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Room Divider Tutorial

August 2, 2011

I have been putting off this post for several months, for no good reason. Well, lack of free time and plenty of distractions have been the main reasons why, but I really have had the desire to share this tutorial. So here we go … my room divider tutorial.

This is the finished divider in its intended location. It hides my photography backdrops and sewing stuff. (The picture quote canvas hides my sewing machine).

divider in place


This is the list of supplies I used. The plywood was 15/32″ thickness, and I don’t recommend that. So if you’re looking to build one of these, go with 5/8″ or greater. I’ll talk about that in more detail below.

    Spray adhesive – $1.30 (thrift store)
    Narrow utility hinges 2″ – $7.41 (3 packs @ $2.47 Home Depot)
    2 sheets of plywood, each cut into two 2’x6′ pieces – $30.94 (2 @ $15.47 Home Depot)
    Fabric 6 yards – $89.94 (JoAnn’s – 50% off original price)
    Batting, 2 bags Soft & Crafty hi-loft twin size – $27.49 (JoAnn’s – sale and coupon)
    Upholstery tacks, about 150 – $10 (Private supplier)


    Staple gun
    Yardstick/measuring tape

An important note – make sure your plywood isn’t bowed at all. Turns out mine was bowed a bit. The guy at Home Depot told me to put it on the floor with weights and let it sit for a couple of weeks. I ended up letting it sit for like a month, because I couldn’t get to the project. The wood was still bowed, but I went forward anyway. In reading about bowed plywood online, I learned that it never really can be fixed. So before you have the wood cut at the lumber store, put it on their concrete floor to see if it bows. Don’t buy any pieces that do. Yes, it’s more work for you and whoever is helping you there, but it’s worth it in the end.


Here are some of the supplies laid out before I began work


And a close up of the fabric I selected



The first thing that I did was mark the wood for the screws. I measured so that the hinges lined up evenly on all three boards. The center board required hinges on both sides. I placed the hinges where I wanted them, and used a pen to mark the hole placement. The line in the middle marked the exact center of the board, as I wanted the middle hinges to be, well, in the middle.

hole marks


Next, I drilled the holes. And this is where I wish I had the thicker wood. Because I went through the side on one of the pieces – luckily it was the first piece I drilled, because once I did that, I had to change hinge placement on all three pieces since I couldn’t use the holes that went through the wood.

drilled holes


Once the holes were drilled, I attached the hinges. This was a temporary step, as the hinges had to come off before the wood was covered. But I needed to make sure that it was going to work first.

first hinge


Attaching the hinges to a second board

first hinge


I stood the pieces up, and was satisfied

plywood divider connected


Before I took the hinges all of the way off, I marked which was the bottom and the top, as I wanted to make sure I didn’t get confused with the alignment. This matters when I get to the fabric attachment, as the bottom does not get any tacks. At all times, hinges were attached to one board so that I didn’t screw things up. I’m famous in this house for making stupid mistakes, and I just didn’t want to do that here.

marked hinge


Attaching the batting was next. This was pretty messy, since I was using spray adhesive. I spread a drop cloth on the floor, and then put the batting on top of that. Then the board went down. I used this method to determine where to cut the batting. I stuck pipe cleaners into the drilled holes so that they didn’t get covered by the batting. Once the batting was cut to size, I used the spray adhesive to spray the top of the wood. Then the batting was attached. I flipped the wood and batting and repeated the spray step to attach the batting to the other side.

plywood on batting


Here’s one covered board

batting covered plywood


I discovered that pipe cleaners weren’t the best thing to use for the holes, as they were too pliable. So I switched to toothpicks. I color coded them so I knew which was top and which was bottom. Black was bottom, red was top.

toothpicks batting


Measuring the fabric was a HUGE step for me … it was the most expensive part of this project, and I couldn’t afford to screw it up. The funny thing about the purchase is that JoAnn’s had the EXACT amount I needed, no more and no less. I think I bought eight yards. Anyhow, the way it worked out is that I had enough to cover two boards the way I cut it, and for the third board, I had to sew together two pieces. I knew this going into it, as I had planned it out. Of course, it’s been a few months, so I can’t remember the details anymore. *sigh* If I remember, I’ll come back and update this post.

I spread the fabric out, laid a board on it, and then cut the fabric. Cutting was a scary moment for me LOL

fabric before cut


Stapled the fabric to one side – the bottom had the fabric wrapped, as it was the only side that wouldn’t get tacks.



And made sure the toothpicks kept my screw holes

toothpicks close up2


Sadly, I don’t have any photos of the tack application in progress. I was trying to work quickly, and didn’t think about taking photos at this step. But what I did was fold the unfinished edge over and lined it up along the edge. Then I used the hammer to attach the tack. I didn’t measure, but I did use the pattern on the fabric to help determine my spacing. The first edge I did, I think I measured and ended up attaching too many tacks. So decide in advance on your spacing and stick with it.

finished tacks 3


I also attached the hinge, taking it off the board that was waiting to be covered (remember, I have hinges attached at all times so I don’t screw it up).

finished tacks


I repeated these steps for the other two boards, and when I attached the hinges, it was to the already done board(s).

divider in place 3


So, here’s the mess BEFORE the divider hid it

before divider

And another after shot

divider in place 2


I do have an important note to add … it’s been up for four months now. Jack has knocked it over twice (and he got in trouble for that, he’s not allowed behind it!). The screws came out of the top hinges on the right board (when facing the divider). I think the wood has split, but I can’t tell since it’s all covered. I tried putting in longer screws, and it’s definitely coming out the side. I don’t know if this is where I went through the wood with the drill, as it’s possible I’m putting it back into the wrong holes. Being covered with fabric and batting, I just can’t tell. I’m leaving it alone for right now, but it’s on my list of things to tackle eventually. My husband gave me a hard time about it, the day I was trying to fix it. He wanted to know why I didn’t just buy a divider, instead of going through all of this effort. Well, the reason is this – this is MY divider, I picked the fabric and the size. A similar divider at Home Goods was $299, and I had no control over the ugly fabrics.

Hopefully that all made sense. Let me know if you have any questions about the project. This is my first blog tutorial, so I feel accomplished finally having written it. Thanks for reading!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 2, 2011 1:05 pm

    Fantastic Tutorial Gwen! And Go YOU for tackling such a big project from scratch and then sharing here to help other moms too! Woo hoo!

    • coolmama72 permalink*
      August 2, 2011 1:14 pm

      Thanks, Catina! I am really proud of myself for this project (and post)

  2. April 2, 2012 2:31 pm

    interesting folding screen from Slovakia:

    • coolmama72 permalink*
      April 2, 2012 10:40 pm

      Yes, those are really neat!!!!

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