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Stretching Screens

            Stretching Screens

Inserting mesh and stretching mesh in a frame is a 3 step process.  First,
the mesh has to be inserted in the frame.  Second, the corners are softened
using your thumb.  Third, the rollers of the frame are rotated to tighten
the mesh.  Later when you re-tension mesh the rollers are turned a little
more to take the slack out of the mesh that develops from the mesh relaxing.

When inserting mesh, always start from the square bar end of the frame.  When laying
the mesh over the frame, have the mesh extend over the outside edge of the
frame by ¼” and make sure the mesh threads are parallel to the
outside edge of the frame.  Then spread two fingers to either side of
the slot, and press down on the finger closest to the center of the screen.  Squeeze
the Alignment Clip, and lay the Alignment Clip against the edge of the slot
closest to the center of the screen.  Then rotate the Alignment Clip into
the slot.  The Clip pushes the mesh down into the slot.  The amount
of mesh required in the slot is the ¼” that was overlapping the
outside edge of the square bar.  Now you can see if the threads are still
parallel to the outside edge of the square bar.

An Alignment Clip should be placed at the center of the square bar and close to each end.  Then
pull the mesh at both ends of the slot to remove any wrinkles in the mesh.  Hold
the mesh at one end of the slot, and insert the locking strip to within 3” of
the opposite end.

Next, repeat the process at the opposite end of the frame.  Then repeat the process
on each side of the frame.  Step one has now been completed.

To soften corners, the two locking strips in the slots each need to be pulled back 3” from
the corner.  Then with your finger, push the mesh down ½” and
hold the mesh down while pushing the locking strips back the 3”.  Once
all four corners have been softened, you have completed step two.  The
mesh in the corners should be very loose feeling.  They cannot be too
loose, but if not loose enough, the mesh might break when the mesh is tightened
in step three.

Step three requires rotating the roller opposite the square bar first.  Start with
the wrench straight up after putting a little tension on the mesh by turning
the roller by hand.  Then pull the wrench from 90 degrees straight up
to 45 degrees towards the square bar.  Hold the wrench there while tightening
the locking bolts at the end of the short roller that is parallel to the square
bar.  When tightening the bolts push and pull the socket wrench only short
distances so you can constantly be pushing the wrench down toward the table.  You
do not want the corner of the frame to lift, or you will end up with a warped

Rotating the wrench to 45 degrees always puts the ideal tension on the mesh regardless
of mesh count.  Now rotate one of the long rollers on the side of the
frame half of 45 degrees.  When you rotate the parallel roller on the
opposite side of the frame, the tension created by the two long rollers on
the sides of the frame will equal the tension created initially by rotating
the short roller 45 degrees.  Now the tension is equal both the length
and width of the frame.  You are done until hours later when you re-tension
the mesh.

Those sloppy corners that were softened should not be pretty tight, but have some give to
the mesh.  If the frame rocks on a flat surface, the rock can be removed
easily.  There should be pads of equal thickness under the four corners
of the frame.  The rock will be diagonal across the frame.  Remove
the pad from one of those rocking corners and place your hand firmly on the
opposite corner.  Now three corners are on the pads and one corner is
up in the air.  Now push down on the corner where the pad was removed.  If
the bolts were not over tightened, the corner will give slightly.  Re-insert
the pad.  Test.  Are all four corners resting solidly on the pads,
or does the process have to be repeated until they are?

You may wonder about some companies selling mesh with plastic strips affixed to the
edges of the mesh.  Those strips avoid having to soften the corners with
your thumb.  Those strips might later become difficult to remove from
the slots in the frame.  R Jennings Mfg. does not recommend the plastic
strips, because of the cost, and risk of losing control over what mesh you
actually receive to put in the frame.

The video to watch is:

“Screen Printing’s Best Screen”

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