Picture of screenprinting - making the perfect screen
there are many tutorials on the web instructing home-based screenprinting techniques, but most fail to mention the two most important tips for creating quality, affordable prints at home. The first is the importance of how taught or tight the mesh must be, the second involves something called the "snap". This instructable shows how to make adjustable screens to ensure the tightest of screens, and then explains the "snap"
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Step 1: Go shopping!

Picture of go shopping!
This is what is required for this tutorial:
1 pine strip (1.8m long) and 22mm x 22mm.
4 x bolts (70mm x 6mm) with their accompaning nuts.
a drill (with 6mm bit).
staple gun.
wood glue.
mesh ( i've sourced mine from screenprinting suppliers and is a 55 mesh count)

Step 2: Cutting and drilling

Picture of cutting and drilling
first we need to cut our pine strip into 4 strips.
i've used 2 x 45mm pieces and 2 x 35mm pieces (this is just my preferred measurements)
each piece will have a hole drilled through the side, and on the other end, into the middle.
the depth of the middle hole should be about 20mm

Step 3: The lay-out

Picture of the lay-out
now we will creating a rectangular frame but with a "circular" lay-out.
in other words, the corners will be overlapping, not square.
this is best described by looking at the diagram.
each corner is connected by the bolt, then nut, and glued into the hole.
at this stage the nut will be tightened away from the glued hole.
allow to dry

Step 4: Mind the gap

Picture of mind the gap
once dry, it is safe to move the bolts all the way to the hole.
then tap the ends of the pine strip closer so that the bolts are protruding on the outside.
now your frame should be square and the corners seperated by the nuts.

Step 5: Attaching the mesh screen

Picture of attaching the mesh screen
staple the mesh to the frame.
its not necessary to try pull it tight while attaching.
the nuts will do that for you later.
use wood glue to ensure an even stronger fit.
allow to dry.
nearly done! maybe time for a cold beer, never drink beer and handle a drill at the same time, instructable on how to stem blood flow from a drill wound at a later stage

I'm not following how this stretches the mesh. The picture on Step 5 illustrates my point; as you "back off" the nuts, you are not (it seems to me) "pulling" the mesh against the far side of the frame, you are in fact pulling against the closest stapled (& glued) "side" frame, which is only a few mm's away, leaving the rest of the mesh only as tight as it was when you stapled (& glued) it.

I would appreciate any clarification (if my confusion makes any sense).

Also, I would think anyone having problems with the wood strips rotating as they turn the nuts, could just use a "backup" wrench on the bolt head (if the bolt can't turn, the wood strips should have no tendency to rotate)

Thanks for your article! Sharing ideas is always a great idea!

imploration9 months ago

This is a fantastic idea, and a great instructable.

What book did you get that last image illustrating the snap?

I'd also love to see your silkscreen carousel ideas...

Hi what is the glue you use to glue the bolts into the wood? normal wood glue? or multi purpose? i made the screen using this system only i used a glue called TEC7 but the woodstrips turn as i tighten the mesh.
I think you can use epoxy.
Wyle_E1 year ago
"2 x 45mm pieces and 2 x 35mm pieces"? That's a tiny screen. I think you meant centimeters.
bagshotrow1 year ago
I've been making my own screens for a long time but the bolt setup is very clever!
SABIOLOCO4 years ago
MatrixRage4 years ago
Dude, that is F%$I% Genius. Great idea.
22killzz4 years ago
this is a great idea ive screen printing for some time and i always pay to have my mesh glues to the frame this will save me lots of cash! :D
 Whoa whoa whoa. 

I like the idea of a gap between the substrate and the screen, but how do you support it? Blocks of wood? 
familycanvas (author)  M4industries5 years ago

i find that if you glue 5mm nuts to the 4 corners of your screen, this gives you a nice even snap. the reason its not included in the instructable is because i've now gone a step further and i am fitting my screen to a hinge system so you can lift the screen and, if need be, place it back if the print is not perfect. this hinge system stands 5mm higher than the board it is built on. make sense? it works on the same principle as a screenprinters carousel, good luck

We use a hinge system at my school. Except instead of making the hinges permanent, we use a nail to slide in and out of the two pieces of the hinge. That way we can change the screens with much ease
 Yeah. You might want to add that piece in there somewhere. Anyhow, I saw a 4 color carousel on eBay for $300. I don't know how cheap that is relatively, but if you want a carousel, eBay is your place.
You should see in built it your self, if you have the time and desired ( goole the video on how to built a silk press machine), but if dont have the time buy it.
this is an excellent  idea!  great job!
inlikeflint5 years ago
This is great info for those who already have some silkscreen know how.

Your fish is nice at the intro!
Thanks for posting this!