Sunday, June 12, 2011

DIY Shoji Screen Headboard Part 1

Well, my "weekend project" took more than one weekend, but that's okay, because we learned some new skills and had fun in the process - which is always the best part of doing it yourself.

First, we started with a plan to build our own shoji-screen head board - which you all helped us decide on here. (Thank you! It was a close poll!)

We picked up some materials from Home Depot:

Specifically, for one queen sized headboard:

10 sticks of 3/8" x 3/8" x 36" hard wood
28 feet of square 3/4" hard wood
1 small can of wood stain

Additionally, we also used the following to build the frame:

four 2" clamps
a rubber sanding block with fine and coarse sand paper
a couple small paint brushes
a coping saw
wood glue
four #6 1-1/4" flat top screws

and two "support legs" made from two 3' lengths square 3/4" hard wood and four additional #6 1-1/4" flat top screws

(I'll provide the cost breakdown at the end of the project!)

To start, cut the wood down to the sizes needed.  The nice thing about this project is that the wood pieces were relatively thin, making it easy to cut with a small saw.  We haven't yet graduated to a "real" saw (i.e. something involving a power cord), so small wood projects will suffice for now!

I cut the small 3/8" pieces of wood into the following (make each cut a tad larger than the amounts stated.  Better to have to sand down a few millimeters than to be a few short!):

6 sticks 19.5" long
4 sticks 32" long (technically 31-13/16", but that's a ridiculous measurement)
4 sticks 2-5/8" long
4 sticks 5" long (I know five are shown in the picture above, but one was just a test piece!)

These pieces will serve as the inlay design for the screen.  You can see which design won the vote!

Meanwhile, Sak cut the bigger, 3/4" pieces. He clamped the long pieces to the craft table for extra support.

He cut:

6 pieces 42" long
6 pieces 21" long

We wanted a secure connection for the main frame pieces, so Sak chose to notch the ends of the 3/4" wood.

This allowed him to put the corners together like a puzzle, for better grip!

Use simple wood glue to hold the frame together, and clamp the corners while it dries.

Next, it's time for the fun part!  Staining!

I wanted something slightly shiny, but not quite lacquer looking.  I chose a stain rather than a paint simply because I'd never stained anything on purpose before, and it sounded fun.

But before we get to the brushing, we must first sand.
Use a coarse grit first, to get rid of any burrs formed from the saw.

Then follow up with a finer grit, to smooth the wood down as much as possible. I tried to remove the wood dust particles with a Swiffer cloth, but it liked to snag on the wood. Definitely get the dust off before applying the stain, but probably not a good idea to use a clingy cloth to do so.

Set up a staining station, like this obviously amazing job of taped up garbage bags.
Pro-tip: If you get any on your skin, wash it off right away! After the first coat, my hands looked like I was burn victim, and I was screaming and screaming thinking it would never come off.  Sak, luckily, found the bottle of Goo-Gone, and I was saved! But not my feet, which two weeks later still have stain on them!

Here's what one coat looks like:

I used two coats as per the recommendations on the can (with light sanding in between), and the outcome was terrific!
Just the right amount of glossy and no stinky paint smell!

Next we'll complete the inlay and have some shoji screen magic!


  1. It's looking so great! You two are so talented with all of your impressive DIYs :)

  2. wow i'm so impressed with you guys (i say that all the time)! staining something on crack me up...

  3. hm, not sure if my comment went through. just wanted to say that i'm so impressed!

  4. Wow, it looks awesome so far - I can't wait to see how it turns out!

  5. Very impressive indeed! I think mineral spirits or acetone will take off any leftover stain residue, but I'm always too lazy and walk around with paint-discolored limbs. (Black spray painted toes, this Can't wait to see the next part of the project!

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