Using Dowels to Build a Screen Door - Creative or Foolhardy? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 Old 07-29-2010, 12:23 PM Thread Starter
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Using Dowels to Build a Screen Door - Creative or Foolhardy?

I'm building a screen and want to build the frame without buying a joiner or any new tools and wanted to run my ideas by the group and get some feedback on the feasibility of the approach. For power tools, I have a circular saw, drill, jig saw, and a sander, and can borrow a router.

I plan to use dowels to connect the joints in the following way (see diagram below). I'll put three dowels per joint (joints labeled A through F), probably 3/8" diameter and 6" long, gluing them in, then clamping the frame until dry. Is this feasible? Will the joints hold or is this thing destined to fall apart?

Thanks, Mike
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post #2 of 13 Old 07-29-2010, 04:33 PM
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Let me toss out a maybe or three.

On a totally different type of project I used pocket screws and TB-III on face frame joints. After about 45 minutes I had to tear one of the joints apart. The end grain with TB-III actually pulled some of the edge grain off of the stile. (TB-III is strong. Pocket screws are clamping devices.) The wood was poplar.

The real message above is that a face frame can be made rather strong with pocket screws or dowels. HOWEVER a face frame is supported in other ways than just by the joint.

For a screen door, the rails and stiles are wide, usually 4 to 6 inches. The reason for this is the space needed for long tenons. Think of the abuse that a typical screen door gets. Have you ever known a kid to go through the screen door and NOT allow it to slam?

Again look at a screen door. The sheer action of gravity on the joints (specifically top hinge side) is extreme. And again, a kid hanging on the door puts even more strain on the joints.

My suggestion is to use a right angle lap joint. Take half the thickness of the material off each end of the R&S using a Stackable dado blade. Then glue with tridirectional clamping and TB-III. Tridirectional is through the door, (inside outside) horizontal (hinge to latch) and vertical (top to bottom.) You need to get good solid contact in all three directions for a solid door. If you are planning on 6" R&S pieces, use 6-1/2", make the door a bit wider than the door jamb and then use the table saw to cut the door to fit.

BTW - I wouldn't build it using less than 6" R&S.

Use the right tool for the job.

Rich (Tilting right)
Huntington Beach, California
Remember that when we have the "BIG ONE" everything east of the Rockies falls into the ocean.

Last edited by rrich; 07-29-2010 at 04:35 PM.
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post #3 of 13 Old 07-29-2010, 05:16 PM
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Rich, he does not have a table saw. I agree that the half lap joint would be good. That could be made with the router that you can borrow. For aesthetics I would still use the dowels. However they would be used to pin the half lap joint.

Dag, your diagram shows 4" framing. That would probably be OK, but 5" may be better. I think 6 " would look too bulky.

George
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post #4 of 13 Old 07-29-2010, 05:32 PM
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I would use 1" stock. I would make the stiles, top and middle rail 4", and the bottom rail 9". I would join with half laps, and TB III glue. Once the door is squared (measure corner to corner in both directions), clamp each lap joint.

Clamps across the door and on the length of the stiles should be snug tight. You want tight joints but not over compressed.

Ideally if you were so equipped, all stiles and rails would be cut and jointed to be re-glued in their lengths with the grain direction being opposite on each piece of the glue up. This helps in minimizing the possibility of warping.






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post #5 of 13 Old 07-29-2010, 07:29 PM
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These corner braces add a nice touch as well as a little extra support
http://www.leevalley.com/US/hardware...05,42034,44698
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post #6 of 13 Old 07-29-2010, 07:30 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much! Very helpful and informative replies. I'll update as I proceed.

Thanks again.

Mike

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post #7 of 13 Old 07-29-2010, 07:33 PM
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what about mortise and tenon joints

Old wood workers never die thay just get dry rot
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post #8 of 13 Old 07-29-2010, 10:26 PM
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Sorry, didn't notice the no table saw bit.

Maybe, with the router you could build a simple fixture to allow the lap joint procedure? Or with another fixture and a long straight bit purchase you could do M & T construction?

I guess the real question becomes how many summers are you looking for? (Two or twenty two)

Good fitting M & T is probably the strongest and most durable. A pinned lap joint is probably next followed by the Lap joint.

HOWEVER none of the joints would stand up very long to a 50 pound kid swinging on the door.

Use the right tool for the job.

Rich (Tilting right)
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post #9 of 13 Old 07-30-2010, 09:53 PM
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I would think that 2 dowel per corner should be enough.

Measure corner to corner and get the same each time to check on square as you glue.

Dry fit first.

Woodie
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post #10 of 13 Old 07-31-2010, 01:33 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rrich View Post
I guess the real question becomes how many summers are you looking for? (Two or twenty two)
A fellow at local millwork and lumber yard company asked me a similar question to the one posed by Rich, saying "What do you want from this screen door?" This, somewhat in response to my asking questions about getting Spanish Cedar boards milled and planed (he knew the cost and I didn't). And while I muttered something along the lines of "You know just a screen door," it got me thinking.

There's something about DIY work when you're just starting out that is like a beginner's paradox. Adults learn by doing, making mistakes, incorporating insight and lessons learned, and getting better as the doing -> learning -> improvement loop continues. And while carpentry skills are acquired and developed across projects, some stuff isn't repeatable. This is especially true if you really f up the first one. A skeptical spouse might call a halt to, say, future tiling endeavors if the first one looks like one of those mosaic tile ashtrays I and others of my generation made for our smoking parents and grandparents.

So, I decided that what I want from this door is to learn. I'll make it out of pine, I'll staple the screen to the frame under some thin wood strips, and I'll learn about making lap joints and hanging doors and so forth.

Then, next summer, I'll spend some money on some quality wood, nice Arts and Crafts hardware to match the style of the house, and make a damn nice screen door. Or at least come close. :)

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post #11 of 13 Old 07-31-2010, 01:38 AM
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Sounds like a good plan!

Let us know how it works...(pics.)...

Scott
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post #12 of 13 Old 08-12-2010, 11:11 PM Thread Starter
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Well, here's my screen door v1.0

It's made of pine 5/4" x 6" for the stiles, top and bottom rails, and 5/4" x 4" for the middle rail. The boards came primed.

I used pocket screws and TB III (thanks Rich!) to join the rails and stiles. Next step is painting.

One of the challenges in this project is that the door frame isn't square. Further complicating matters, the floor across which the door sweeps when opened is tilted quite a bit, probably 3/4" to 1" difference in five feet of floor.

It also took me a while to get things quite right when it came to using the Kreg Pocket Hole Jig. I love the thing, and am excited by how I can use it to build many things that would have beyond my reach (e.g., building a chest of drawers). It just took me a number of tries before I got an intuitive sense of what it was doing and why and when I might be making a mistake.

This initial struggle with Kreg Jig is related to a broader tendency I have to act (drill a hole, drive a screw, hammer a nail, make a cut, etc.) without fulling thinking through the implications of what I've done.

My next project is indeed a chest of drawers and I am spending a lot of time up front working on the design, including where and how to join the wood, before I ever buy a piece of wood or take a tool to it.

Thanks again for all the helpful responses to my questions. This was a great learning experience, both building the door and using this thread.

Mike Beers
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post #13 of 13 Old 08-31-2010, 03:44 PM
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Well done.
Now ifn der were anuuder pocket in the top rail fer da additional screw...
You can make plugs out of dowels or buy them premade for those holes.
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