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Cut the three panels of this room divider from economical MDF. Then dress them up with a bright painted stencil design over a multicolored ombré background.
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As a convenient alternative to the free downloadable stencil that will need to be laminated after making copies, you can order a comparable stencil from Royal Design Studios. The Peacock Fancy (large) stencil, cut from 10-mil Mylar, is available for $44 plus shipping and handing.
From the two MDF sheets, cut three panels 18 inches wide by 60-1/2 inches tall.
If you don't have a table saw or circular saw, ask a Lowe's associate to cut the panels to size. Having panels cut in the store also makes them easier to transport. The 18-in-wide panels accommodate the size of the stencil. If you want to make the panels from a single sheet of MDF using a different stencil, however, cut each one 16 inches wide.
Print and assemble three copies of the Panel Top Cutting Pattern. Spray a repositionable adhesive on the back of a pattern and mount it at the top of a panel. Wear breathing protection and use a jigsaw with a fine-tooth blade to cut along the pattern line. Sand smooth, following the pattern lines. Then repeat for the other two panels.
Mix equal parts of wood glue and water (a cup of each to start), then apply to the MDF with a synthetic bristle brush. This will fill the porous faces and edges for a smoother painted finish. After the solution dries, sand the faces and edges smooth.
Coat both sides and all edges of each panel with two base coats of Polar White paint. Measure and mark each screen to divide it into eight sections 7-1/2 inches wide. Then use a carpenter's square to extend the marks from edge to edge.
Lay out the colors in the order you'll apply them from bottom to top. The order shown is Berry Blush, Hint of Cherry, Coral Passion, Iced Berry, Poppy Petal, Coral Mist, Tranquility, and Starry Woods. Open and stir each jar before beginning.
Use a 2-inch or 3-inch angled bristle brush and horizontal strokes to fill in each section of a panel so the colors touch but don't overlap. Repeat for the other two panels and let the paint dry for an hour.
To blend the sections with an ombré effect, start with the bottom section color and brush over the top portion of the previously painted surface. One brush width away from the next section, load the brush with the color from that section and brush the border between sections to blend the colors. Repeat for the remaining sections, cleaning your brush in between.
Measure and mark 1 inch in from each edge and lay painter's tape against, but not covering, the lines. Use a narrow roller or brush to paint the border, doing the curved areas by hand with a brush (Bee Pollen shown). Let the first coat dry, and repeat for a second coat. Do the same for the other two panels.
Print the downloadable screen stencil and assemble the stencils. Protect them with shipping tape and cut out the designs.
A time-saving alternative to printing stencils is to purchase the Peacock Fancy wall stencil (large) from Royal Design Studio (www.royaldesignstudio.com). If you use this stencil, tape over or cover one of the vertical rows of the pattern on one side.
Center the stencil on the upper portion of the panel, leaving equal spaces between the borders. Load paint (Bee Pollen shown) on a 4-in roller, roll off the excess on paper towels, and lightly go over the stencil. Avoid pressing too hard and forcing paint beneath the stencil edges. Leave the stencil in place.
After the paint dries, apply a top coat of Pale Glow with another roller. Gently lift off the stencil when the paint dries to the touch and reposition it for the next series of designs.
Place two panels face to face and a third back to back with the middle panel, keeping the bottom ends flush, and gently clamp them together. Use a square to draw the hinge locations about 4 inches from the bottom and 4 inches from where the curves begin at the top.
Don't skip the pilot holes when drilling into the edges of MDF. Although the faces of an MDF sheet are extremely hard, the edges are soft enough to split if you drive screws without pilot holes.
Align a hinge with the pencil mark with the outside edge of the hinge leaf even with the face of the screen. Use a self-centering bit to drill pilot holes for the hinge screws.
Clamp the MDF before driving screws to help prevent splitting. Then dip the hinge screws in wood glue and drive them in place by hand to anchor one hinge leaf. Repeat for the other hinge on the same edge. Then repeat for the remaining hinges, and remember to first drill pilot holes for the screws.