Skateboard Silk Screen Press

How to Make a Silk Screen Press

Approximate Cost: $45
Easy | | | | | Difficult
Materials needed
  ♠   3/4" plywood or MDF
♠   Box of 1 1/4" screws
♠   Staples or Glue
♠   Silk Screen
♠   Hinges
♠   3/16" Dowel rod
Tools needed
  ♠   Tape Measure & Pencil
♠   Jig saw
♠   Staple or glue gun
♠   Wood Glue
♠   Drill or screwdriver
♠   1/16" Drill bit
♠   Duct tape

How to make a Silk Screen Press

Do you want to know how to make a silk screen press to silk screen skateboard decks from nose to tail? Then keep reading.

This silk screen press should work on most double kick tail skateboards, but you may need to tweak the design for your particular deck. Before you get started, please read the entire article and try to have a good understanding of the process.

Also, keep in mind that each skateboard is a little bit different from each other and you may have to do some figuring of your own on this press - gasp! This is just the general idea.


Quick note about these. You can not use the emulsion technique with this curved screen. Do some research on "Drawing Fluid" for more information on the alternate technique.

Gather the materials called for in the material list to your right. The wood and hinges should easily be found at most home improvement stores such as Lowe's, Home Depot or Menard's

The actual silk screen material and other supplies used for screening the skateboard can be found at local hobby stores like Michaels, Hobby lobby, etc... Also take a look at online stores such as Blick Art Materials for a larger selection.

This set of plans covers how to make a silk screen press for skateboards, not how to do the silk screening itself. I will cover silk screening and graphics in a separate set of articles later

Printing - How to make a Silk Screen Press

Start by printing out these four pdf drawings for the sides of the press.

PDF Drawings - Silk Screen Press for Skateboards

Make sure these drawings are printed to scale, filling up four an 8 1/2" x 11" sheets of paper. I have included a 2" logo on these drawings which you can measure to check scale.

Click here if you need Adobe PDF Reader.

Frame Sides

Trace, or spray adhesive the printed drawings onto the 3/4" thick wood for the sides.

Cut Sides - Silk Screen Press for Skateboards

Once traced, cut them out and set them aside. You will need two sides for this silk screen press.

Frame Ends

Now cut the three pieces of 3/4" thick wood to 1' × 2" for the ends.

Cut Ends - Silk Screen Press for Skateboards

Base assembly

Cut a piece of 3/4" wood to 1'-1 × 3'-1 for the base.

Base Assembly - Silk Screen Press for Skateboards

Place one of the previously cut 1' × 2" ends on the base 1/2" in on the sides and end as shown below. Use 1 1/4" screws and wood glue to attach it to the base and set it aside for now.

Frame Assembly

Using the remaining two ends, attach them to each side with 1 1/4" screws (two per connection) and a bit of wood glue. Pre-drill the screw hole locations with a 1/16" drill bit to avoid splitting.

Frame Assembly - How to make a Silk Screen Press for Skateboards

When assembling the frame, it's a good idea to construct it on a level surface. Making it easier to keep it square, which is essential to a good screen press.

Stretching the Fabric

After the frame has been assembled, you can stretch the silk screen fabric over it.

You can use hot melt glue or staples and a staple gun to attach the fabric to the frame. If you choose staples, you will need to reinforce the fabric by covering the edges with duct tape and folding it over, leaving about 3/4" to staple through. This keeps the fabric from ripping.

Stretching the Fabric - How to make a Silk Screen Press for Skateboards

To stretch the fabric, start at one end and secure it to the frame, then work your way down the sides until you reach the other end and attach it there as well. Your goal is to stretch the fabric as tight as possible onto the frame without causing it to tear.

Stretching the silk screen fabric material as tight as possible allows the fabric to remove cleanly (pop) from the skateboard deck once the ink has been spread onto the deck. Creating the cleanest image possible. You also want to make sure you have no ripples or kinks in the fabric and the frame is level and square or it will ruin the artwork.

I have also attached fabric starting from the center of a frame and worked my way out from there.
I don't know if this technique will work with this kind of press though - experiment!

Hinge Assembly

Once you have the frame assembled and the third end attached to the base, place two hinges about 6 inches apart on the top of the end attached to the base, centered.

Hinge Assembly - How to make a Silk Screen Press for Skateboards

You can use a variety of hinges here, although there are specific hinges made for silk screen presses which can lock the frame in place and also allow quick removal of the frame. Something to look into if you're going to be using your silk screen press often.

These hinges may be obtained at the previously mentioned art supply stores.

Hinge Assembly... continued

Place the previously completed silk screen press frame onto the base and make sure the hinges line up perfectly, then attach them to the frame, then to each other.

Hinge Assembly - How to make a Silk Screen Press for Skateboards

Test out the frame to be sure it swings freely without resistance.

Deck Guides

In order for the silk screen press to work effectively, you will need a way of keeping the deck securely in place while applying the ink.

Deck Guides - How to make a Silk Screen Press for Skateboards

That's where these deck guides come into play. Make two of these little squares by cutting a piece of 3/4" wood to the size shown above and placing two 3/16" dowel rods into the holes drilled.

Once assembled, place a deck onto the base of your new silk screen press and line up the dowel rods with the truck holes in the skateboard deck. Mark the location with a sharpie or pencil and attach them to the base with 1 1/4" screws. Be sure to double check each one after attaching them so they line up.

If done properly, these will hold the deck securely in place while printing the graphics.


Add a little wooden kickstand that's about a foot long in the center of the press to hold it up while removing the decks and you are done.

Finished Silk Screen Press for Skateboards

How to print with this screen press

When printing with a press like this, it is almost impossible to use the traditional photo emulsion technique. That is essentially where you expose the screen with light and chemicals. I can not get this method to work on a curved screen, so I use drawing fluid and screen filler technique.

You may have to do some tweaking and a little trial and error to get what works for you but that's about all there is to it. To learn more about the process of screen printing, google "screen printing". To be honest, there's no reason for me to re-invent what is already out there on the subject, especially since that's one area I have the least amount of knowledge in, in regards to skateboard manufacturing.

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