DIY Screen Door – Part 3
DIY Screen Door – Part 3

DIY Screen Door – Part 3

In case you missed it, here are the previous links for this now-completed project:


Last weekend hubby was on the phone with his favorite Aunty and was telling her about the screen door I made.  I heard him say “Alison’s philosophy is ‘why buy it when I can make it?’.  My philosophy is ‘why make it when I can buy it?’” – that made me LOL 🙂  I do buy some stuff, but a screen door seemed an apt challenge for 2016, especially due to my recent acquisition of a Kreg Jig [thanks to Ab & Briggs!] and a miter saw [thanks to Nat & Joy!].  I love my miter saw so much I could hug it [which I might have already done].

Last week it was finally sunny, so I grabbed the screen door and hauled it up to the deck off the master bedroom.  I also grabbed the stack of door shims I picked up at Home Depot, my drill, and the hinges.  I started by shimming the door in place – it mostly just needed to be raised up about ½” and the top right needed to be shimmed slightly to the left.  That created a perfect fit:


I opened the first hinge and laid it up against the door…  And realized the door sticks out from the door frame about ¼”.  D’oh!  The following is a tale of a wasted hour while I created 3 times the work for myself.  But in the spirit of being honest about the struggles of DIY, I wanted to share.

Realizing I needed to shim the hinges to get them to sit flush with the door [it’s sort of confusing to me that “shim” means the wedge-shaped pieces of wood used to square a door in it’s frame AND the thin pieces of wood placed behind hinges to bring them forward from the wall], I decided luan plywood would be perfect since it’s ¼” thick.  However, before going down to the basement to cut the luan, I decided to measure the EXACT depth of each hinge-to-door-frame disparity, because I thought it mattered.  Turns out it didn’t, but I didn’t know that yet.  This is where I entered what I like to call the Goldlocks dimension:  the top disparity was too thin for luan [at ⅛”], the bottom disparity was too thick for luan [at ⅜”], but the middle disparity was juuuuuuuuuuuuust right [at ¼”] bangs head against wall.

So, in my vast wisdom, I decided a paint stick was roughly ⅛” thick, so I cut a paint stick down to size for the top shim, a piece of luan for the middle shim, and a piece of luan glued to a piece of paint stick for the bottom shim:


Not realizing that paint sticks are crap and hard to cut, and split at the slightest hint of pressure.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  I used wood glue to attach the paint stick to the luan for the bottom shim:


Then marked the screw holes using the hinges as a template, and drilled pilot holes in each shim:


I also attached the 3 hinges to the door, making sure the hinge pins faced the top of the door, and the hinges folded flat against the door*:


I took the door and the hinge shims back out to the deck and re-shimmed the door [with the wedge-shaped shims].  I grabbed my drill and the top hinge shim [aka paint stick] and climbed up onto a stool so I could reach the top of the door.  I had everything in place, and then this happened:


The wind grabbed my paint stick and sent it fluttering down onto the yard wall, about 15 feet below the deck.  At least it didn’t fall the additional 10 feet into the old fish ladder…  Since the screen door was perfectly shimmed in place, I opened one of the girl cave windows, shoved my art desk out of the way, and squirmed through:

267g        267h

I retrieved my paint stick from the yard, went back upstairs, launched myself back through the window onto the deck, and successfully attached the top hinge to the door frame with the paint stick shim.  I got the other 2 hinges and shims screwed into place… and realized the door would actually sit better if the shims were the same thickness…  SCREAM.  It was apparent that ¼” shims – aka luan shims – would be perfect for all 3 hinges.  Live and learn.  So I headed back to the basement, quickly cut 2 more luan shims, and replaced the paint stick shims with laun.  So much better!  Total waste of an hour.  But that’s DIY for you.  Learn as you go.  Here’s why paint sticks make crappy shims – total splitsville:


The luan hinge shims work perfectly:

267w        267x

The door easily swings open and shut, and fits squarely in the door frame:

267j      267k      267l


There were a few fine adjustments I needed to make, like adding weather stripping along one side of the door to account for a small gap.  Here’s what the closed door looked like before and after I added the weather stripping:

267m        267n2

Much better!  We opted to go with hook & eye locks instead of an actual doorknob/latch.  That might change in the future, but for now the hook & eyes are working great [one near the bottom, one near the top]:

267o        267p

I also made sure the cross-piece of the screen door lined up with a cross-piece of the French door, for a seamless look:


When the French door is open we get incredible breezes blowing in off the river:

267r        267s

The last step was installing handles on the inside and outside, and a slide lock on the outside:

267t        267u3

Finished product, from the outside:


Not perfect, but I love it and am very proud of myself!

* Hinges can be tricky.  I learned all about that when I was hanging the catio door last summer.

I’ll close this post with 2 adorable pictures of sleepy rats:

267y        267z

UPDATE 7/12/2018:

The door is starting to show real signs of wear and tear after only 2 years.  I’m not sure if I used the wrong type of wood, or wrong paint, but the paint is flaking off and the door is warping.  Building a replacement screen door will be on my 2019 Projects List.

(Visited 309 times, 1 visits today)


Leave a Comment!