Wooden screens: complete and installed

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In a series of blog entries, I’ve been documenting a small project to build two new wooden screens for a sleeping porch on our house. Though I only needed to construct a couple of screens, they were large, hence awkward, and needed to be installed about 15 feet up in the air.

At the end of the previous entry, I had done the woodwork and spot primed the knots in the woods. I then fully primed the wood and painted the screens with a good quality exterior semi-gloss paint. Here is one of the screens in my workshop waiting to have the aluminium screening attached:

Wooden screen project - final stages

I’ve used plastic screening on other projects and prefer to work with it. It’s not as heavy and doesn’t seem to have a life of its own when it comes to manoeuvring it on larger screen frames. I chose aluminium here to match what was on the other screens on the porch. Most modern screen doors use plastic screening.

To attach the screening, start at one end and align it squarely with the edges of the wooden frame. You will need to trim it later, but place the screening so you have enough to work with and to minimize waste. Using a carpentry staple gun (e.g., Arrow) and 1/4 inch or 3/8 inch staples, put in staples along one edge, placing them every three to four inches. Now move to the opposite side of the screen frame, stretch out the screen evenly (a helper is useful here), and staple along that edge.

You will be covering these staples with molding, so place the staples half the width of the molding away from the edge of inside edge of the frame. Stretch and attach the screening long the other sides of the frame and along any internal wooden pieces. Here’s one of my screens showing the screening fully stapled but untrimmed:

Wooden screen project - final stages

My original plan to was to make the trim molding myself by slicing pieces off “1 by” lumber. I would have first used my hand router to round over the edges slightly and then ripped a 1/4 inch strip on my table saw. That would have worked but would have been very time consuming. By chance, I found a inexpensive source of the molding I wanted at a local but new-to-me lumber store, so I just bought enough for the two frames.

Tip: buy an extra piece in case you screw up when cutting the molding. I didn’t on this project, but I would be lying if I told you that I had never done it.

Using a good, long straight edge and a box cutter knife, trim the screening to a width just a bit narrower than your molding. Some people do this after they attach the molding, but I find that if you wait you sometimes have to spend a lot of time cleaning up the stray pieces of aluminium screening that did not cut cleanly. You might also see the edge of the screening under the molding if you trim it at the end. Your choice; see what works for you.

miter saw

I used my chop saw (a DeWalt 12″ double bevel miter model) to cut the trim molding at 45 degree angles. Pay extra attention to make sure that you are cutting the angles in the right direction. Also, you may be tempted to measure the screens and then use a tape measure to transfer the measurement to the molding before you cut it. Don’t do that.

Instead, cut one 45 degree angle and then place the molding on the screen where it will go. Make a mark on the molding where the cut should be made on the other side, draw a little line indicating the direction of the angle, and then use that to guide how you make your cut.

The philosophy here is that the frames are already made and are as square and straight as they are going to be. Measure the molding to the pieces, not some now-abstract design.

Use a fine trim blade on your saw if you have one. This molding is so small that it could have been cut using a hand miter saw and box. Just take your time and cut accurately.

Here is the frame with one piece of molding attached with 3/4 inch brads:

Wooden screen project - final stages

Fast forwarding, all the molding is in place and I’ve used some wood filler to top off the holes left after sinking the brad heads slightly below the surface with a nail set:

Wooden screen project - final stages

Once the wood filler dried, I sanded it and touched up the paint on the screens, covering the nail heads, corners where the pieces of molding met, and any dings in the wood I may have made while handling the large screens.

Finally, here is one of the screens installed on the porch. This screen fit in easily while the other needed a bit of gentle persuasion. I secured the screens to the window frames from the inside using 3 inch exterior screws. All done.

Wooden screen project - final stages

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