Wooden screens: Starting construction

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In my previous entry on this topic, I talked about how I was building two new wooden screens to put on windows on a second floor sleeping porch. In this entry I’ll discuss how I started putting them together.

First off, I decided that I would use “1 by” stock for building the frames. This means that the wood, pine in my case, is “1 inch” thick, although by convention it actually 3/4 inch thick. I wanted the width of the pieces in the frame to be as close to 1 7/8 inches without wasting a lot of wood. That is, I was willing to go with a slightly narrower piece if it saved wood and money.

I went to the local lumberyard and looked at 1 x 6 pine. Since I’m planning to paint these screens, it did not have to be clear pine without knots. By convention, a 1 x 6 is also less wide that 6 inches, though you need to check the wood you are buying to see exactly how much less. In my case, the width was 5 1/2 inches. Each piece of 1 x 6 x 8 (feet) pine was about $6, and I needed three of these.

Diagram of screen frame

The width of the blade on my table saw is 1/8 inch. So if I cut each 1 x 6 into 3 equal strips, these strips would be (5 1/2 – 2 * 1/8) / 3 inches wide. That is, 1 3/4 inches wide. Close enough.

One of the windows looks like the image displayed and the other is wider with the piece in the middle centered horizontally. Each frame is 46 inches high. The narrower one is 54 3/8 inches wide while the wider one is 72 5/8 inches.

I used my chop saw to cut the different pieces of wood to the proper lengths and then glued them up on the extension table of my table saw. Ideally I would have another table, but I know the saw extension table is flat and square. I used Gorilla Glue and one 3 inch drywall screw at each junction.

It’s important not to overbuild such things. The screens will be kept in a fixed position with no flexing or torquing. The glue is extremely strong and waterproof. I worked my way around the screen, gluing and screwing each corner, and then I let the glue set. Ideally I would have done the entire frame at once, but I wasn’t in a rush and this ensured that everything stayed square.

Gluing up the frame

After the frames were put together I let them dry for several days, which coincided with my taking a business trip. Earlier today I brought the frames upstairs and test fitted them in their windows. Even though I measured the previous screens, it turned out that my new frames were an 1/8 inch too high. So I brought them back down to the basement, set up a guide, and used my hand circular saw to trim them. The fit was fine after this adjustment. Always check for fit BEFORE you paint.

Each frame got a good sanding with palm sander and then I brought them outside to prime the knots. Knots can bleed sap and discolor a paint job, so I used shellac-based Zinsser B-I-N spray-on primer. Here are the two frames drying outside:

The frames with knot holes primed

Next up I’ll prime the entire frames, paint them white, put on aluminum screening, make some trim molding, cut and install that, and then install the screens.


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