May 9, 2017 by Scott - Saws on Skates
Are you ready to open your door and let some fresh air in? Oh, you can’t because your screen door is busted? Oh, you never had a screen door? No worries, I got you covered! Today I’m showing you how to make a customizable, sturdy, easy to build DIY wood screen door, so you can let some fresh air in and keep the bugs out!
For your convenience this post contains affiliate links to products or tools I used to complete this project. Click here to visit my site policies.
My friend Linda wanted a new screen door for the rear entrance of her home. Her old screen door had seen better days and she had grown tired of that dated blackbird.
The trouble was the door opening was not a standard size. In fact, I’m not even sure where you would find a door this size. It’s tiny! It’s like someone took a regular door and shrunk it. You almost have to turn sideways to pass through it! Not being a standard size exterior door meant we couldn’t find a screen door at a big box store to fit the opening. The only option was to have one custom made. Linda got a quote and that was a VERY pricey proposition.
Luckily for Linda I’ve built a handful of screen doors and window screens, so I was familiar with the process. Oh, and I should mention I built this project in 2012, three years before I started DIYing projects here at Saws on Skates. I apologize in advance for the quality of the pic.
A DIY wood screen door, without a doubt, is more sturdy than one from a big box store. Have you seen those big box screen doors? They’re sooo flimsy! I bought one for my house and I don’t think it lasted a month. That’s when I decided to build my first screen door.
The slot is filled with waterproof wood glue, a biscuit is inserted and the joint is clamped. The moisture in the glue causes the biscuit to expand and creates a tight joint between the two pieces of wood.
Biscuit joinery creates a strong joint, but this joint could be made even stronger. Like I mentioned earlier, I made this screen door in 2012. About that time I was just getting into the Kreg Jig, so I didn’t use it for this project.
Here’s how I would do it now. First, assemble the screen door with biscuits. Once the glue was dry, I would drill pocket holes in the ends of the rails and drive pocket screws into the stiles. I would then cut pocket hole plugs using a pocket hole plug cutter to fill the pocket holes. Then sand the plugs smooth. This double joinery method would create a super sturdy, nearly bullet proof screen door.
Customize for Your Needs
I’m willing to bet your door opening is not the same size as Linda’s tiny door, so here’s how I would adjust this plan to fit your door opening. Take a measurement at the top and bottom of your door opening. Take the smallest dimension and deduct 1/4″. This will allow 1/8″ clearance on either side of the door. Take a measurement from the top to the bottom on the left side and the top to the bottom on the right side of the opening. Again, take the smallest dimension and deduct 1/4″. This will allow 1/8″ clearance at the top and bottom of the door. Then adjust the measurements of the plan to correspond with measurements of your door opening.
As I mentioned, I built this door for a very small opening. To give it a “lighter” feel I used a 1×3 for the middle rail and the mullion. A regular entryway door opening would probably look better with a “beefier” middle rail and mullion. If it were me, I would probably replace the 1×3 with a 1×4 for these parts if you’re working with a larger door opening.
How to Make a DIY Wood Screen Door
Click here to download a PDF of the Screen Door Plan
Step 1. Cut the Stiles. Cut 2 pieces of 1×4 to 76-1/16″.
Step 2. Cut the Mullion. Cut 1 piece of 1×3 to 28″.
Step 3. Cut the Top Rail. Cut 1 piece of 1×4 to 20-13/16″.
Step 4. Cut the Middle Rail. Cut 1 piece of 1×3 to 20-13/16″.
Step 5. Cut the Bottom Rail. Cut 1 piece of 1×6 to 20-13/16″.
Step 6. Cut the Biscuit Joints. Layout the pieces. Use the Kreg Multi-Mark to locate the centers of the rails and mullion.
Transfer those marks to the stiles and label each joint. I set the plate joiner for #10 biscuits for the 1×3 joints and #20 for the 1×4 joints and cut the joints.
Step 7. Assemble the Frame. Layout the pieces and test fit biscuits in all of the joints. Re-cut any joints if necessary. Apply glue to all of the joints, insert biscuits, clamp and check for square.
Step 8. Layout the Dado for the Spline. The spline will be used to hold the screen material in place. Using the Kreg Multi-Mark measure 3/8″ from the inside edge of the frame and make a mark. Then measure 1/8″ from that mark – this is the area where the dado will be cut for the spline. These marks will establish the corners, so we’ll know where to end the cut.
Step 9. Cut the Dado. The dado will be cut using a router and a 1/8″ straight router bit.
Using the Kreg Multi-Mark set the bit depth to 1/4″.
Using the layout lines drawn in Step 8 set the router fence, so it will cut within the layout lines. My recommendation is to start with the sides and top first as they are the same width. Starting in the corner, plunge the router bit into the layout line and work towards the opposite corner. Stop the router when you get to the mark on the opposite corner, remove the router, reposition on the next side and repeat for the remaining sides. For the bottom, adjust the fence to the proper depth and finish cutting the dado.
An easy way to remove the sawdust from the dado is with a shop vac.
Step 10. Drill Pocket Holes (optional). This step is optional, but highly recommended as it will add extra strength to the door. Drill pocket holes in the ends of each each rail and attach using 1-1/4″ pocket screws. Cut plugs using a pocket hole plug cutter. Apply glue to the plugs, insert into the pocket holes and sand the plugs smooth once the glue is dry.
Step 11. Finish the Screen Door. Sand the door smooth, then paint or stain the door. If painting, apply a quality primer and several coats of paint. I enjoy painting, but the tendonitis in my hands hates painting. I love the lightweight Purdy Cub Paint Brush because it’s much easier on my wrist than a full size brush, it’s easy to control and gives a quality finish.
Step 12. Install the Screen. Check out my How to Replace a Window Screen post for easy instructions on installing the window screen.
All that’s left is to install the screen door in the opening. Just follow the instructions on your screen door hardware kit. Then let the fresh air in!
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