV and lay it face down (inside / TV side up).
- Determine and mark the location for spacers.
- Use coarse sandpaper to roughen the surface of the protector (on the inside / TV side).
- Glue the spacers onto the protector.
Step 6: Finishing Up
Mount and Align
- Wait for the glue on the spacers to dry.
- Reattach the protector to the TV.
- Center and align the protector over the TV.
- Pull hard on the straps to secure.
Make It Better
This design should work for any TV that can be wall-mounted. It's not a perfect design, or the prettiest design, but it met my design goals.
You can probably do better, and I'd like to see it. As with any creator, I'm just happy to know you found it useful. Let me know either way.