Hackaday Screen Printed T-Shirt on the Cheap




Introduction: Hackaday Screen Printed T-Shirt on the Cheap

This is just a document detailing my experience with making some shirts/flags for our canoe outing.  With our homemade water arsenal, a pirate theme is appropriate.  The Hackaday logo is even more so.  I used the techniques from this site:  http://ask.metafilter.com/16528/DIY-screen-printing  to knock out a quick screen to try it.  I had some ghosting from the spray paint (the edges of the print aren't ultra sharp), but considering I was doing a Hackaday logo shirt, I figured that would actually be the perfect style. 

Step 1: Get Your Supplies

Get your junk.  I used:
  • 1/2 * 1 1/2 pine (2 x 12.5", 2 x 15")
  • #8 x 3/4 Sheet metal screws (8). 
  • A staple gun. 
  • A piece of window screen. 
  • 3M 77 Spray adhesive. 
  • Flat black spray paint (DEMKOTE)
  • Cordless Drill
  • 1/8" Drill Bit
  • 1/4 Hex driver bit (for my screws)
  • Compressed Air (to clean the screen after spray painting through it).

Step 2: Cut Pieces for Your Screen Frame

I cut my pieces so that I had a little extra room when I put an 8 1/2 x 11 pieces of paper in them. 

Step 3: Drill Pilot Holes for Your Screws

The pine will split if you don't put pilot holes in the top pieces.

Step 4: Screw the Frame Together

Step 5: Staple the Window Screen to the Frame

Stretch the screen tightly over the frame.  Note that my frame doesn't stretch the screen lengthwise.  It seems to work okay.

Step 6: Stick the Paper to the Screen and Cut Out Your Image

You will need to print your design backwards so you can see to cut on the lines.  My design was symmetrical, so I didn't have to.  I got my logo from here: http://www.thingiverse.com/download:4256  I love hackaday.  First, spray a very light coating of adhesive on the back of your paper.  If you use too much, it will clog the screen. It is very viscous stuff.  Then, stick your paper to the screen.  Use a pocket knife that will cut/rip/poke through the paper but not cut the screen to cut out all of the places you want paint to go through.  Pick and peel each of these sections off.  My edges were a little fuzzy, but that was fine with me. 

Step 7: Spray Paint the Shirt

I have set the screen directly on the shirt and I had a slight grid patter from the screen. I have also elevated the screen with 4 washers (one at each corner), and I didn't have any grid showing. I think both results look pretty cool.
I have found that spraying the mask with paint thinner allowed me to blow the excess paint from the screen after painting through it. I did some impressions, let the paint dry a few days, and then did more impressions with cleaning screen. I think the dried paint from the first days use probably acted as adhesive and kept the stencil from falling off when I spritzed it with paint thinner. Having done this, I would recommend doing the first impression, letting it dry, and then doing the others with occasional cleaning. I have taken 18 impressions from my screen. Had I cleaned it earlier, I think the later impressions would have had more paint go through. The other thing I have considered is thinning the paint before spraying. This might allow deeper penetration of the paint. Still at $3.58 for the shirts and nothing for the screen, this was a very cheap project.

Step 8: Thank You!

If you are a maker like me you like buying yourself awesome new tools
and supporting instructables like this one. You can do BOTH by checking out the #MADEINUSA branding irons I make that allow you to burn your fully custom logo into your finished work. Check out my shop at http://yeltrowshopllc.com – THANK YOU – yeltrow

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    9 years ago on Introduction

    Just wondering.... If you are using a can of spray paint to do the image, can't you just make the stencle out of thick cardboard and forgo the screen? I use posterboard when I need a stencle for my airbrushing. A window screen is pretty cool if you want a pixel pattern on your work. Lace works great if you need scales. Just thinking out loud.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    One pro to using the screen is that you can have "floating" elements to your design which a true stencil can not do well because it needs to be connected. I also think the screen would help keep the design from curling which seems to happen to my stencils after a while. But I sometimes really like the look of a stencil - this is just one more tool in the kit. Nice job!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    this is awesome! i always wanted to be able to screenprint my own shirts, but i don't live near a techshop and a screen printing thing would cost a fortune....