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Fire screen attachment

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Rivet the screen between the front frame and a smaller back frame.  If your frame is something like 1/4" by 2", make the back frame 1/8" by 1" and center it on the front frame so it's not very visible from the front.  Clamp or tack weld the two frames together, drill your rivet holes thru both at the same time.  Stretch the screen as tight as you can, and assemble with nuts and bolts so you can make adjustments if needed.  Once everything is tight and you are happy with the screen, replace the bolts one at a time with rivets.


You can cut screen with a small oxy welding tip with the oxy turned up high, this makes the mesh of the screen melt and ball up rather than be a jagged flesh ripper like you get when mechanically cutting screen.  

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Black water,

The frame is basically designed as as two layer arrangement. The outer frame is heavy and the backing frame can be lighter gauge. The wire should be flat to start. Lay it out and softly take out any kinks or bends on a flat layout table. Spend time doing this because it is very difficult to do once everything is assembled.

Lay out the screen on the completed frame assembly. Tack one corner and stretch the screen taught in the longer of the two dimensions, keep the grid aligned, don't let it go off square. We use a couple sheet metal vice grips and (gently) lever against the frame edge. You don't have to use a lot of force, don't distort the screen. Once that running edge is tacked and secure, if you have any overhang, cut it clean. Start the same process in the other direction, keep it square. Tack as required along the frame while keeping the screen taught. A tack pattern of 2 inches works well. Note, don't bend the frame to stretch the screen, keep the frame flat. When completed the screen to frame assembly has to lie flat cold, otherwise it will bow and look bent and you will not be pleased. Complete the assembly by adding the backing pieces, rivet, screw or plug weld. If you are using screws, drill and fit everything before the screen is in place.

On the frame, make sure you have done all the finishing and grinding before you get the screen in the process because it is easy to screw up the screen with grinders and wire wheels. Once assembled I usually sandwich the assembly with cardboard and plywood so the screen doesn't not get dented or otherwise distorted before installation. If it sounds overtly protective, believe me it's easier than having to replace an already assembled screen.

Suggested reading, Fireplace Accessories, Schiffer press. Lots of good ideas and a pictorial on one smiths assembly technique. I have used a lot of ideas I saw in this publication.

Happy New Year,

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I've built in excess of 50 firescreens over the years so the following tips may be helpful.


It's very important to get the screen as flat as possible before installation.  The best way I have found is to run it through a slip roll to purposely curl it back against the original coil set then adjust the rolls outward and flip the screen back and forth until it comes out flat.  This is a much better method than trying to iron it smooth on a table - which always seems to leave a few dimples.  The repeated rolling also cold works the wire a bit and you won't have to do much stretching - just lay it on the frame and go to riveting.


I clamp the backer strips to the frame and drill through both pieces so the rivet holes line up - make sure you mark each backer bar so you'll know both sequence and orientation (I use a combination of alpha and punch marks to guard against mixing).


I also have some custom tongs I made which have pivoting jaws that are forged to match my normal screen patterns.  These will reach over most frames and allow me to easily stretch some areas if necessary.


Finally, I use a zip wheel to trim screen edges next to the frame - it's fast and leaves a nice cut.


Contoured screens present additional challenges but the basics still apply.


Good luck and have fun...

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I make frames from 3/8" round bar then wrap the mesh around the bar using a purpose made set of tongs; a piece of 3/8" pipe split lengthwise, 3" long welded to a set of tongs perpendicular to the reins. The mesh is cut a little long with good snips and wrapped and tightened easily. 


A different style. 

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