Make a Mould and Deckle for Handmade Paper – Cheap, Quick & Dirty

tutorial & instructions - making a mould and deckle for handmade paper

Make handmade paper on the cheap! You may have seen our tutorial on making blender paper from junk mail and scrap papers. Well, here’s instructions on how to make a mould and deckle — it’s an essential piece of equipment for the hand papermaking process. Of course, you can also purchase a professional mould; peruse our list of papermaking suppliers.

This mould & deckle is not exactly beautiful — actually, it’s ugly — but it sure does the job when you’re on a budget!

At its most reduced form, a hand mould and deckle (in western style papermaking) is simply 2 separate frames of the same size. One happens to have some sort of screening attached (the mould). The other frame stays loose (the deckle). When the deckle is laid on top of the mould, it forms the edge of a piece of paper.

Easy, right? Watch the video!

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Supplies for making a mould and deckle for hand papermaking


  • 2 picture frames – same size, with everything removed – you should be left with just the frames
  • Hardware Cloth – a type of stiff wire mesh used for fencing, screen doors, etc.
  • Window screening – use aluminum, not fiberglass
  • Foam Weatherstrip Tape – it’s adhesive on one side, and usually used for doors & windows
  • Staple gun & staples
  • Duct Tape
  • Wire cutters
  • Optional: polyurethane & paintbrush

Supplies & How-to tutorial for making a mould deckle for hand papermaking


Cut down the hardware cloth and window screening, using your wire cutters and junky scissors. You’ll want to make them both the same size, and just slightly larger than the picture frame size.

DIY instructions for making a papermaking mold and deckle


Find the flattest side of one picture frame. Layer the hardware cloth and window screening on the frame. The window screening should be on top.

Staple the sandwiched layers to the frame. Make sure the screen layers are flat and taut before you start using the staple gun.

A good trick is to first place a staple at the center of each edge. From there, keep going around from side to side, working your way outward from each center staple.

DIY instructions for mold & deckle - handmade paper


Trim off the excess edges, or any violent-looking wires.

Now, time for everyone’s favorite fix-it solution — duct tape! Cover all four edges, making sure not to go past the interior edge of the frame.

Cheap, Easy, Tutorial for making a mould & deckleLast but not least – make the deckle! Take the second picture frame (that you haven’t touched yet) and apply foam weatherstrip tape. It’s adhesive, and you’ll want to apply on the flatter backside of the frame, all around the edges. This creates quite a tight seal, and prevents pulp from leaking out between the mould & deckle when you’re forming sheets.

How to make a mold & deckle for making handmade paper

This tutorial is good for smaller, hand-sized moulds. For anything bigger than around 8″ x 10″, the center of the mould might start to sag, causing issues with sheet formation. You can try cutting and gluing a piece of fluorescent lighting egg crate to fit the backside of the mould, for that extra support.

Also, if your frames need it, you can seal the wood with waterproofing polyurethane. Do this before you begin these steps, making sure to let the polyurethane dry.

Mould & Deckle for Hand Papermaking - supply list, instructions, video

For some essential mould & deckle nerdery:


As ever,
May Babcock






17 thoughts on “Make a Mould and Deckle for Handmade Paper – Cheap, Quick & Dirty

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  3. I am planning on trying this but have some questions. In the picture of the deckle it looks like the weatherstrip tape doesn’t go to the inner edge of the back of the frame, is that a problem? It also looks like the open area of screen on the mold is smaller than the opening of the deckle. It looks like the frames were the same size but after using the duck tape the mold opening got smaller. Wouldn’t the deckle not work if it is larger than the mold? I got some frames that aren’t exactly the same size and am wondering what to do with them. Should I just have the deckle be the one that is a tiny bit smaller? Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Heather, the weatherstrip tape looks like it doesn’t go to the inner edge because the picture frame has an extra, higher lip. Same goes for the duct tape view. The deckle weatherstrip tape actually fits snuggly and lined up with the inner edge of the duct tape. For your frames, that would make sense to make the smaller frame the deckle, since the pulp will want to slide right off the duct tape on the mould edge. Hope that helps! – May

  4. Hi, I have a screen printing screen lying around and I was wondering if this would work well for making paper; the mesh is really fine, but water is able to pass through it. I don’t know if the screen is too fine for paper making though; my main concern is that it won’t drain well or at all with the paper pulp on the screen. Should I just make a mould and deckle from scratch? Thanks!

    • Hi Joslyn, if it’s a fine mesh count, then drainage will be very, very slow—you’ll be waiting as the water drains through before you can couch. You could maybe test it before making your mould? Hope that helps,
      – May

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  10. Hi, I was wondering what types of felts you used. It’s the one thing I can’t find through any papermaking books or websites. I’m looking to buy yardage online to cut pieces around 15″ x 20″ hopefully before next semester. Have you tried synthetic or crafts felts? I’ve seen ones purchased from Joannes that held up to students but not sure of the fiber content.

    • Hi Robyn, I used old wool army blankets from a surplus store. I haven’t tried synthetic felts, but they should have absorbency. – May

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