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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A little guide on how I construct the screens for my Vivs. I've been building screens professionally for 20 years now but I find these tiny little things to be more time consuming and more difficult than the full size house screens I build! Still, if you can manage a hack saw, you can build a screen.
Here is a list of materials/tools that you can find at Lowes or other hardware store:
*4 plastic external screen corners-brown
*aluminum screen rail-brown (make sure you get a rail that fits your *corners--you will probably only find 5/16 at Lowes)
*rubber screen spline--this is the rubber "cord" that holds the material in place
*screen spline roller tool

You will not find a suitable mesh at Lowes. I like to use NoSeeUm mesh to prevent fruit fly escapees. You can order it here. Mesh for Clothing, Bags, Screening and more! I like the black. I have also used brown but it is harder to find. Funny thing is that you can see through the darker colors easier than the light colors.

I like to make my screens with a 1 inch wide screen mesh. The length of the "legs" on your screen corners won't allow this unless you cut them. Here are pics of the corners after I have cut them. You can see, when I put the long legs together here, that they are much too long for a 1" mesh. You can see that the small 1" piece of screen rail above it will not fit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Here you can see that I have cut the legs down to 1/2" or less so that they can fit. You can also see how I have beveled each side of the leg, on a piece of sandpaper, so it can slip into the screen rail easier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
When you push the corner into the rail, it sometimes tends to "spread" the spline channel open. You can see a spread open one here, compared to one that I have lightly pinched closed with a pair of pliers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Now we use our hacksaw and miter box (I use power tools myself) to cut the longer screen rails. Here are a couple of frames ready to mesh. You can see that the rails look slightly warped or bent out. This is called pre-bow and makes it easier to mesh long screens. Totally unnecessary on these tiny screens. The stuff you will buy at Lowes is probably not pre-bowed anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Now I have placed the NoSeeUm mesh on top of the frame and you can see I have run the rubber spline partway in. I am using my fingers to help hold the material straight while I roll in the spline with my screen roller tool. You can see I am trying to guide the mesh in fairly straight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Here is the screen roller tool we use for this. Here is a closeup of the concave end that we roll the spline in with. Third pic shows how I choose to hold my roller for the most control and pressure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Now the corners don't like to go in easily. I show two methods of getting the corners in here. First is to use a screwdriver to push it in at the end, then fold the spline over the next leg and use screwdriver to push in the start of the next leg.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Next corner method I simply push the spline in as best I can and move on. I come back to it after the fourth side and use screwdriver to push it in. Be careful not to slip and cut mesh with screwdriver!
 

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Pretty cool that's pretty much how I do it too, one thing I would mention is that if you're making a long screen, don't lay the screening in tightly when you're splining it in, keep it a little loose, otherwise the sides will bow in kind of like )(
 

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That's how I did my first vertical too. I bought a kit that makes a 4 ft screen, I have most of it left over. Oh well I guess I'll have to get more tanks, darn Hahahaha.
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Pretty cool that's pretty much how I do it too, one thing I would mention is that if you're making a long screen, don't lay the screening in tightly when you're splining it in, keep it a little loose, otherwise the sides will bow in kind of like )(
Sorry guys, it got late I'll be finishing this later today. Good point Chris, that is why professional materials come pre-bowed. That way, when we roll the mesh and spline in good and tight, instead of bowing it in, as you pointed out, It instead pulls it straight. Mine are so tight I can bounce a coin off of them!
 

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when buying the window kits I allways wondered why every one was bowed.
I couldn't imagine that they were stored standing up and thats why they were like that. I would go through every package trying to find the one with the least amount of bow to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
when buying the window kits I allways wondered why every one was bowed.
I couldn't imagine that they were stored standing up and thats why they were like that. I would go through every package trying to find the one with the least amount of bow to it.
Definitely on purpose. In fact, I will add more pre bow on long 5 or 6 foot screens. It makes it much easier to get it nice and tight.
 

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Hmmm..youre timing is right on with mine apparently..just got all my screen stuff today...Im looking forward to seeing what is in store for us next...
I am , however slightly, worried...after the zombie cricket incident, Im wondering, with my luck, about the possiblity of freakishly strong fruit flies...who will just push the door of the viv open...hmmm...
HEY..Waaait a minute...are you supposed to be typing on a keyboard?..didnt they say, do NOT move you hand for 5 days?..Im sure thats what I heard..AHEM..:D
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
HEY..Waaait a minute...are you supposed to be typing on a keyboard?..didnt they say, do NOT move you hand for 5 days?..Im sure thats what I heard..AHEM..:D
You're not gonna tell on me are you?:( I'm doing it all with my right hand. Flashback to 7th grade hunt and peck!:rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Slice off the extra screen mesh with a good sharp carpet knife. You can see how I like to gently pull the waste material away as I cut it loose.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I love beef jerky! Frog jerky?...Not so much. So to prevent a possible failure, I like to glue my spline into place. Here I am running a bead of GE Silicone 1 along the spline. You can see in pic two that it does not make full contact with the frame and the spline. In pic three I have run my finger over the silicone bead, pushing and smoothing it into place.

That's it! Screen complete! Hope it helps!
 

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Doug - I really like your idea to put silicone in the joints! I never thought of that!

Anyway, if you dont want to try using a hacksaw and getting a straight cut, I thought I'd share my FAVORITE tool. It is a mini cut-off saw that I got from Harbor Freight for about $30. I cut everything with it! Metal for vents and plastic door tracking for the sliding glass doors on my vivs. Just be careful! There is no safety gaurd on this cheapo tool. It may be small but it can cut off a finger easy:eek:
 

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