Projector Screen Build

Posted on November 21, 2014

I built a projector screen! I learned a lot of lessons. There will be another projector screen, probably in the spring/summer of 2015 that will benefit from all the mistakes I made in this one.

Mistake number one, used hardwood for the frame. Expensive, and it eventually grew to warp 🙁

Okay, here’s what it looked like before:

2014-10-27 18.32.37

Hanging frame ate a lot of room volume for no reason, hung in front of the speakers which meant dropping it down all the way to the floor (while it looked nice) blocked a significant amount of sound, and at this point I didn’t want to go Acoustically Transparent (lycra or spandex screen, for instance)

Another before shot:
2014-10-27 18.32.48

And now onwards to the build!

Here’s the hardwood frame laid out:
2014-10-25 13.45.30

I didn’t take many process shots, but basically I used 4″ wide 3/4″ thick cherry. I think it was cherry, anyway. I don’t remember. For the top, I actually used something different, I used a 6″ wide piece, that I cut a 30 degree angled french cleat out of. That’s what’s on the left, the other half of the cleat that will be used for wall mounting it.

2014-10-25 15.47.44

And the frame is built! I stapled it and then went back with long countersunk screws to hold it together. Stapled while checking for square, trimming, checking for square, sanding, checking for square….well, you get the idea.

Time to mount it to the countertop! Oh, didn’t I mention? I got WilsonArt Fashion Grey countertop laminate. I strongly DO NOT recommend this. I eventually scrapped the laminate, I wasted about $100 and learned a lesson. Oh well, I’ll heal.

2014-10-25 16.57.10

Glued her down. It’s a her now.

2014-10-25 17.29.06

Found everything that had mass to it and threw it on.

Found some random green stain and decided to go with it.

2014-10-26 10.27.25

Rubber cement is good for countertops. It’s NOT good for countertops glued sideways to a frame you intend to use as a screen. I went back with some wood glue. More weight.

2014-10-26 17.08.44

No process pics, but flush trim router bit to go over all around after gluing. Came out perfect. Well, at least the trimming did.

2014-10-26 18.17.51

Ignore the residue, just from the tape. Countertop had one nice thing going for it. Absurdly easy to clean.

2014-10-26 18.21.17

So, we held it up and I regret not taking any comparison photos or anything. I hated the grey. HATED it. Random hot spots, rainbow effect, washed out appearance at night. I don’t at all consider myself a “phile” but I am an A/V nut. This just drove me mad. I said okay….well, I do have a screen that I like. What else am I gonna do with it?

This is what the grey looked like:

2014-10-31 14.17.48

It looks fine when off, but when the projector was on, I was just not a fan.

Cut the screen from the pull down mechanism:

2014-10-31 13.52.15

Here’s where I made a big mistake. I should have removed the laminate, and/or reinforced the frame somehow. The canvas + laminate + hardwood all changing size at different temperatures….yeah, that didn’t go well later on.

2014-10-31 14.53.37

Staple. Stretch. Staple. Stretch. Staple. Stretch. I started top middle, bottom middle, left and right middles. Then I worked my way towards the corners going 2-3 staples at a time, stapling 3 on either side of the top center, then bottom, then 2 staples on the left, then 2 right. So on. So forth.

2014-10-31 15.05.41-2

Rippling had me nervous. I pulled a little harder. Second mistake, I should have undone some and pulled harder from the middle. Or not, it may not have made my situation any different.

2014-10-31 15.27.11-1

Nearly done!

2014-10-31 15.34.03

Still some ripples 🙁

2014-10-31 15.51.41

Robin had the bright idea of steaming it. I went the next degree and used an iron + towel and really went to town on the entire face. It worked!!

2014-10-31 15.57.58

All the lights on:

2014-11-01 19.59.39

It looks lovely! What little rippling there is, is completely unnoticeable during any actual viewing or watching.

And now it’s time to paint the room!

2014-11-02 10.35.35

Sorry for crappy cell phone picture, but here it is all the lights off! Looks gorgeous. Huge improvement on the room as a whole.

2014-11-02 19.44.06

Need a more powerful projector to watch with the lights on. One day, maybe.

2014-11-02 19.44.41-1

Here’s the final, off:

2014-11-03 11.17.51

Screen dimensions are 96×54″ almost exactly, which yields a 110″ screen. Projector, screen, build, hardware and mistakes all total cost less than $1600. Not too bad!

What’s not pictured is what happened several days later, the warping extended the bottom right corner off the wall about 6″. Talk about warping! I installed little T brackets on the bottom frame and screw them into the studs, and painted to match the wall. All in all, it works well, but I will definitely be redoing the whole thing next summer. Possible going Acoustically Transparent next time and making it a bit larger, but we’ll see!

If I were to do it again, I’d use plywood for the frame, put in vertical and horizontal flat reinforcements (Or frankly, just use a plywood sheet and paint it)

Still, even with all the mistakes and everything, it makes for a great screen and great viewing experience.