As a herb grower, aside from my gardening tools, my herb screens are most used pieces of equipment. Herb screens are essentially wooden frames which hold in place a piece of steel mesh or woven wire and have a whole load of uses from the storage and drying of fresh plant material, to garbling and processing dried herbs to seed collection and sorting. They can vary from huge screens the size of dining tables to more portable options. They are available to buy, but it’s also pretty simple to make one yourself. In this article I will give you a step by step guide to making your own herb screen.
Benefits of Using a Herb Screen
One of the things I love the most about using a herb screen for garbling dried herbs is quick processing of plant material into uniform size while filtering out the parts we may not want such as thick or woody stems. This makes preparing homegrown medicinal or culinary herbs into cut and sifted herbs for resale or for teas, tinctures, infused oils and other botanical products a breeze. These screens are also stackable and can be made to fit into a rack for drying herbs in a small space.
The Screen – If you are planning to use the screens for processing and not just drying herbs, you should be mindful of the material your screen is made of. A good food grade stainless steel such as 304 or 316 works perfectly for this application. It is substantial enough to take repeated processing and yet corrosion-resistant and it won’t transfer any dangerous particles, such as lead, to your plant material. The gauge of the wire is also a consideration. Too high a gauge and the holes in the mesh will be too small for plant material to be processed and too low a gauge and the wire mesh won’t stop larger pieces of plant material such as stems falling through. I currently work with two screens; a 5 mesh and a 10 mesh. The 5 mesh has larger holes and I primarily use it for cutting and sifting plants such as comfrey, motherwort and mugwort. For more delicate plants that I may want to be cut finer for teas or for skincare products such as lavender, bee balm and California poppy I use my 10 mesh screen. Depending on what plants you process you may choose to have a 3 or 4 screens with different gauges of wire mesh. Different gauges and sizes of wire mesh are all available to buy on Amazon.
The Frame – The type of wood you use for your screen frame is not super important. However, I would steer clear of any pressure treated lumber which could potentially leach chemicals or cedar which is high in tannins which again could potentially seep into your plant material. Good quality, affordable options that are easily available from most hardware stores are spruce, pine and fir.
- 2 pieces of 2×2 at 2ft
- 2 pieces of 2×2 at 1ft
- 1 piece of wire mesh 22.5″x 10.5″
- Carpenters Glue
- Shears or snips
- Table Saw
- Mitre Saw
On each piece of 2×2 rabbet out a quarter of it with a table saw. Retain the leftover piece.
On both ends of each 2×2 cut a 45 degree angle with a mitre saw, ensuring the rabbet is at the top and facing you when you cut each piece.
Glue all your corners together to create a frame. Put a pin through each mitre while the glue sets.
Turn your frame so the rabet is facing up. Cut the screen to fit inside of the rabet and place inside the frame. Staple to secure.
Run a bead of glue around the screen and place the leftover pieces back in their spaces. Pin or staple while the glue sets (overnight).
Stain or paint if desired. Congrats on your herb screen!
*Disclaimer – my husband is a carpenter and he totally helped me make my screens. If you are not power tool friendly you can buy screens here