A Shoji room divider is a traditional Japanese style dividing screen that is made from rice paper and bamboo. Traditionally hand crafted for centuries in Japan, they are a mainstay in Japanese households and provide a clean, elegant look to any room. Shoji room dividers are actually simple to construct with basic tools and materials, giving the DIY-er's room both more functionality and a new visual point of interest.
Step 1 - Construct Wood Frame
Most shoji dividers measure about 5 feet wide by 7 feet wide, but this can be adjusted for the size of the room and section where you are planning to install the divider. It is a good idea to measure and note the dimensions of where you will be placing your new divider and plan accordingly. Measure and cut out two longer and two shorter wood pieces that will form the rectangular frame of your divider. Nail these together, making sure to secure them at correct right angles. Use two nails at each joint if possible, and you can also reinforce each one with a small dab of wood glue if you wish.
Step 2 - Attach Vertical Pieces
Cut out some smaller pieces of wood that will form a pattern inside the main divider frame. Glue these to the inner edges of the frame about every 4 to 5 inches apart, and be sure to allow enough drying time. These vertical pieces will be the supports for the strips of decorative bamboo you will add in the next step.
Step 3 - Attach Bamboo Strips
Glue these horizontal pieces to the ends of the thicker vertical wood pieces about every 4 inches. These will form a lattice-work design, and the more smaller pieces you connect, the more intricate it will be. Use your creativity for this part and make your lattice design your own unique one.
Step 4 - Construct Remaining Panels
Repeat steps 1 through 3 to create 5 more room divider panels. Make sure all of the measurements match for each one, and allow the glue at least a few hours to dry. Once this is done, you have the option of applying paint or wood stain to your divider panels.
Step 5 - Add Rice Paper
Trim a sheet of rice paper to fit between two of your panels and sandwich the paper in between them. Use small dabs of glue to secure it is place, and be careful not to apply so much that it drips or smears onto the rice paper itself. Do the same with the remaining four panels until you have a total of 3 room divider panels.
Stretch the rice paper by misting it with water from your spray bottle and then drying it with the warm setting on your blow dryer. This will cause the rice paper to tighten around the frames.
Step 6 - Secure Panels Together
Use small hinges with screws to attach your three panels together, and use 2 to 3 hinges for each connection point. If you have made a Shoji divider close to the height of your ceiling, don't forget to fold and unfold it at an angle.