Wednesday, August 10, 2011

DIY A Folding Screen

We live in a two bedroom here in New Orleans and we quickly realized that we'd have lots and lots of visitors because we live in such a cool city...sooo that meant converting our den/office area into a bedroom at least once a month. A pull out sofa was the first necessity then we decided we wanted some kind of room divider so that we wouldn't see our guests chilling in the bed if we had to sneak to the kitchen. I, being the penny pincher that I am, wanted to DIY something so I sketched up some plans for a folding screen and I'm thrilled with how it turned out!

Here's what you need:

  • 8 1" x 2" x 8' white wood boards (hold them up and eye them to make sure they're straight)

  • Sandpaper

  • Hand or Table Saw

  • Screwdriver

  • Kreg Jig (I bought a mini kit and a C-clamp, it was about $20)

  • Electric Drill

  • Pocket Hole Screws (1.5 ", Self threading, found in the same aisle as kreg jigs)

  • Hinges (you'll need 6 small, lightweight hinges for a four panel screen--that generally means 3 packages because there are two to a package)

  • Wood finish (I really like the Minwax water based, rub on stain. Use an old cloth or cheesecloth to apply it, make sure the coats are thin and you move quickly so that lines don't form as the wood absorbs the stain. I used a walnut finish.)

Fabric Covers:
  • You'll need about 4 yards of 45" wide fabric and you'll have a good bit left over.

  • 4 Fabric panels 63" by 12.5" finished size (you could go a little bigger on these if you don't want gaps)

  • 16 Fabric ties, 14" long, width is your preference (you can make these with the leftover fabric above like I did or use some kind of purchased cord/ribbon/webbing, etc...

  • Matching thread, scissors, sewing machine

Cut List
(After cutting you should have 8 six foot pieces and 8 one foot pieces)

Measure, mark and cut 8, six foot pieces of the 1" x 2" boards (you'll be left with 8 two foot pieces)
Measure, mark and cut 4 of the leftover two foot pieces into 8 one foot pieces

Fabric: cut 4 panels, 64" by 13.5", turn and press edges to wrong side and hem on all sides (should then have approximately 63" by 12.5" panels). My fabric doesn't fray so I just folded over once. If you have a fabric that needs to be turned under twice, add a little extra when cutting.

If using fabric for ties, cut 16 strips that are 14" long (width is up to you), press edges inward and sew


Start by using the Kreg jig to drill two pocket holes into each end of the one foot pieces of wood (4 holes total in each). Follow directions on the packaging to use the jig. I used a bit of foam rug grip between the wood and C-clamp so that I didn't leave marks on the wood. Just eye the distance so they're basically even, you don't want the holes to touch.

After drilling all the holes, take out your sandpaper and get busy! Smooth around the edges, around the drilled holes, and the length of every board. Make sure that the bottom of each long board is completely flat so that your screen is level. I used the machine cut end as the bottom. Next, wipe off any sawdust and start applying your stain.

When everything is dry, you're ready to start putting this thing together. Start by laying your long boards on the floor, the the short pieces (screw holes facing up) one at the top and one seven inches from the bottom (you will measure just before attaching). Be sure that the edges of your long boards are flush with the edges of the short boards and screw them together (stabilizing so that they don't shift as you work). Once that is finished, measure up 7" from the bottom of one of your long boards and screw together, do the same for the other side.

Repeat process until you have 4 completed panels.

Now, just attach these panels together with hinges. Be sure that the barrel of the hinge extends far enough beyond the wood that the screen will fold up easily without scraping together, also you will alternate the direction of the hinges like in the picture below-two opening backwards and the middle one opening forward. I placed the hinges 10 inches from the top and 10 inches from the bottom.

MAKE SURE that your screw holes are all facing the back!! I made this mistake once, and had to take 8 screws out--no fun!

I used a hammer to start the screws, but you could used a tiny drill bit if you have someone else with another set of hands to help you.

The last step!! Covering the screens.

I love old-fashioned ticking fabric. It's usally blue or red and cream striped and the stripes are actually woven through the fabric--not just printed on (although you can find faux, printed ticking these days). This fabric came from Hancocks.

Positioning the fabric ties: pin the tie about 1/2" away from the outside edge with 8" on the top end and 6" on the bottom end (so that the longer piece goes around the wooden frame and leaves you with even ends after tying it to the frame). See below:

Measure and pin a tie to each corner of the four panels, sew securely along the hem line (forward and back stitching a little beyond the edges of your tie).

You're done! I love mine so much that I want to make more. I think they look so cute in a bedroom or filling up an empty corner somewhere.

Happy Screening!


  1. This is such a great tutorial! You make is sound so easy...maybe, just maybe, I'll challenge myself. You can easily change out the fabrics when the mood strikes too. Thank you for explaining so thoroughly.

  2. Love it. Thanks for sharing. The picture at the top of this page is priceless. That's one of the best pictures I've ever seen of two kids together.