This is my entry for the "Fix it & Improve It Contest" in which I have improved on a simple sheet- which we hung along ceiling with some weight on the bottom of it - for a projector screen to make a better version without spending any real cash for it!
After seeing time and again how others have made projector screens using spadex, pvc and wood, I finally got up the gumption to make my own. The problem I have is that I have a severely limited budget, and a really cheap Wonderwall projector that the kids use to watch Netflix shows from the Wii on.
As you can probably tell, spending anything on this project wouldn't be something I'd like to do. In this instructible I'll tell you how I put together a really decent screen for no money and using things I already had. I'll also tell you where to find materials for free if you really put some effort into it.
((Comments and questions are welcome! Thanks for taking the time to look this over!))
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Step 1: Step One: What You Will Need
White hospital blanket or white sheet. (If you can get one from the hospital then make sure it isn't one with the name printed down the center.)
Bleach & Laundry Soap
6 pieces of wood – 2 x 6ft & 4 x 4.5ft (Scrap is ok as long as it is straight.)
Screws – At least 1 ½ inch long.
Spray Paint – Any color will do (this is optional and I didn't do it since it was raining the day I chose to build this)
Screwdriver or Drill with a screwdriver bit
Small Drill bit - (I used a ¼ inch one I think)
Step 2: Step Two: Wash
To start, take your sheet and make sure it is at least 5 ft x 7ft. Run hot water into your clothes washer, add bleach (not too much!) and then wash your sheet. We want a good white, clean sheet to do this with.
NOTE: Do NOT use fabric softener! You are not sleeping on this and fabric softener just adds things to the fabric that make it harder for the spray paint to adhere to later.
Dry the sheet once the washer is done with it. Once dry, lay it out flat or hang it so it doesn't get too wrinkled.
Step 3: Step Three: Cut
Grabbing your wood, cut two pieces to be 6 feet long and four pieces to be 4.5 feet long.
NOTE: I get my scrap wood from a furniture manufacturer that works in my neighborhood. They regularly put scrap out by the street for free and I've found a good amount of wood there. If you want free wood I would suggest using on-line sites like your local Free-cycle, or Craigslist. Other than that, look in your local phone book for furniture makers, or wood manufacturers of some sort and call them. They are often very nice about letting you get some scrap if you are polite and don't make a mess. Alternately you can buy 1x4's for this, but I really don't recommend it unless you are OCD about it.
Step 4: Step Four: Drill
When using scrap wood or any wood of thin design, I recommend pre-drilling screw holes. In this, I laid the 6ft pieces on top of each other and drilled 4 holes. One hole at either end, another about 1/3rd of the way down and then a 2nd at 2/3rds of the way down. Don't drill the 4.5ft sections unless your drill bit is smaller than the screws you are using. (Mine was a ¼ inch bit so I just did the 6 ft sections.)
Also, laying the two 6ft sections together and drilling them at the same time will make sure your screw holes come up even and help make the frame square.
Step 5: Step Five: Assemble the Frame
Lay out the 6 ft pieces with the holes lining up. (I did it wrong and had to take the whole thing apart.)
If you lay it out on the floor or the driveway it will help make sure everything is lined up and pretty level.
Screw the 4 4.5 ft pieces to the 6ft sections. Starting at one end and working your way down.
Once finished pick up the piece and make sure it is stable enough. If not you can use a few scrap pieces to screw into the corners. (I didn't have to do this because this isn't a really heavy piece and when hanging from the top piece the rest will naturally straighten out as long as I have it level.
Step 6: Step Six: Stapling!
Once the frame is together, grab your sheet, staples and staple gun, It's time to get with the stapling!
Lay out the sheet to make sure it fits.
I prefer to use the existing edges on two of the sides of the sheet to staple those to the frame since they are already reinforced!
In this case I was lucky and three sides matched up perfectly.
Starting with the corners, staple one corner down with one or two staples.
Once that area is secure, move to the next corner wither clokwise or counter clockwise. Pull the sheet taut and staple that corner down to anchor it.
(Don't pull too hard as you will pull out staples, rip the fabric or bend the frame. Just pull enough to get the wrinkles out.)
Once the second corner is done, move to the next in line and staple it down, pulling just tight enough to get rid of wrinkles.
Move on to and anchor the fourth corner while pulling the sheet to get rid of wrinkles.
Once the corners are complete, move along the edge and staple the sheet down every few inches.
If you want to, you can double up the sheet to increase the holding area, and that's what I do, but It's not necessary.
Once the sheet is stapled to the frame cut off the excess with the scissors, making sure to leave about ½ inch or more from the staples to prevent unraveling.
Step 7: Step Seven: Painting (optional Step)
This part is Optional, but stil important if you don't want your projector screen wiggling with every puff of wind and acts like a permanent starch for the fabic.
Using your spare spray paint Turn the piece over and LIGHTLY spray the back of the Sheet with spray paint. (I used gold because that's what I had on hand but color doesn't matter.)
Use light sprays and moe along the fabric. Don't over-spray anyone area. We are not going for a uniform color here so much as getting the whole sheet sprayed with a fine layer of paint to help keep the fabric stiff.
(NOTE: you can use starch if you prefer, but I recommend against it as humidity will take the starch out of fabric over time and a light coat of spray paint will last a great deal longer.)
Once completed, stand the screen up on its end and let it dry completely according to the directions on the spray paint can.
Step 8: Step Eight: Hanging!
To hang the screen I just put two screws in my wall and place the frame over it.
From the best I can figure I have around a 90 inch screen to let the kids watch movies and shows on now.
Alternately, if you have good walls, you can run some picture hanging wire from one end to the other and hang it on a single nail or picture hanger like you would prefer.
That's it! Hook up your projector and enjoy, knowing that you managed to make something that didn't cost a lot (or anything if you worked a little at it.)