Decor a door with screen door panels

Choosing a pattern.
Choosing a pattern.

When I was making my sliding garage screen door I wanted to add something different to decorate the door. I have already chosen my plywood and tested some router bits. So now its time to get busy with the experimenting. 🙂

 

 

The first step was to decide on what patterns to use. On the screen door, the upper panel was taller than it was wide. And the lower panel was the opposite of that. So I decided to pick patterns that fit in a similar way. I chose the fish jumping out of the water, as I had done a similar pattern before with plywood. But this pattern is one of ours, from our company’s archives. I also chose a beaver cutting down a tree.

I knew I was going to use tracing paper to transfer the patterns to the plywood surfaces so I decided to give the plywood a coat of white deck stain first, and let it dry overnight (Fig 1).

Fig 1.
Fig 1.

I used 1/8 inch thick luan for the top (fish) panel and 1/4 inch thick d-grade plywood for the lower (beaver) panel.

The next step was to size the plywood panels so that they fit the screen door spaces. These panels were approximately 34 x 30 inches (upper) and 27 x 30 inches (lower). With that ready, its now easier to center the pattern onto the plywood. (Fig 2)

Fig 2.
Fig 2.

Next is to position the tracing paper (Fig 3).

Fig 3.
Fig 3.

Now its time to get busy tracing the pattern onto the plywood. This took less than 10 minutes (Fig 4).

 

Fig 4.
Fig 4.

Here is a short video I made.

 

Now that the pattern is transferred to the plywood, its time to position the plywood panel and clamp it to my workbench (fig 5). With the router bit having to pass completely through the plywood, I didn’t want it to cut up my bench top (not that its anything special). And I didn’t want to put in a piece of plywood because, well, that would be a waste of a piece of plywood. My solution was to cut out a piece of heavy cardboard (I always keep some in the workshop) and use it. This sort of cardboard can be found are furniture stores. Just ask the manager if you can have one or two.

Fig 5.
Fig 5.

First cut, and things seem to be going good (Fig 6 and 7).

Fig 6.
Fig 6.
Fig 7.
Fig 7.

So here’s a short video I did of the second cut.

 

This fish pattern is now done. I have to say that cutting it with the spiral bit and the 1/8 luan left very little fuzziness on the cutting edges to clean up. This cutting and sanding took just under 1 hour to complete (Fig 8).

Fig 8.
Fig 8.

Now you get to see what I’ve been trying to achieve! So what do you think? (Fig 9)

Fig 9.
Fig 9.

Here’s a closer look (Fig 9A). As you can see, there are a couple things to notice. First, the panel needs to be painted again. And you can also see where the 3/8 spiral bit did not get to the corners and finer points of the pattern. And that’s ok. For me, the result is just fine. I will though, experiment with the 1/8 inch bit when I go to cut the beaver pattern.

Fig 9A.
Fig 9A.

So now I am making the lower panel, the beaver. The pattern has been transferred and ready for cutting using the 3/8 inch Freud spiral bit. (Fig 10)

Fig 10.
Fig 10.

Earlier I mentioned about using the 1/8 inch double flute bit to fine tune the cutting. Fig 11 and 12 show the before and after of using the 1/8 inch bit (where needed).

Fig 11. Before 1/8 inch bit was used.
Fig 11. Before 1/8 inch bit was used.
Fig 12. After 1/8 inch bit was used.
Fig 12. After 1/8 inch bit was used.

The pattern is all cut out, made from the 1/4 inch d-grade (low quality) plywood. Now, I have to say, it took about 20 minute to route the pattern but it took nearly 40 minutes to clean up the fuzziness. Luan plywood is clearly the choice material to use for such a purpose, much less sanding.

Now for the big reveal! 🙂 (Fig 13)

Fig 13.
Fig 13.

If you recall, I had used some heavy cardboard as the scrape material underneath (Fig 14).

Fig 14.
Fig 14.

I’d love to hear from you, your comments, your suggestions, your praises 🙂 and your critiques 🙁

Pretty good for a couple hours work.
Pretty good for a couple hours work.

18 thoughts on “Decor a door with screen door panels”

  1. WOW the door looks amazing!! I love how you used the router to cut out the fish and beaver! I love your tracing paper, btw, works very well!!

  2. Absolutely amazing work and the detail is incredible. I really and truly love your work. The crafters in this family are truly incredible. I am glad you are my brother.

  3. What a great way to dress up a doorway! I loved this project Jim and think you have a winner here! This would also be great for a summer cottage or cabin, or even a garage door with a garden or bird theme. Beautifully done! 🙂

    Sheila

  4. Looks fantastic. It was a great idea to use those patterns for a door panel. I never would have thought of that, it was genius. I think the router did a great job for this type of job. You have a steady hand to have done this. My only suggestion is next time on some of the pointy corners is try a handheld Dremel or a coping saw. Also, maybe use wide masking tape and tape off the 3/8″ wood first and trace your pattern on the tape. Maybe that will cut down the fuzzies.

    1. Thanks for the tips Vickie. I don’t have a dremel, but I do have small bits, and a coping saw. I could of used the scrolling blade on my jig saw too, that would work well. For this one, I was just looking to see what the spiral bit could do on its own. The tape is a good idea but I think the age of the 3/4 plywood might have been a factor. Its probably 10-15 years sitting in my wood pile. 🙂 I’m not one to throw out a good piece of wood.

    1. Thanks Anna. I didn’t realize it either! 🙂 That’s one of the things I like about trying something new or different, you just never know what the outcome will be.

  5. You never fail to impress. This door now looks like an expensive piece of custom work. It totally gave the entire porch a whole new look! Your step by step instructions and videos were so helpful that I think maybe even I could do this! INSPIRING Jim!
    PS) Nice disclaimer on the eye protection

  6. You certainly did a nice job. I am amazed that it didn’t tear out more on the outermost layer, especially on the luan. I don’t know how you can see what you are doing with such an enclosed router either but you managed to and it turned out great!

    1. Hi Keith,

      Thanks. A couple have commented on how difficult it must have been, but I could see it clearly. Mind you now, on the back cuts, sometimes I was moving the router blind. For me, its not that important to follow every single line and every single curve. After all, it was the first time I ever did something like that.

    1. Hi,

      These are my own patterns. I have updated the article to shows links to the online store for the downloadable patterns. The patterns are meant to be printed on 8.5×11 inch paper. If you cannot resize them yourself, send me an email and let me know what sizes you need and I will find out what it will cost. Probably going to be about $8 for each one to get it sized like I did.

      Thanks,
      Jim

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