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I have a large front porch on my house and the little woman wanted it screened in. We also needed a door to it to stop our dogs from getting out while they are sitting with us and to keep skunks and other wild critters from coming onto the porch at night. I looked at buying some aluminum extrusion for making screen frames out of and the price was way too high for the amount I need. I have around 36' of openings that are 64" high and I want 3 to 4 separate frames per opening (4 openings) so aluminum extrusions could have been as much as $1000.

I came up with another solution and that is mostly what this post is about. I decided to cut grooves in my wooden frames with a saw blade and then use the same rubber spline material to attach the screen to the frame. I first cut a rabbet in the frame about 1/2" high and about 5/8" wide so that once the screen and spline were in I could cover them with trim pieces. The grooves went in about 1/8" from the corner of the rabbet.

I used a full kerf flat top grind blade and cut grooves about 1/4" deep. I think after this first attempt that the groove should be 5/16" instead. Also I used .130 gauge spline material and I will experiment with that too as I think that a slightly larger spline might work better in this case. Which is the right size of spline varies according to the width of the groove and screen material used. I used aluminum screen instead of the more common plastic type mesh. I'm hoping that the aluminum is more dog paw resistant and also UV resistant than the plastic. I've replaced screen before with the plastic and it is far more forgiving than the aluminum turned out to be.

Initial results are promising. Although I managed a decent job I think it can be improved on. The trim pieces have about a 1/8" lip on the top edge to cover up the edge of the rabbets by the way. The pictures show the door with the grooves and rabbet cut and one section already finished. Another shows the two quick jigs I made on the DP to guide me in drilling the backset for the handles and the hole for the latch. I used the in paper template included with the passage set for a guide. I clamped the backset template onto the face of the door and just before it went through I removed it and clamped a blank piece of ply on the other side to prevent blowout. For the jig to drill the latch I had to add a cleat so that I could clamp that jig over the edge of the door. There is enough clearance available in the standard sized holes that perfection is not required when drilling. The last pic shows the finished door.
 

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Job well done Charles looks good!
 

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Chuck that is the most beautiful screen door I have ever seen, great job. How did you keep the screen tight on the finished product? I tried to reinstall screen once and it was all baggy,not tight. I threw away the door and bought a new one and have never tried to replace screens again.
Herb
 

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Hey, that's a beatiful door. I also agree with Stick you need some sort of guard for the dogs. They often make mince meat out of screen material.

To tighten the screen, you have to have a little roller to press the retainer strip into a groove, which stretches the screen tight and holds it in place. I've lived with many screens over the decades, but don't have any now because it would spoil the look of the burgundy front door.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Chuck that is the most beautiful screen door I have ever seen, great job. How did you keep the screen tight on the finished product? I tried to reinstall screen once and it was all baggy,not tight. I threw away the door and bought a new one and have never tried to replace screens again.
Herb
Thanks Herb. Pressing the spline down over the screen and into the grooves is what tightens it up. This wasn't quite as tight as I would have liked and I think the extra 1/16" of groove depth might solve that. I've made and replaced a few with the plastic mesh type and it's fairly easy. This was my first attempt with aluminum screen and it is more difficult. You have to be careful handling it. If you bend it it has a memory and will show whereas the plastic mesh doesn't. If it doesn't go in right you can pull it back out and start over and it probably won't show. The aluminum is a one time shot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
nicely done...
now that dogs enter into the scheme of things - add a guard...

.
https://duckduckgo.com/?q=screen+door+grille+guards&t=ffsb&atb=v66-2&iax=1&ia=images
I squeezed the screen in between opposing muntins on the door to keep the exposed screen as stiff as possible but if there does appear to be a developing problem with dog paws then I'll cover up enough of the bottom to prevent further damage. Also one of the reasons for the grooves and trim to cover them is that I can pop the trim back off and replace the screen if and when necessary.
 
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Nice door Chuck,
From previous experience, I recommend you install a screen guard to prevent the dogs or cat from ruining your hard work. You can buy these at most hardware stores or make your own with expanded metal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
If I have to cover it Dan I think I might go with some plexi over the bottom. That will keep the dogs from damaging the screen without hiding the door.
 
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That's a sharp looking door. I like the design.

I was looking to purchase a wood screen door a couple years back, and other than one place in Ohio it seems most were made in China and poor quality.

A neighbor's cat kept scratching through her screens.
I found a "pet-proof" screen, repaired and repainted her porch, and installed the new 7 x's as strong screen.

Of course any determined animal could eventually claw through anything.
The best part was doing research and finding out that the herb Rosemary can act as an anti-catnip.

I brought sprigs of rosemary over from our garden and placed them in the corner where the cat usually clawed through the screening.
When the time came the door was opened, and the cat was allowed back on the porch. She ran to her favorite 'corner' and as she neared it recoiled and slunk back from the smell of the rosemary. It has held up for four years so far.

It is available online and at the local big box stores.
You can find info about it here:

PetScreen® Pet Resistant Screen ? Phifer
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I looked at that screen Pat but the plan is to finish screening in the entire porch, about 38' by 5' high, and the pet proof screen would have gotten pretty costly for all of it. That's also why I am experimenting with wooden channels. I looked at the aluminum extrusions and the cost was prohibitive. The grooves in the wooden frames have worked well enough but changing the depth and spline size may improve results.

My cats aren't the problem, it's been the dogs and so far they haven't put their paws up on the screen. I don't know if it's that the screen starts low enough that they have no trouble seeing out, or whether the uprights are deterring them or if the lack of a crosspiece that may seem like a ledge to stand on low on the door is the reason but so far the design is working. And the last reason for the door is that we have a resident skunk somewhere near that only comes around at night. I've gotten up and turned flood lights on but never actually seen him yet, otherwise he'd be dead. I'd have to endure the odor non stop for a while but eventually it would be gone for good. My wife has always been afraid that she might find the skunk on the porch in the morning when she was taking the dog out for his morning pee. No worries about that either now.
 
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