This Article is About
trash
bad shape
dremel tool
woodworker
Turning Trash Into Treasure
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One day while driving through my neighborhood I saw an old, dilapidated shoji screen laying next to the curb. Someone had left it on the curb for bulky pickup. For those of you who don't know what a shoji screen is, it's a japanese partition. It has three panels held together with hinges. Shoji screens come in various sizes and colors. The one I found that day was 60" tall, and the individual panels were 24"wide. They have long, thin, square lattice wood in each panel that help to support the rice paper in each panel.

The shoji screen that I had found that day was in very bad shape. The rice paper panels were pretty much nonexistent, and the hinges were badly rusted.

Being a woodworker and an artist, I saw past all that ugliness and could visualize a truly beautiful treasure transforming out of that beat-up old screen.

So I parked my truck next to the curb and put the screen into my truck and took it home.

The first thing I did was disassemble the panels. I unscrewed the hinges and used a dremel tool to grind off all the rust on the hinges. I then sprayed on a rust inhibiting primer, and after that dried. I painted the hinges silver.

After disassembling the panels completely, I tossed the lattice wood and rice paper. The wooden frames of the panels were still in good condition. The wood looked like ash, a very hard wood which is impervious to termites.

I then sanded all the wooden pieces, cut the long pieces down to 50", and reassembled the panels, using waterproof glue and nails. The reason I cut the long sides down to 50' was because I was making a kid's game called "Keiki Fish Pond". The word "keiki" means children in Hawaiian. Since this game is for kids I couldn't make it too high.

I purchased three 1/8" thick masonite panels and used nails and glue to attach the masonite to the screen frames. Since the screen was going outdoors I sprayed on an exterior spar varnish to protect the shoji screen from the rain. I covered the panels with decorative blue fabric covered with pictures of clown fishes( like Nemos). I attached plastic glides on the bottom of the panels to keep the screen from touching the ground.

Next, the artistic side of me took over. I got a piece of exterior plywood, cut it into the shape of a fish. This was going to be my sign. I painted the fish pink with the words "Keiki Fish Pond" on the fish.

Adding lights to the shoji screen and fish illuminated the game so kids could see it at night. The game proved to be a big hit with the kids.


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