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make a window?

1799 Views 8 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  TimPa
I've seen a lot of threads on the forum of people building their own doors, but I can't recall ever seeing one of someone building a window.

Long story: when this house was converted previously to a duplex they took out two of the original windows to the house and replaced them with garbage vinyl ones. One was the same size, one was shorter due to the base kitchen cabinets. I've looked every where I can think around town for a replacement of the shorter one but can't find the longer size I need. No clue where they got these. This room is now a bedroom. I went around looking for just old window sashes today at various salvage places and couldn't find any.

My option is to either order bottom of the line Pella windows (or other) for around $230 each, or make my own. The original windows were not counter weighted so the sashes were just made of solid wood (no slots on the side edges) and have 6 lights per sash.

Question: I'd just need to build the 4 sashes roughly 31 1/4" x 32". It doesn't seem like a hard task to do, with the right router bits, but I guess i'd be concerned about warping. Is this something worth trying to tackle?
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I would. I thinking of doing that to some of mine in my house.
Disclaimer: I have built storm windows but no proper sash.

You could do it without too much trouble. The trick is very good, straight-grained stock. Quartersawn ideally. Cost-wise it might be a toss-up though. A good pair of cope and stick bits is like $200.
It's not difficult to make wooden windows however the modern factory windows are more air tight and energy efficient so unless you have an irregular size I think it best to buy the windows. If you choose to make the windows they are made much the same as a cabinet door. You would need a coping and sticking window sash set. The window sash doesn't have quite the joint a cabinet door has the top rail of the upper window and the bottom rail of the bottom window will need to be doweled. The top rail of the lower sash and the bottom rail of the upper sash because they are only about 1 1/2" wide will need to be through mortised. You might look at this thread, http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f5/modifying-rail-stile-cutting-bits-window-sash-joinery-54130/ where I have the joint illustrated.

The jamb is just a board with two dado's run in it for the windows to slide in. For the hardware there is just two pulleys installed in the jamb on each side with a cast iron weight that floats loose in the hollow space between the jamb and framing. There are places that sell reproduction hardware and you can often find the weights on ebay. They are not cheap though. The sill at the bottom where the window sits is cut on a 14 degree angle for water drainage.
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I would call you local lumber yard and ask them about replacment windows that are built to size, there are a couple of brands around here that make them to your measurements. I have installed a ton of them on remodel jobs. You can get very good quality for a decent price as well. Vector windows is the brand here I am thinking of. I think that it would be worth looking into.
Thanks a lot guys!

Steve, the house was built in 1839 so there are zero efficient windows. I could replace these with nice ones since they are in the back of the house and the architectural review board has no say on that (just what can be seen from the street). I figured since all the other windows match, and I could potentially save money building my own, then it's not such a bad idea. Fortunately it's not a weighted system so I wont have to worry about all that. The window is still framed for old wooden sashes. The previous "contractor" just took out the sashes, put new manufactured windows in, caulked the gaps around it and called it good.

Troy, I've been to 5 different places now and no one had a replacement. But maybe I should ask about other special orders. Lowes was the only one that quoted me and i'm sure they're not the cheapest. I've used a couple of vector windows in my house before but the place I got them didn't have the size I needed (31 1/4 x 65ish). I might see if the place I went can special order that size and what that would cost.

Thanks again for all the info.

If I do go for building my own, does anyone have any feedback for router bits. Are the "two bit matched sets" better than the single reversible bit? MLCS sells a two bit set for $69 or a single one for $39. I'm guessing the 2 bits is just less of a pain to work with maybe. I also saw whiteside has a single bit for $88. I've found MLCS bits to hold up fine for the amount of times I use them so i'm thinking that may be the better set for me to get. But I do like the whiteside's.
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I would look for a major window replacement company in your area. They will be able to build energy efficient windows to any size. With an old house in the Charleston climate I am sure that energy savings is a major concern.

Allright,you have to promise not to tell anybody you heard this from me....haha.

Am assuming we're talkin wood sashes here.You've done the measures on what your sashes need to be....duh.Look at the size of the glass on stock windows and find one that you can mill off some exist wood(on the new window)and do a nice job of adding whatever dimension/specs/details to the "new wood" add-ons.It takes longer to write than do.You will need some equipment,and some decent precision to get this done.I like epoxy's,but there's other glues that will work fine for this.

The above is so you can retro fit insulated glass into exist(historic)frames on a budget.It is when you aren't replacing frames.So,you'll be trying to source just the sash from a wood window source.It dosen't work "everytime"(size wise),but you owe it to the customer to at least explore the option.We've used it frequently enough that is an ace up your sleeve so to speak.
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I've rebuilt my share of sashes, for rot repair. they can be built but you need to study a well built one to get all of the construction details. lately I use marvin tilt pacs. check em out. I have had decent results with them.
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