How to Build an Indoor Bamboo Privacy Screen
We wanted to create a smaller version of an outdoor bamboo fence that was suitable for use indoors. The goal was to produce something with a bit more finish that could cover up some unsightly wires in our front office lobby. We started with a roll of mahogany stained bamboo fencing. We chose the mahogany bamboo finish because it had a darker color that we felt complimented our interior better. Natural or black bamboo could have easily been used by choosing a different stain color for the wood framing. One interesting thing to note is the mahogany bamboo fencing is actually darker than the black bamboo fence rolls.
The first step was to determine the approximate finished dimensions of our bamboo divider. After some measurements we settled on a finished size of 39 by 90 inches. This would allow maximum screening for the back of the desk we were trying to conceal while still maintaining line of sight between people on either side of the divider.
Once we had our target dimensions we determined the sizes for all the materials we were going to use to complete this project. First was the rolled bamboo fencing. For our purposes the 1 inch by 4 by 8 foot bamboo roll was best. The one inch bamboo size refers to the average diameter of the bamboo canes. Bamboo is a naturally created product, so the canes vary slightly in diameter. The good thing about the way we built this bamboo screen is that we only had to account for the largest of the cane diameters. More on that in a bit.
With the rolled bamboo fencing selected we set about determining the best material to create a frame for our screen. For the two side posts we found some 2 x 2 inch pine. For the top and bottom we used two pieces of 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch pine. Finally we needed four pieces of 1 5/8 x 1/2 inch pine for our upper and lower retainers. We bought each piece of wood about 10% bigger than we planned on using it just in case we made some calculation errors. We also picked up some 4d 1 1/2 inch and 16d 3 1/2 inch fasteners to hold it all together.
With our bamboo and framing materials selected, we set about cutting everything to size. First up was the bamboo fencing. We carefully bent out the two wires that held the roll together on one side. Then we removed individual canes of bamboo until we got the proper length of 84 inches. We had to reorder some of the individual canes to get the best fit.
We then needed to cut the fencing down to 38 inches tall. We marked our cut line using a 2 x 4 and a sharpie and then cut the bamboo using a skill saw with a 2 x 4 underneath to make room for the blade. Looking at the bamboo fencing carefully, it was apparent which side to cut from. On one side, the bamboo canes were cut right at a joint creating a nice closed end. On the other end some of the canes were open and some were closed. This is the end that we cut from. Next time around we are going to try a different blade because the Skill saw definitely left chipped edges on the bamboo. This was not a huge problem because we were able to cover the chipping using our retaining pieces of framing wood.
With the bamboo fencing cut to size, we turned our attention to the framing materials. First we cut the end pieces. This was easy they needed to be exactly the same height as the bamboo, 38 inches. Next we cut the four pieces of retaining wood. These needed to be long enough to go across our bamboo roll and the side posts which came out to be 88 1/4 inches. Once the pieces were cut to the proper length we used a chop saw to cut the ends at a 45 degree angle. This created a more finished look for our screen.
The final bit of framing was the top and bottom pieces. Our design called for the top and bottom pieces to extend an inch on each side making these a total of 90 inches. We also notched the corners at a 45 degree angle.
Bamboo screen materials laid out before assembly.
With all the pieces cut, we laid everything out to see if it would fit. It looked good so we were ready to stain our framing pieces. We wanted a dark, antiqued color for the frame of the wood. We really didn’t like any of the stain colors on their own so we mixed equal parts of Minwax #209 Natural and #2716 Dark Walnut. This gave us a color that was dark with golden highlights. Using our custom mixture we stained our wood using a one inch brush and an old rag.
Once all the framing pieces were dry we were ready for final assembly! Our first task was to create a bottom trough with side posts to put our bamboo in. First we attached our two end posts to the bottom of the screen frame using our 16d 3 1/2 inch nails. Then we started two rows of 1 1/2 fasteners by hammering them about half way into our bottom piece of wood. Then we lined up our bottom retaining piece and carefully drove the nails the rest of the way in. Then we used some more of the small nails to attach the retaining pieces to the end posts.
With the frame bottom built we turned our attention to the top. Repeating the same process we created our top trough with the top of the frame and the two top retaining pieces. Now we were left with three pieces, the bottom of our frame, the roll of bamboo and the top of our frame. First we put the bamboo into the bottom of the frame then we simply slid the top piece of the frame from one end of the screen to the other. With everything lined up, we attached the top of the frame to the end posts with our large nails and the top retaining pieces to the end posts with our small nails.
After carefully checking to make sure the screen was constructed exactly the way we wanted, we countersunk each of the nails and applied wood putty to cover the holes. After a little touch up stain to cover the wood putty our bamboo privacy screen was ready to move into location into our office lobby. We could have opted to fasten the screen to the wall but instead we chose to attach it to the front of a desk using black hemp twine and some wood screws in the desk.
Next time we might try to use some liquid nails to attach the top and bottom frame pieces to the bamboo roll. It might give it a little more rigidity but honestly we did not have a problem as there is not going to be much of a load applied on the screen.
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