Monday, November 17, 2008

Shoji Project: Are We Done Yet?

By now you're probably wondering, "What the hell happened to you? Did you die or something?". No I didn't die. Work and a faulty memory chip in my brain happened. But there is good news. I finally finished the shoji screen! Pictured below is the finished product. Note that this was a 5-panel screen but the very first panel is folded back due to a lack of space at the time this picture was taken.

To finish this project I purchased an 800 thread count bed sheet. The paper was very tempting but expensive. On the other hand, the bed sheet was available at walmart for 20 bucks. Also, I chose 800 thread count because it was denser and would look a lot better when a light was shining from behind the screen. After taking measurements it turned out a queen would do the trick. Just make sure that the edges are not seamed too far in as you'll be cutting off those parts and discarding them. You will want to subtract the seamed edge measurement from the total area the sheet will cover and make sure it will still get your shoji screen done with a single sheet.

Installing the cloth was easy. Spread the sheet in front of you in a landscape arrangement and mark out the inside of a frame width plus half an inch on the sheet. In my case the inside width was 14 inches plus a half inch. Why the half inch? We have to stretch into the 1/4 inch grooves we routed out earlier and also give our shims something to half on to. 1/4 x 2 = 1/2 inch, get it? Don't worry about the vertical measurement as the queen dimension that way gives us plenty of room to work with. Now start cutting and don't go crooked. Now hopefully you have some of that 1/4 inch square dowel stock left over from your latices. Make a bunch of 1 inch pieces to make the shims. Stand a frame on its side and lay an edge of your cut cloth along the 1/4 inch groove. Remember that you want the sheet to be touching the latices so you have to position the cloth correctly. Position a shim at about the middle of the frame and smack it in with some cloth under it. I used a hammer and a 4-inch piece of leftover dowel stock. It doesn't take that much force and should make a nice tight friction fit. Stretch out in a direction along the same edge and smack in some more shims until you have a whole side shimmed. Get those corners good. Now stand the frame on its opposite edge so the the cloth you tacked in falls across to the other side. Stretch and smack as before but this time you'll be stretching across your latices as well. Don't try to get it so tightly stretched so as the shims you already did would pop out. The 4-inch piece really helps out here as there's less of a chance your hammer will accidentally smack your latices. After you get the cloth nicely stretched and shimmed in you can do the top and bottom. I had some weird stretch patterns at this point and removed and re-shimmed the corners to a nice square stretch. It really makes you appreciate your friction fit shims. Yes I thought of staples but also remembered the holes they make if removal and adjustments are necessary.

Now stand up your first finished frame, take pride and feel satisfation of what you've finished, and repeat 4 more times(for a 5-framer). After you get all of them done just screw all the hinges back together and you now have your homemade SHOJI SCREEN.