Saturday, March 30, 2013

How to make wood window screens 7: What shall we call that bug preventer thing-a-ma-jig

Today, we'll look at steps 6 through 9 of our project to make wood window screens, as follows:

  6. Cut and add the "projection" to the back, on the top
  7. Put the frame in the window and mark and drill holes for fasteners (if using)
  8. Fill, sand, prime and paint the frames
  9. Cut and prime and paint the trim pieces to cover the screening on the front

The full list of steps can be found in the series post number 5 here. The first in this series is here.  The most recent in the series is here.

But first, we have to name this "projection" because we're going to talk about it a lot today, and the word "projection" just isn't descriptive enough. So I am going to call it the "bug stop," both because it stops bugs, flies and other critters from flying over the top of the screen, down between the screen and window, and thus into the house. And also because it fits between the two blind stops, and so that will help us remember where it goes and what it does.

To see a demonstration of the "bug stop", see #10 in the series, here.

6. Cut and add the "projection" or Bug Stop to the back, on the top:

So, to cut the Bug Stop, you have to measure the distance across the window between the blind stops. Preferably, you are measuring at the meeting rails, because that is where the top of the window screen sits, like so, from the outside:

Or, like so, from the inside (I am measuring today, with the storm window in). The measuring tape is up against the inner face of the blind stop:

Here, you can see a cut Bug Stop, for demonstration purposes. This is how it will sit, when the screen is installed, though it will be up higher, at the meeting rails:

After your bug stop is cut, glue and nail it to the top edge of the back of the screen frame with finish nails, like so:

So here's the one I just nailed on:

Here's a side view of the original model we're working from, as a comparison:

And now, the new frame and the model, side by side. A top view and a side view:

7. Put the frame in the window and mark and drill holes for fasteners (if using):

This step will have to wait for spring for a full demonstration, and then I will write a separate post about fasteners (which is now written and can be found here).

I think most original wood screens were installed with turnbuttons. The turnbuttons are screwed into the outer frame or casing of the window (not the screen). But because my windows are around 175 years old, I don't want to put any new holes into them that might allow moisture penetration, so after a lot of research online, I went with these fasteners, which I found at House of Antique Hardware, here:

Here is a side shot of one of those fasteners installed in a screen:

These fasteners were really designed, I think, to fasten hanging storms just at the bottoms, but I am using four in each screen to fasten the whole screen in, since my screens only cover the bottom half of my sash windows and so can't hang from the top.

Suffice it to say, I found that it is critical to measure the spot for each fastener with the screen in the window, because everything is slightly out of true. And it's better to drill the holes before the screen is painted and primed, so that's been done here, where you can see a hole in the new frame, for a fastener, and behind it an original model with the fastener installed.

Here, a back view:

And, the back again, from the side:

And now, a front view:

8. Fill, sand, prime and paint the frames:

This step is self-explanatory. Fill, sand, prime and paint everything. At this stage, it is also helpful to do step number 9 at the same time, cutting the trim that holds in the screen and prime and paint that too, while you've got the paint and paint brushes out, so see below for step 9 instructions.

Here is an empty painted frame, front and back, with the original model behind, as a reference. Note, still no screen in the new frame:

9. Cut and prime and paint the trim pieces to cover the screening on the front:

So now, you want to measure the rabbeted front edge of the frame, and miter cut the trim to fit:

And then, prime and paint each piece of trim. Since these are best if the fit is tight, we marked each individual piece with tape flags, attached with pins (sewing pins), marking the four Left, Right, Top and Bottom pieces for each screen, as you can see.

So that's that. The next and last step will be installing the screening. We are nearly done and so ready for spring! 

I'm happy to answer questions or take specific photos, if something is unclear, if you post your question as a comment.

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. well my one main remaining curiosity was the actual putting in of the screening. i have a teeny house (850 sq ft), so a lot fewer windows to contend with. thus, i've opted to go with bronze screening, which i'm going to tarnish with copper sulfate, to try to make the screen less visible (since black aluminum is supposedly the best for this purpose, i am thinking i can replicate that effect by tarnishing the bronze to a near-black color, while still using period-appropriate materials). but, with that choice, i am also concerned with how thick the screen material itself will be. i am going to be attaching the trim on the surface of a flat frame (no rabbet) but wonder if it's going to appear to be floating above the wood frame. also wondering if the screening should run all the way to the edge of the trim piece so that the trim piece sits totally flat? ...?... but i suppose you are still working on getting step 11 up on the blog. i already decided to use what i'm using, so it'll just have to work, i guess. i'm in southern CA and the screens just cannot wait any longer. the cats have shredded my old aluminum-frame fiberglass ones, so most of the windows have been closed to keep them from escaping and it is finally getting hot and, thus, miserable in here (no AC; we've got a whole house fan, which relies on open windows). i sure do hope the bronze is immune to kitty claws (or, better yet, that without snags in them to begin with, they won't even put their claws to the screens' surfaces?!)--is that wishful thinking? oh, and i'm happy to share photos of how i go about it when i finally figure out how the screening/frame/trim setup is going to work for me in non-rabbet land! maybe that will be useful to some of your readers who are equipment-limited like me & thus cannot do the rabbet option?

    1. So - I will try to respond to everything. Let's see. I am using Charcoal aluminum screening made by New York Wire (got it at the local hardware store). I have cats, too, and in the past I've seen the damage cats can do to brand new fiberglass screen, so I went with aluminum, hoping it would be harder and thus a deterrent and in fact that seems to be the case. There are no holes in my new screens, despite the kitten's desire to get out.

      The charcoal aluminum is a little more transparent than the screening on my original screens, which, you're right, is black--but made of what I don't know. I didn't know they made bronze screen. That is one thing I didn't research online; I just went to the hardware store. I love your idea of using bronze screen and tarnishing it black, and would love to hear how it went and see photos. Perhaps you could do a guest blog. You can back channel me at, the address for this blog.

      I don't know how far the screen extends on the frames with no rabbet. There is no screening visible on the outer edge of the trim on those screens.

      I will write a post this weekend about how we put the screening in -- even if it is brief and temporary until we actually do one more and have photos. It was nothing fancy. I held it down tight just with my hands while Capel used a staple gun to fasten the screen into the rabbet, trying to keep it straight and tight. I have seen demonstrations online (must be on youtube) from people who are a bit more obsessive than me on this, because there are some elaborate schemes out there to get the screening absolutely straight and taut. Mine has some give in it, so it is not perfect. After we got all four edges of the screen stapled down and trimmed (the key is to trim it after it's stapled, so you have screen to hold onto and pull), then we nailed on the trim with the tiniest nails I could find. And that was it. Nothing elaborate.

      Let me know how its going!