Storm Door Inserts

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Troy posted 06-23-2010 12:28 AM 4465 reads 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Several days ago, I was asked to rebuild a few storm door inserts destroyed by some overzealous dogs.

Dogs – 1 || Door Insert – 0
I hesitated a bit because it seemed liked a boring production item, but I am not one to usually turn down a woodworking project.

No better softwood
So I got some high-grade Douglass Fir and went to work replicating the screened versions.
The mangled model was made with bridal joints in each corner and separate strips of wood throughout with mortises for the cross rails. I decided to use half-lap joints in the corners, all one piece with Festool Dominoes to connect the cross rails. The screen keepers had to be separate strips though.
A stacked dado setup took care of most of the initial precision milling following planing for thickness.

Good start
Feather-boards make this kind of work simple and accurate. Using my reliable Incra Miter gauge, I made the half-lap joints the same way, but instead of measuring, I lined up the rails and stiles and marked them off of each other.
Once the outer frame was complete and dry-fit, I moved to the cross rails.

Cross rails – Dominoed
The example had 3/4″ tall strips, but that wouldn’t work with the smallest dominos from Festool, so I went with 1″ instead, which was unnoticeable and stronger. Those who have used this Festool machine know its usefulness and excellence. (Disclosure: I am still not affiliated or sponsored by anyone or thing).

Extremely well engineered tools…
The tool works like a biscuit joiner with the same purpose of dowels, except that it is far stronger, doesn’t allow rotating and provides much more gluing surface. I seriously doubt that there is a better way to glue up butt joints.
With all pieces prepared, a full-frame glue up was the next step. The corners received finish nails from an air tool as well as glue. For some reason, I pulled out one of the nailers, removed the nails within it, compared them to the frame thickness, realized they were too long, got out the shorter nails, put the original ones back into the nailer and proceeded to secure one end of the frame to the table. Luckily, they bent and twisted out cleanly and recessed easily with a punch.
Once the assembly was dry, the next step involved mimicking the inner-edge profile as close as possible.

Larger bearing for shallow profile
After some comparison, it was clear that I could accomplish this well enough with a Roman-Ogee router bit fitted with a larger bearing. Since the rails and stiles were so narrow, the router table became the only reliable option – with good results. Of course, the corners required a bit of chisel work.

The -44 part of this sander did well
After some sanding, including edge and flat, I had to figure out how to color match somewhat. I tried several variations of shellac and dyes. I ran out of fresh shellac so I went to HD to get more and reluctantly purchased amber-colored as well. That decision turned out to be money…it matched near perfect, esp with a couple drops of brown dye.

I think I found the universal rustic finish color-match
Following that, I used spar urethane for the top coat. Since all surfaces were so narrow, I opted to brush after debating on whether or not to use the spray system. Brushing certainly reduced waste, but created unpleasant problems. The shellac would build up on the underside and leave darker splotches and the spar would leave dried-up drip bumps. Fortunately the shellac was easy to clean up with denatured alcohol and the spar could be leveled with a plane iron and blended effectively.
After a night of pseudo-baking the spar, it was time to secure the screen material. Each keeper strip was evenly drilled with pilot holes with a little countersinking. Instead of using nails like those found on the destroyed version, I went with screws. Trying to remove the nails from the example only further ripped apart the strips. Screws allow anyone to easily replace the screen as needed; nails don’t.

Pilot holes countersunk
The longer strips were secured at the first hole with a screw in order to ensure the rest of the holes lined up throughout. The screen material had straight edges, but no straight ends so it was necessary to establish straight lines on each bottom.

Gotta have clean lines
I used tin-snips to cut out each panel of screen a half-inch shy from length and width measurements.

Sides first
Using the clean side and starting from the middle outwards, the first side strip was secured, as well as the opposite side.

Middle out prevents bunching
The last two screws from each end were left out in order to tighten up the corners after securing the ends in the same manner.

Use a level surface to assist with tightening

Eye-level result
Believe me, less than great results show in obvious ways that such as bumps and creases as opposed to a smooth and flat surface.
Although this project was far more functional than aesthetically pleasant, the inserts still provided a degree of challenge and skill.

Chalk it up – done
Not all commissions or jobs will be epic design and master builds. When those times arrive though, any and all woodworking experience will come into play.
Thanks for reading!
Your Arctic Woodworking Friend,

-- Troy Bouffard || Master Sergeant, US Army (Retired) ||

7 comments so far

View degoose's profile


7286 posts in 4691 days

#1 posted 06-23-2010 12:35 AM

This was well executed and well documented… take pride in all your work… it shows…

-- Be safe.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4640 days

#2 posted 06-23-2010 01:13 AM

good job troy…always enjoy the project…like you said…big or the quality that counts..taking pride in whatever job were given…...put your name on them and hang them…grizzman

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View a1Jim's profile


118309 posts in 4913 days

#3 posted 06-23-2010 02:49 AM

View lew's profile


13488 posts in 5092 days

#4 posted 06-23-2010 05:48 PM


As always, your blogs are step by step instruction guides written in a manner that can be easily followed. You certainly have a give helping us understand the processes you use to complete your projects.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4501 days

#5 posted 06-23-2010 06:02 PM

Nice description of how to build a common household item. I have had screens destroyed by dogs myself, although don’t have a dog now, just Kermit the conure, and he is enough pet for us.

Sometimes simple items take considerable work and skill to produce. I think this is a lot more difficult than it appears. I remember I was living in an old double wide trailer for a year and a half in Fairbanks during a transition time, about 27 years ago. The windows were single pane (should have left that misspelled as ‘pain’) and so the previous occupants had just covered them with styrofoam during the winter, making for a very dark house.

I was able to purchase a large roll of a very high quality transparent plastic sheeting from my old buddy Joe Golath at Community Hardware on Badger Road. Probably bought it at wholesale. Don’t know if you know much about that era of Fairbanks, but Joe is deceased, and community hardware is long gone. But I have a number of tools and other items in use that I bought there about 30 years ago. He was a libertarian. I remember meeting Joe Voegler there, and sat and drank brandy with them in the back room while they played chess, and talked about Alaska seceding from the union….......(-:

Anyway, using my RAS in a very large old garage on the property, I cut up some pine, and using lath I built up double pain clear window quality plastic covers for every window in that trailer. Sherie helped. Using weather stripping for a seal, I just screwed them over the existing windows, making the windows into triple pane. The trailer stayed markedly warmer and had much more light in it, for the one winter I stayed in it.

Well off to work, thanks for viewing the garden, dropped you a reply there as well…....

Alaska Jim

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View woody57's profile


650 posts in 4764 days

#6 posted 06-24-2010 02:59 PM

Is this a business or hobby?
I don’t see how you can make money at this.
Forgive me for being a little grumpy today, but lately it’s getting harder and harder to make any money and people are always asking for favors. If you do the favor that encourages them to ask for more.
Yesterday a friend ask if I would do the cabinets in a repo house he had just bought (the previous owners trashed the place). He wants to flip it and wants everything on the cheap. I learned a very big word. NO!
I sent him to home depot.

-- Emmett, from Georgia

View Troy's profile


186 posts in 4400 days

#7 posted 06-24-2010 06:02 PM

Emmett, this is my business. This project was a favor, a paying favor. I was paid well for it. You don’t see how i can make money at this cause you don’t understand my setup and situation. But I totally understand why you say that in light of recent difficult times as well as lower 48 basic woodworking economics.

-- Troy Bouffard || Master Sergeant, US Army (Retired) ||

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics