After watching several YouTube videos about DIY Silk Screen Printing, I'm almost ready to give it a go. I've built my own wooden frames. I have almost all the gear I need, just waiting for the photo emulsion to arrive today.

But, I just realized that part of the process is to wash out the photo emulsion after exposure to the light. And it just hit me: is this going to ruin my wooden frame? Is there something I should do to the wood before applying the photo emulsion and later washing it out?

Or is there some other recommendation / tip when using wooden frames?

  • I'm not qualified to answer your question, but you might consider that it's better suited to the woodworking SE, along the lines of how to waterproof (if needed) your frame prior to assembly.
    – fred_dot_u
    Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 21:23
  • Thanks @fred_dot_u. Good idea. Through more searching, I also found another SE that seems to be relevant: graphic design SE. Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 10:02
  • 2
    It's interesting that you are considering graphic design for your question. The foundation of your question is how to prevent damage to a wooden frame.
    – fred_dot_u
    Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 15:44
  • re: Graphic Design, there's some logic to going to a site with a concentration of people who have experience with silk screen printing, but I'm not sure this question would be on-topic there. It's kind of tangential to the site's subject matter.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 19:28

2 Answers 2


Looking through some YouTube videos on creating one's own screens, it is indeed remarkable how few people consider this, so it might not matter a lot short-term, but if the wood of your frame is untreated, and you're planning on reusing it, I would definitely coat it, as the frame will get exposed to a lot of liquids: not only the photosensitive emulsion, but emulsion remover, water, and a variety of inks, as well.

I'd suggest treating the wooden frame with a couple of polyurethane coatings to improve its water and solvent resistance.
Another way is to impregnate the wood with (flaxseed) oil to at least give it some water resistance, but the efficacy might depend on the type of wood used.

  • 1
    thank you so much! Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 10:00
  • 2
    If you're going to go to the effort to coat the frame for longevity, it would make sense to use waterproof glue on the joints when you assemble the frame to seal the ends, which are the most porous area, and liquids will wick into the joints (very hard to get a good and complete seal on the joints with just a surface coating).
    – fixer1234
    Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 19:12
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    excellent point. forgot to consider that. will investigate. Commented Sep 27, 2022 at 21:32

Short answer: No. We used wooden frames in a t-shirt shop and they were exposed to both the rinse of the emulsion, the cleaning out of the pigments between uses and the solvents used to erase the screen before the next application of emulsion. They were fine, they just get stained.

I am sure the wood was properly sealed in the making of the screen. But even raw wood would be fine as long as they are not soaking in the water for extended periods. The screen will go before the wood rots away.

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