Window Screens

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Forum topic by lerbi posted 03-30-2011 05:19 PM 1164 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 2114 days

03-30-2011 05:19 PM

I’ve got to make new window screens for our 90+ year old house. The originals are probably douglas fir but it’s hard to tell since they are so old and beat up. We live in the Chicago area, so weather is definitely a concern, although the screens are removed during the winter. Two questions:
1. Planning on using cypress or doug fir depending on availability and price. Frames will be painted. Comments and suggestions welcome.
2. What type of joint should be used at the corners? Obviously a cross grain situation. Current screens look to be no more than half-lap joints and assume that they are glued but it’s very difficult to tell. Suggestions?

-- Details Matter - Check the Small Stuff

6 replies so far

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2272 days

#1 posted 03-30-2011 05:51 PM

Half laps sound like the best idea for a screen, lerbi. If you like a project to justify a tool purchase, this one might get you a tenoning jig like this one although I question the “heavy duty” rating. there is a heavier one, and the heavier it is, the safer it is.

As for the material, the needs are: weather resistant (stable), able to take a finish (I presume) and fastener holding (assuming the screen is attached via screen mould).

This sounds like a satisfying project!



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View swirt's profile


2107 posts in 2394 days

#2 posted 03-30-2011 05:53 PM

I made some a while back with half-laps and they held alright, but some twisting was evident and a few of the joints are separating. If I had it to do all over again I would go with bridal joints.

Not sure what you are building to attach the screens, the method I used was to rout the frames with a small groove all the way around and use spline to hold the screen in place. That worked well.

-- Galootish log blog,

View lerbi's profile


4 posts in 2114 days

#3 posted 03-30-2011 06:03 PM

My thinking right now is to attach screen with staples and cover that with screen molding

Swirt- thanks. Bridle joints was my other option and it is probably a better choice. More stable and more glueing surfaces.

-- Details Matter - Check the Small Stuff

View devann's profile


2200 posts in 2114 days

#4 posted 03-30-2011 06:12 PM

I made screen for an old house and copied what was used before. The half laps seemed to be fine. The job did have a kink. It started with one screen, before I could finish it I was ask to do several more. No problem I used the one that they brought me for a pattern and made more of them. When I went to install the screens, only one would fit, when I found the proper window to put it with. The others all required minor alterations. Old houses.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View lerbi's profile


4 posts in 2114 days

#5 posted 03-30-2011 06:21 PM

Darrell – I have 16 windows in four different sizes and plan on running into the same problem that you had but figure that’s what my block plane is for. The reality will be that it won’t be that simple.

-- Details Matter - Check the Small Stuff

View pjones46's profile


986 posts in 2065 days

#6 posted 04-03-2011 07:26 AM

What is the largest screen you will be making? Are you planning to remove them in the winter and store them? The reason I ask this is that it does make a difference as to type of joint that you should use. If you leave them up, there should not be any racking motions to disturb the joints so you could use plain old miter joints reinforced with Phenosel Vinyl Adhesive Caulk glued biscuit at each miter joint and one pilot holed 5d stainless annular ring box nail at each corner.

Some may scoff at this method but I have been making them for over ten years like this up to 4’x 6’ and have had no failures yet out of hundreds that I have made. I also mill the screen stock from full 1×6 Meranti decking, where some were painted and some treaded with Cabots Australian Timber Oil. Also, I use what some call fiberglass pet screen material which is more money but stands up to high winds, snow and ice held in with either stainless or monel staples.

All have been left installed year round with exception to a few so the experience of removing and installing cycles is limited which is where you see the high racking motion which would exert high or at least potential for racking at the corners.

Try an exact sample made of scrap built this way to see if it satisfies you, you will be impressed and it is a lot easier.

Good luck.

-- Respectfully, Paul

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