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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tutorial : How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen

How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by

In our old house there seemed to be more screens than windows. We hid the extra window screens in random places like between the oven and the wall, behind dressers and underneath our bed. As a knitter, I learned these screens were really useful for blocking. I would use one screen for small projects and two side by side for sweaters. I would lay the screens on top of my Costco drying rack so that the air could flow from the top and bottom and things would dry in half the time! It was really an ideal set up. It wasn't until I moved out of that old house that I realized just how handy my set up had been.

Blocking for the first time in my new place had me at a loss because nothing else seemed as efficient as my old set up. The only screen was in Elsie's bedroom, it wasn't nearly as sturdy as the old fashioned wood framed ones I'd had before and the probability of dropping the screen 4 flights into the garden below during removal or installation each time had me keen on buying a window screen solely for blocking. 

During my mission I discovered that window screens aren't sold fully assembled and that I'd have to buy all of the pieces and put it together myself. The cost of the screening, the metal frame pieces (which I'd have to cut myself), and the rubber pipping that holds the screen in place paired with the hassle of putting it all together - not to mention the end result which wouldn't even be as sturdy as the wood framed screens I was used to was enough to convince me a custom job was worth the extra effort. I got Chris on board and we set to work on the plans.

Below is our prototype. After a few uses it was clear that the design had a few shortcomings so we went back to the drawing board on how to improve it and decided to add some great features to take it to the next level!

How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by

This was my criteria:

+ large enough to block a sweater
+ had to fold in half to fit under the bed or couch
+ sturdy but not too heavy I couldn't handle it easily on my own

I also wanted to take the prototype up a level so that I could pin out lace if I needed to. Pining into my old screens never worked very well, the pins would get pulled out as soon as there was tension on the knitted fabric. I figured that if I had two screens one on top of the other the pins would stay in because the second screen would help anchor them. We came up with a new plan, drafted a fresh design, and strengthened the weak spots from our prototype.

Today I am guest posting over on luvinthemommyhood talking about blocking so I thought I would share a tutorial on how to make your own custom blocking screen!

Here's how we built mine...

How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by
  1. Box of finishing nails
  2. 1 1/4" wood screws for mounting your hinges
  3. Box of 9/16"/14mm staples
  4. 2 x 4" hinges (1.5 inches wide)
  5. 2 rolls of fiberglass patio door screening (36" x 84")
  6. 16 pieces of 1x2 fir (8 pieces cut to 31" and 8 pieces cut to 28.5" lengths) 
  7. 16 x 2 1/2" wood screws (not shown)

How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by

  1. Straight edge to trim the screen (optional)
  2. Staple gun
  3. Speed square
  4. Hammer
  5. Pencil
  6. Drill bit for 2 1/2" wood screws
  7. Drill bit to pre-drill holes 
  8. Drill bit for 1 1/4" wood screws
  9. Measuring tape
  10. Drill
  11. Utility knife
  12. Handsaw (optional)

For this project you will need lengths of 1x2 cut to 31" and 28.5", your local hardware store or lumber yard should be able to do the cutting for you, if absolutely necessary you can cut the wood yourself with a handsaw it just takes a lot longer. 

. . .

Step 1:

The first step is to make 4 frames using the 28.5" lengths as your sides and the 31" lengths as your tops and bottoms. 

How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by

a) Before screwing your pieces together be sure that your corners are square:

How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by

b) Pre-drill holes for your 2 1/2 inch screws:

How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by

c) Screw the frame together with your 2 1/2" screws:

How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by

Step 2:

Next you'll need to roll out your screen and cover 2 of the 4 frames. 

a) Staple the screen to the top of the frame beginning at each center point. Pull the screen very tightly across when placing adjacent staples.

How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by

b) Use a straight edge to cut away the excess. We had a level on hand but you could use a ruler or anything with a straight edge:

How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by

You should now have two fully screened frames. These frames are actually perfect for blocking smaller items so if you don't have the time, energy, or interest in taking on the entire project you could just make yourself one small blocking screen and call it a day!

How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by

Step 3:

Layout your two screens staple side up. Place your 2 empty wooden frames on top. You want your corner joins to be opposite of each other for added stability:

How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by

a) Roll out your second roll of screen and place the empty frames on top with the sides that were facing up laying face down on top of the screen. These two frames side by side form the top screen (the two you completed earlier will form the bottom layer). Be sure that the 31" lengths are side by side at the center creating one large screen.

b) Wrap the screen around the sides and fold over the top of the frame, then staple all the way around (treating both frames as one solid larger frame) as before - beginning at your centers and working outwards, pulling tightly as you go.

How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by

c) For nice tidy corners I folded the corner of the screen over onto my frame and cut a slit down the center. I then trimmed my edges, folded them in on themselves and stapled through all of the layers:

How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by

Your top screen should look like this when you're finished:

How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by

d) Slice the screen where the two frames join so that your blocking screen can fold in half once the hinges are on:

How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by

Step 4:

Next you will need to place your two separate screens on top of your large conjoined screen with the screen and staple side down (make sure your corners are opposite each other as illustrated in Step 3). 
Nail the screens together using finishing nails:

How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by

We measured first so that our nails were evenly spaced:

How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by

Step 5:

Carefully flip your screen over so that the conjoined screen side is facing up:

How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by

Place your hinges at either end of the join, fold one side over, and cut the screen just where the hinge will lay:

How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by

Next you'll need to pre-drill holes for your hinge screws (1 1/4" wood screws), use a piece of tape to mark your drill bit so that you don't drill too deep. Sink your screws into the pre-drilled holes and your done!

How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by

How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by
How to Make a Custom Blocking Screen by

I really hope you've enjoyed the tutorial!

I'm over on luvinthemommyhood today talking about blocking, you should head over and check out my screen in action!


  1. That is so cool! Chances of me building one in my apartment, with my less than handy hubby- slim to none unfortunately! When we lived on the west coast he tried to build me a bird table for the front garden. The end result was a table eagles could land on and he sawed straight through two (yes two) out side tables. Thank goodness for our super!

    1. Lol oh dear! Yes, you certainly need someone handy to help out on this project!

  2. Very cool. Do you use blocking pins in it just like any old kind of blocking?

    1. Oh, no pins! (just read your guest post on on luvinthemommyhood). Awesome!

    2. Sharon you totally just use regular old T-pins to do your blocking! It's awesome!