Wood storm windows seal out drafts and complement the style of old houses. They’re an easy DIY project made with a miter saw, biscuit joiner, wood, and glue.
Wood storm windows are the perfect way to seal drafty old windows. Wooden storm windows also fit well with the style of antique homes. Best of all, this is an easy project for DIYers, and this simple plan can be customized to fit just about any window.
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The previous owners of my 1850s home did a great job of renovating and preserving the charm of an old house. They removed the asbestos shingle siding and restored the original wood clapboard siding that remained underneath. They renovated the wood front porch and added reclaimed wood entry doors. Even the original wooden windows with wavy glass were restored.
What looked out of place on the house were the aluminum storm windows. The house screamed 1850s and the aluminum storm windows screamed 1950s. That aluminum had to go!
The other problem with the aluminum storm windows was all of the screens were missing. So opening the windows meant bugs and bees were constantly buzzing around the house.
Wood Window Screens and Storm Windows
One of my earliest home improvement projects was to remove the aluminum storm windows. With the aluminum removed, I needed to build new wood window screens and wood storm windows.
I started with building the wood window screens because it seemed like the simplest of the two projects. The great news is it was an easy DIY project, and the look of the wood screens was a better fit for an 1850s house. The house was now ready to let some fresh air in and keep the bugs out.
Next, I turned my attention to keeping the cold air out. I built wood storm windows using a similar method to the window screens. I made a frame and then routed a rabbet on the inside edges of the frame. What’s a rabbet? If we cut a cross-section of a rabbet, it would look like a step or an “L.” The rabbet formed a recessed ledge to place the glass.
Recently I had to renovate one of the old windows because the window sill was rotted. The window opening changed slightly with the renovation, so the storm window I built years ago no longer fit. I thought this was an excellent opportunity to share with you how to build wood storm windows.
How to Assemble Wood Storm Windows
There were a few ways I could have built the storm windows. I could have used mortise and tenon joints or half-lap joints. Or I could have used pocket holes. Pocket holes are my go-to building method for my DIY furniture projects. But instead, I chose to build the wood storm windows with biscuit joints.
Building storm windows with pocket holes or biscuits would be quick and easy. But I guess I’m a creature of habit. I built my original set of storm windows with biscuits more than ten years ago. They’re still rock solid, so I decided to use biscuits again to build this new storm window.
Skate over to Kreg Jig vs Biscuit Joiner to see the differences between pocket hole joints and biscuit joints.
What is Biscuit Joinery?
A biscuit joiner or plate joiner has a small horizontally mounted saw blade. When the biscuit joiner is pushed into a workpiece, the blade cuts a half-moon-shaped slot. Then the biscuit joiner is positioned on the corresponding workpiece, and the blade is pushed into the workpiece, which cuts the second half of the slot.
Glue is applied to a thin football-shaped wafer called a biscuit. The biscuit is placed into the slots, and the joint is clamped until the glue dries.
What Wood Should You Use?
I had some common pine on hand, and that’s what I used to build my windows. Pine is not the best option for exterior projects because it is not rot-resistant or insect resistant. A better option would be douglas fir, southern yellow pine, or another rot-resistant wood.
Glazing Wood Storm Windows
The next step to building a wood storm window is adding glass to the frame. Window glazing makes an airtight, watertight seal between the glass and wood frame. Here’s what I’ve learned after building a handful of these wood storm windows. I’m not too fond of glazing. I’m not good at it, it’s frustrating, and it takes me forever to do.
Instead of getting frustrated, I contacted a local glass company to glaze the window for me. Bill has more than 30 years of experience working with glass. He was able to cut the glass and glaze the wood storm window in about 30 minutes. For me, it was well worth the expense to avoid the frustration and time-savings.
Please skate over to How to Glaze a Window to see step by step how Bill glazed my wood storm window.
Installing Wood Storm Windows
The most common way to install wood storm windows is with storm window hangers. Two hangers are attached to the window trim and two corresponding clips are attached to the wood storm window. The clips slide over the hanger and keep the window in place.
My aunt is also an old house fanatic, so of course, I shared with her how I planned to install my wood storm windows. She had another idea that would give the windows a cleaner look.
Her suggestion was to drive two screws in the top of the storm window and drill corresponding holes in the underside of the window trim.
The screws are left proud about a ½” and act like pins. The holes in the underside of the trim are drilled about ⅜” deep. The pins are inserted into the holes and lock the top of the storm window in place. Think of it like adding a leaf to an expandable table where the pins of the leaf fit into the holes in the table.
A hook and eye at the bottom locks the wood storm window in place.
I have received many questions about this installation method. I’ve tried taking photos, but it was tricky to properly photograph so that you could see what I was doing.
