DIY Screen Door

Step-by-step instructions for a beautiful wood screen door that will stay on its hinges for many years to come.

| January/February 2018

  • Build a beautiful rustic screen door that will withstand the test of time.
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing
  • Take pride in the door that leads into your home.
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing
  • Door interior measurements.
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing
  • Lay out the door parts in the orientations that look best and mark the joints for reference.
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing
  • Clamp the stiles together and lay out the mortises on both at the same time. Place a mark where the rails intersect the stiles.
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing
  • Mark the width of the mortises with the marking gauge. Scribe from both sides to ensure you’ve centered the mortise. Make the mortise between 3⁄8 and 1⁄2 inch wide.
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing
  • Cut the mortise 2 3⁄8 inches deep, or as deep as your tooling can go.
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing
  • Rout the outward-facing edges of the rails with a 1⁄2-inch bead (except the very top and bottom, of course).
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing
  • Measure and mark the tenon shoulders on the rails.
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing
  • Cut the tenon faces on the table saw with a dado blade. I first mill the tenon faces too thick on one of them, then take small increments off and test the fit each time. When the tenon fits snugly with only hand pressure, I’ve got a good fit. This is an alternate and faster way to fit tenons. It can be accurate depending on how accurate your mortises are. It doesn’t accommodate variation, though. I take this shortcut here because an uneven joint face can be sanded out easily in the soft cedar.
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing
  • Trim the tenon shoulders and round the tenon sides to fit each mortise. If necessary, adjust the tenons to align with the pencil marks on the stiles. Leave the pencil marks there for now, but erase them before assembly.
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing
  • Dry-fit the frame and check the diagonals and joint connections to see that everything is aligned at 90 degrees and fits.
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing
  • With the frame still clamped up, rout the groove for the panel, 3⁄8 inch wide but not centered.
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing
  • Lastly before you take the frame apart, rout the shallow 1⁄4-inch-deep-by-1⁄2-inch-wide rabbet for the screen stop.
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing
  • Assemble the door frame with a water-resistant glue (unless this is an interior screen door, or the screen is really protected from the elements — no, no “unless.” Just use waterproof glue). It is not a good idea to glue the panel in place. However, if you use an exterior-grade plywood panel, you can glue it in the frame and add to the door’s strength.
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing
  • After the glue has cured, square up the corners of the screen groove and the screen stop rabbet. Use a 1⁄8-inch chisel for the groove and a fine-toothed saw and wider chisel to cut the rabbet. Make sure your chisels are sharp, and use a shearing cut movement or they will crush rather than cut the soft cedar fibers.
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing
  • Peg each joint from either the inside or the outside, depending on where you’d like to see the pegs.
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing
  • Kerf for screening.
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing
  • When you reach a corner, cut the screen at a 45-degree angle so they don’t overlap under the spline.
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing
  • After you’ve set the spline around all four sides, the screen may be loose in places. To tighten it, pull on the outside edge and roll the spline back down into the groove with the screwdriver.
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing
  • Trim the excess screening with a knife, careful not to cut either the spline or the screen on the inside edge of the spline.
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing
  • Mill 1⁄4-inch-thick-by-1⁄2-inch-wide strips from the leftover cedar for screen stop. Cut the vertical strips to length first, then nail them in the stile using evenly spaced copper weather-stripping nails. Next, set the horizontal strips in the two rails. These aren’t necessary to hold the screening in place, but they give the interior a finished look.
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing
  • Set the screen door handles a few inches lower or higher than the main door handles.
    Photo courtesy Linden Publishing

Not every open door lets everything in. Not every closed door keeps everything out. Dutch doors are designed so the top half can open leaving the bottom shut, letting air and bugs in, but keeping animals out. Screen doors are designed to let air in, but no bugs, and only when they’re shut. Got it?

Screen doors are traditionally thin and lightweight. In part this is because they don’t need to be thicker. Screening weighs next to nothing, so the door is only holding up its own frame. They also need to be thin to fit the outside of a jamb already occupied by a full-size door. The trouble with thin, though, is obvious — thin means flimsy, and making a durable screen door is something of a trick.

I use pegged mortise-and-tenons and stock at least 7⁄8-inch, but preferably 1 inch thick to make a durable screen door that looks nice and holds up over time. You can make thinner doors, but you’ll need to come up with a different way to integrate the screen, perhaps losing the stop that covers the spline.

I made this screen door out of western red cedar, a lightweight yet rot- and weather-resistant softwood. It is sold in my area as dimensional building lumber in housing construction-oriented lumberyards, and not in hardwood lumberyards.




Materials & cut list

Finished Dimensions

80 inches by 36 inches by 1 inch

www.EasyWoodwork.org
5/15/2018 7:18:55 PM

I used the plans at WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG to build my own screen door – I highly recommend you visit that website and check their plans out too. They are detailed and super easy to read and understand unlike several others I found online. The amount of plans there is mind-boggling… there’s like 16,000 plans or something like that for tons of different projects. Definitely enough to keep me busy with projects for many more years to come haha Go to WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG if you want some additional plans :)







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