Sunday, February 24, 2013

How to make wood window screens 3: Original model

This post details the original model I used to construct my own screens. To see the first post in this series, go here.  For the just previous post, go here.

Before I show you how we made our replacement screens from wood, I want to show you how the originals are put together.

Here is the front of one of our original wood screens:

As you can see, it is made pretty much exactly like a picture frame, with mitered corners. If we zoom in on a corner, you will see the construction more clearly:

The miters are held together with a corrugated brad (something we tried and abandoned, as you'll see in my post on making the replacements). But what I want you to zoom in on now, is the small strip of wood that holds in the screen. You can see it better from this angle:

The frame of the screen has been rabbeted, the screen laid into the rabbet and a narrow strip of trim laid over the screen and nailed in flush with the frame to cover the raw edges of the screen. We weren't sure exactly what it looked like underneath (still aren't, because we haven't taken one apart), but when we went to make our own, it was pretty obvious what had to be done. Also, very helpfully, all the nail heads have rusted, so the method of construction is clear.

Here is a photo showing our replacement frame with the rabbet taken out, and the original model right behind it for comparison:

And, to give you a clear sense of what I mean by "trim", here is a photo of the original again, and behind it a piece of the new trim that we bought, cut and painted white, to be nailed into the rabbet, on top of our screening:

There are a couple of different ways of making the frames and of laying in screening, and I will show you some different models in another post. This is the one that was "original" to our house, as far as I can tell, though, and was the design we liked best, so this is the model we followed.

I put "original" in quotes, because I am fairly certain screens and screening didn't exist when the house was built. These are newer than the house, the round-head machine-made nails make that obvious. Still, whenever screens were made and added to the gear of the house, these seem to be the original screens made for our house.

Ok, so that's it for the front. What does the back look like:

There are only two differences between the back of the frame and the front. The back does not have the rabbet, as you can see. It does, however,  have an odd projection nailed to the back of the frame, at the top, which you can see more clearly from a side angle, here:

The purpose of this odd projection wasn't clear to me until I hung the screen in the window. Since the frame of the screen lies flat against the blind stops, there is a big gap (which the projection neatly fills), between the top of the screen and the meeting rails of the window sash. I realize that might not make sense if you don't know the jargon, so when the spring comes and we put the first screen in, I will try to add a photo of the screen in the window from that angle. I don't have one. 

But if you are making screens, believe me, it will become obvious to you at some point, what this projection does. It keeps bugs from flying in over the top of the screen, down under the open window and into the house!

Everything is utilitarian. The aesthetic appeal and charm is there, true, but everything also has a function. And things were made to work in a very simple, straightforward way. I love that about old American folk houses.

In any case, just to round out the photos of the model, here are two shots of the back corners of the frame:

And that's it for the model. 

Before we leave it though, I will point out my addition--the shiny, stainless screen fasteners. I have no idea how these screens were originally held in the windows. I actually think they were held in with wooden or metal turnbuttons, because there is no indication of fastening hardware ever having been attached to these screens.

To see metal turnbuttons, go here. They're attached to the exterior window frames. I've seen them on other houses and in other blogs. There are no metal turnbuttons on my windows, but in the exterior of the kitchen window frame that I scraped and painted two summers ago, there were old, empty screw holes in the place where either metal or wood turnbuttons might have been. 

My house has only one original wooden turnbutton, on the interior of a window, none on the exterior window frames. I'll take some photos and do a post on wooden turnbuttons next.

In any case, after a lot of thought and a fair amount of time hunting in local hardware stores and online, I went with the shiny U-shaped screen fasteners you see above. I will write more about fasteners when we get to the point of actually putting in a screen, but for now, just make a note of these, while you're looking at the photos.

More to come ... 

And, a thank you to my readers. I've been surprised at how many there are, especially people from all over the world googling porch column base replacement and landing here. So, I guess this blog does fill a little niche. I'm very happy to see it. Thank you if you are a regular reader!

For the entire series on making wooden window screens, click on the category "How to Make Wood Window Screens Series", in the Topics list along the right-hand side of the home page. There is also now an index tab at the top of the home page, listing all the posts in sequential order, with a link to each one.

1 comment:

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