Instead, I created some sketches. I’ll preface this by saying this is still not as clear as I would like it to be. So please bear with me. If you’re still unsure, I suggest making a jig with some scrap wood and testing it out. I think it may become easier to understand that way.
Make a Jig
I started by making a jig from scrap wood.
In this sketch, the jig is placed on the outside of the storm window. But in this view, we are looking down and from the inside of the house.
The bottom of the jig is set for ¾”, the thickness of the storm window. The top of the jig is set for 1″, the distance I needed to set the storm window in the opening correctly. Your measurement may be different.
Two holes were drilled through the top of the jig. These holes will be used to mark the location of the screws that will act like pins. Later, they will be used to mark the location for holes on the underside of the trim.
In this photo, the jig is clamped in place, and I am driving a screw that will act as a pin.
Then the jig is placed on the window trim. In this sketch, we are standing in the yard on the outside of the house.
To see the next step, we have to look from inside the house. You can do this step outside, but we need to look up, and from the inside, so you see what to do.
Use an awl to mark the center of each hole in the jig on the underside of the trim. Then, use a ¼” Forstner bit (or whatever size bit will fit the screws you are using) to drill a hole ⅜” deep at each location.
Related: What is an Awl (+ How to Use it)
Now, the pins (screws) can be inserted into the holes. All that is left is to add a hook and eye to the bottom of the window.
Another Layer of Protection
There’s one more thing I do after I install the wood storm windows. I use DAP Seal ‘N Peel to seal the storm windows and the windows themselves.
Seal ‘N Peel is a caulk-like product that goes on clear. The difference between Seal ‘N Peel and caulk is that Seal n Peel can be easily peeled off in the spring when it’s time to remove the storm windows.
Here’s one word of caution. Seal ‘N Peel has a stinky, chemical smell. It’s best to use it in the early fall when it’s still warm enough to leave the doors open so the smell can escape.
Here’s another word of caution. Don’t use Seal ‘N Peel to seal emergency exits!
How to Make a DIY Wood Storm Window
- Measure the window opening
- Cut the window pieces
- Assemble the window frame and use a router to cut a rabbet
- Install the glass with glazier points and glazing putty
- Paint and install the wood storm window
DIY Wood Storm Window Plan
Step 1. Measure the Opening
I started by taking measurements from side to side at the top and bottom of the window opening. Then I took measurements from top to bottom on the left and right side of the window opening.
I deducted ¼” from the smallest side to side dimension, and I deducted ¼” from the smallest top to bottom dimension. These were the dimensions I used to build my storm window. Deducting ¼” will allow for ⅛” of movement around each side of the storm window.
Step 2. Cut the Storm Window Parts
I used the dimensions from Step 1 to determine the length of my storm window parts. Cut 2 stiles from 1×3 to 48″. Cut 2 rails from 1×3 to 22-3/4″. Cut 1 bottom rail from 1×4 to 22-3/4″.
Step 3. Cut the Biscuit Joints
First, I laid out the pieces to form the storm window frame. I used a Kreg Multi-Mark to locate the middle of each rail. Then I transferred those marks to the stiles. I cut #10 biscuit slots on the 1×3 joints and #20 biscuit slots on the 1×4 joints.
Step 4. Assemble the Frame
I laid out the pieces to form the storm window frame and test fit biscuits in all of the joints. I recut any slots where the biscuit didn’t properly fit. Glue was applied to all of the joints, the biscuits were inserted into the slots, the frame was clamped and checked for square.
Step 5. Cut the Rabbet
Using rabbeting bit in my router I cut a ¼” wide rabbet ⅜” deep. The bit leaves the corners rounded, so I needed to square the corners to accept the glass. First I used the Kreg Multi-Mark to mark the corner. Then I used a chisel to square the corner.
Step 6. Drill the Weep Holes
I drilled weep holes in the bottom of the frame to allow water to escape if any should build up between the window and storm window.
To drill the weep holes I clamped a piece of scrap wood to the bottom of the frame. I used an awl to make a mark between the frame and scrap wood. Then I used a ¼” Forstner bit to drill a hole in the bottom of the frame.
Step 7. Glaze the Window
I’m not good at glazing, as I mentioned earlier. I took my wood storm window to a local glass shop to have the window glazed.
Skate over to Window Glazing: How to Glaze Like a Pro to see how the glass shop glazed my window.
Step 8. Paint or Stain the Frame
I used a Purdy Cub Paint Brush to apply two coats of exterior stain to my storm window.
Step 9. Install the Storm Window
Wood storm windows are the perfect way to seal drafty old windows. Wooden storm windows also fit well with the style of antique homes. Best of all this is an easy project for DIYers and this simple plan can be customized to fit just about any window.
Thank you for stopping by. If you found this information helpful, would you please pin it to Pinterest? Other DIYers would appreciate it and I would too! Thank you – Scott
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