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Premium Member
370 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thanks everyone for all the ideas here.

I've wanted a new screen for a while - I had a pull down 4:3 da-lite that I paid $330 for - and after a few years of use a few things had changed - I had sold the old projector and gotten a 16x9, and I started noticing that the pull down dalite wasn't perfectly flat - it had some gentle ripples.

Neither of these were show stoppers and I've enjoyed my setup - but in the back of my mind - a new screen was on my upgrade radar. I had figured that a new screen would run me $600-$900 - as such it wasn't something I thought I'd do anytime soon.

Then I started reading about DIY screens -

There were several options that looked really appealing, and best of all, none of them seemed very expensive - I think the most I could have spent was $250 if I went all out.

I started reading up and getting samples of the Wilsonart Laminates thanks to WBassett, Mechman, and others hear at the shack.

Wanting it to be absolutely perfect, I started thinking of exactly how I wanted my screen - how big, what kind of border, how to mount the laminate, etc...

Not sure if anyone can relate, but for these kinds of things, I can get pretty caught up in the "ultimate design" and can easily spend a lot of time before commiting to build something.

Then one day I read a post about someone who built a simple frame with 1x4's and used some black out cloth from jo-annes to make a screen for under $99.

That really caught my attention, and I felt, that for under $99, I could build one of those now - even if I replaced it later with a better design.

Immediate benefits are that I no longer have any ripples, and I have a very nice 3 1/2 inch velvet covered border (my old 4x3 was a pull down - black spray painted border)

I decided on a 2.4:1 screen, and picked 50x120 - I liked the size, and the math works out to nice even numbers - easy to measure and cut.

I'll be using the screen 2 ways - for 2.4:1 movies, I zoom my projector so the movie perfectly fits in the 50x120 the frame. For 16x9 sources, I zoom the projector back in so that the image is 50x89.

For the final phase of my "build", I bought some of that pink foam board from home depot, and cut out 2 panels of roughly 50x15.5 each, and will cover them with velvet - to mask the screen down to 16x9.


So far I am thrilled with the results - We watched Harry Potter (2.4:1) and it really had a nice movie theater feel to it - The black velvet does a great job of absorbing the spillover light from the projector and you're really not aware that the projector has been zoomed. It's a much better feeling than watching it on a 16x9 with black bars at the top and bottom.

Playing xbox in the 50x89 area is also great - I had experimented with different screen sizes (thinking bigger would be better) what I found was, I played much better in the games when the screen size was big, but not huge - too small a screen and the detail was hard to see - too big a screen and there was too much to take in without moving the eyes back and forth.

- Jack

Premium Member
370 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The Contruction of my new < $99 - 2.4:1 screen

I recently built a DIY 2.4:1 screen.....

50 inches tall, 120 wide (130 diagonal)

I don't have contruction pictures, but I'll outline what I did...

Frame: 5 boards total:
2x 1x4x12 foot 'select' from menards, $10 each
2x 1x4x6 foot 'quality' from menards, $2 each
1x 1x3x8 foot "select' from menards, $5
Wood total: $29

2 packages "L" brackets from wallmart $2 each
hardware total: $4

4.5 yards of black velvet from Joannes $12.99/yd, less 40% coupon
4 yards of blackout cloth from joannes $2.99/yd, less 10% coupon
Fabric total $46

Foam board: (to mask the 2.4 screen down to 1.78)
1 sheet pink 1/2 x 4x8 cut down to 2 panels of 50x15.5 $7.49
1 can spray adhesive $7
Masking total $15

Project total: $94

Tools used:
Table saw
Miter saw
hand Staple gun
Air staple gun

I began by cutting 45 degree cuts on each end of the 4 1x4 boards - so that the inside dimensions were 120 on the longer 2 and 50 on the shorter two - I discarded the scraps.

That concluded the use of the miter saw.

Next I used the table saw, and cut the 1x3 down to 2 inches (a 1x3 is really .75 by 2.5 - so now its .75x2.0)
I then tilted the blade of the table saw to 30 degrees and cut the .75x2.0 piece lengthwise to make a french cleat to hang the screen.

That completed the cutting on the french cleat.

Lasly, I used the table saw to cut a few grooves on the back sides of the 1x4's -
I used these grooves for my staples, I'll try and provide a picture or drawing at some point in the future...

That concluded the use of the table saw...

I then used my router with a 1/4 inch rounding bit and rounded the edges of the 1x4s (only the audience facing edges, no the back sides)

That complted my use of the router.

Now I laid the black velvet face down on a setup table and put the board on top of the velvet.
I stapled the velvet to the boards on the backside, wraping around the front and stapled again on the back.

I then laid all 4 pieces on the floor in the theater room, face down.
I used the 'L' Brackets to screw them together.
measured both diagonals to ensure it was square.
installed the Blackout cloth - vinyl side down and stapled with the hand stapler (Hand staples are easier to remove than the air powered stapler.

Lastly I attached the french cleat to the frame, and to the wall.

Total project time - about a full day, including shopping.
Total project cost - $95 plus tax

Premium Member
8,367 Posts
Re: The Contruction of my new < $99 - 2.4:1 screen

Good one Jack..:T.

The old BOC screen has been around for a long time and is still a favourite with many people..Probably because nothing is needed to be added to it,and its very low price..

I must say however, that it's not a brilliant screen and there are many other materials that perform better...particullarly the laminates..They are more expensive admittedly, but you only get what you pay for..

In the meantime..enjoy your new screen...

Premium Member
370 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
1 year follow up: The Construction of my new < $99 - 2.4:1 screen

Follow up - one year later...
It's been a year since I made this screen...

There are some pictures of the screen here:

Basically after having the screen for 1 year, I still love the thing! It still looks fantastic, Blackout cloth is still perfectly flat and stretched.

I can't recommend it enough for anyone looking for a good DIY screen - especialy given the cost - what was meant to be a temporary screen to hold me over until I could build something better, has turned out to be the best screen I could ask for!

I have some additional comments after having used it for this long...
comment 1:
When I bought the velvet, I think I spent an hour in the store comparing one velvet to another, worried about the 'shine'. When I got it home and in the darker room, I realized how unnecessary my agony was, and that I could have gone with the cheapest stuff they had and still been happy (I think I went with the 2nd cheapest -I definately did not buy the really expensive stuff)

Comment 2:
I made a 'french cleat' out of a 1x3x3/4 to hang the screen.
What I didn't do is account for the top of the screen being 3/4 farther away from the wall.
If you use this method, do yourself a favor and nail a small piece of wood to the bottom corners (from the back) so that the screen doesn't angle down slightly.

Comment 3 - The perfect material for my layout...
My Projector is right over my head - about 18 inches over it.
That means that any screen that reflects light with mirror like properties (laminate, glass bead, aluminum flakes etc..) is going to hotspot. The blackout cloth doesn't do this so it's perfect for my setup.

Comment 4 - My decision to make this a 2.4 wide screen with masks to pull it down to 1.78
While the screen is primarly used in 1.78 mode for video games and tv, I still find myself converting it to 2.4 mode when I watch a movie (especially so if company is coming over).
The 2.4 'look' is stunning and continues to take my breath away.
I am so glad I did this...

Comment 5 - my cheap masks - if you read the materials list, you know I spent all of $15 on the foamboard and glue to make the side mask panels - these cover up the unused section of the 2.4 wide screen, bringing it's width to 1.78 times the height.
These things are Awesome and a must have, but the whole friction fit thing isn't perfect. Still good enough for my needs, and so cheap that I could replace them for next to nothing...

In summary -
This is the single best $95 upgrade I have made in my home theater to date!

- Jack
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