Introduction: Let's Bring Paper Recycling to Our Homes!

Here's a quick fact; a typical American uses about 680 pounds of paper per year, yielding a total of about 85,000,000 tons of paper a year throughout America, according to The University of Southern Indiana. About 65% of this paper is put into recycling bins, however, only about 70% of the paper in recycling bins makes it to recycling plants - the rest is sent to China for processing. If you do the math, only about 45% of all paper ends up getting recycled, while the rest pollutes our wonderful Earth.

That is why today, you will learn how to make your very own paper recycling 'machine', called a Mould and Deckle, and how to use it to recycle your very own paper!

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Now that you have decided to pursue this paper recycling project, it is time to gather the necessary tools and materials. You will need:

1. A 108 inch long 1 3/8 by 1 3/8 board

2. Assorted length nails

3. A drill

4. A drill bit slightly smaller than diameter of nails

5. Wood glue

6. A hammer

7. A saw

8. A tape measure

9. A screen - got mine off an old screen door

10. A bucket large enough to hold water and paper

11. A blender

12. Several Towels

13. Most importantly, Paper!

Step 2: Prepare the Paper for Recycling

In order to save time, it is smart to prepare the paper for recycling before beginning to build the mould and deckle, as this step may take a while.

Fill the tub with a couple of inches of water, and tear the paper you wish to recycle into the tub of water.

Submerge the paper and give it a solid mixing - about a minute should do.

Now that we got this out of the way, the paper will have enough time to soften during the production of the mould and deckle, so it will be ready for the next step.

Step 3: Measure and Cut Pieces for the Mould and Deckle

With all of the tools and materials gathered, and the paper being prepared for recycling, we can finally begin to build the mould and deckle!

Before cutting, it is important to mark the proper measurements, as there is not much extra wood on a 108-inch board after all the cuts are made.

There will need to be four pieces that measure 13.75 inches long on the outer (longer) edge, with 45-degree angles coming in from either side.

There will also need to be four pieces that measure 11.25 inches long on the outer (longer) edge, once again with 45-degree angles coming in from either side.

In addition, two 3 inch pieces will need to be cut, without any angles.

This, when assembled, will result in two frames that have inner dimensions that match a standard printer sized sheet of paper (8.5 x 11).

Step 4: Assemble the Mould and Deckle Frames

Now that all the pieces are cut to proper lengths, it is time to start assembling them.

However, before you start nailing anything, it is important to pre-drill holes, so that the wood does not split, as it is rather thin. Drill two holes on one side of each piece, in the same diagonal arrangement as is shown in picture #3.

There should be a total of 8 holes for each frame, disregarding the two 3 inch pieces.

Make sure yo apply a thin layer of wood glue to the selected piece, and while holding it tightly to its corresponding piece, fasten the two pieces together with two nails. Do this to each side, until the frame is complete.

Now place the two 3 inch blocks roughly in the center of the longer sides of the frame, as you can see in the first photo. Pre-drill two holes in each piece, and glue and nail them together, once again.

Step 5: Trim and Fasten the Screen to the Mould and Deckle

You're almost done with the mould and deckle! All that is left is to attach the screen.

Place the screen over the frame without the extra 3 inch pieces of wood, and mark the screen so that it covers nearly the entire frame.

Cut the screen according to the marks - scissors work well for this, and be careful, the screen may be sharp.

Now fasten the screen to the frame, as tightly as possible.

If you have a staple gun, it would work very well, but since I did not have one, I used plenty of small nails evenly around the frame.

Step 6: Further Prepare the Paper

Now that the paper has been sitting for a while, you can take it out and put it into a blender. Make sure to add about two-thirds paper, and one-third water, so the blender does not jam.

Blend the paper into a fine pulp.

Step 7: Begin the Recycling Process

Put the two frames together, with the screen on the bottom frame, but facing you, and the frame with two handles, on top.

To rephrase this in a different way, when you take the top frame off you should be able to see the entire screen, including the nails or staples you used to fasten it.

Now that you have placed the two frames on top of each other, submerge them in the water in the bucket together.

Now you may pour the paper mix through the first frame, directly onto the screen, while holding the two frames firmly together. Keep in mind, the screen should be entirely submerged in water during this step.

Now spread the paper mix evenly onto the screen, buy shaking it through the water, and if necessary, gently adjusting the paper mix with your hands.

Once the paper mix is evenly spread out throughout the screen, take both frames out, while still firmly holding them together. Allow all the water to drip through the screen before proceeding to the next step.

Step 8: Finish Recycling Your First Piece of Paper!

Now that most of the water has dripped out of the paper mix and through the screen, you may take the top frame off.

The tighter you hold the two frames together throughout the process, the sharper and cleaner the edges of the paper will be.

Now dry off as much of the water you can by gently pressing a towel onto the paper.

Once you have dried off everything you can with a towel, take another dry towel and lay it out smoothly and evenly on top of the paper.

Now flip the frame and towel over, so that the towel is on the ground, and the frame is on top of the towel, with the paper sandwiched in between.

You can now take the frame off, but make sure to be gentle, so the paper does not tear.

Once the paper sits for a few hours, you will have your first sheet of recycled paper!

This can be expedited by using an oven or a heat gun, or even a blow dryer, but the paper may burn or warp, so use these tools at your own risk.

Thank you for following along, and I hope you enjoyed!

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