Custom Wood Screen and Storm Door

By Robert Robillard on Finish Carpentry

Dry fitting – prior to hinges

Hanging the Door

When fitting the door, I usually allow 3/16 in. clearance on the vertical widths and 1/4 in. in the top and bottom. Consider cutting the door bottom at a 12-degree angle to match the threshold. We accomplished this with the Festool track saw and rail guide. The saw and guide ensure a straight, cleanly cut line. (If you don’t have access to a track saw, a rip-guide clamped to the door and a circular saw will also work.

I built the doors to fit the opening, so once we were ready to install them, I knew we would need to trim them to fit. With the doors held in the door opening with shims we were able to mark the reveals and existing hinge mortises and transfer those measurements onto the door slabs.

Scoring for hinges

When fitting the hinges, with the bottom shims in place and holding proper reveals, slide the doors to the jamb that will receive the hinges. Mark three hinge locations on both pieces on the door and jamb

Routing hinge

Using a hinge as a guide, we held and marked the hinge profile on the door edge and scored this outline with a utility knife. Scoring the door prevents tear-out from the router bit. A trim router is then set to the exact depth of the hinge and is used to cut out the hinge mortises. I like the router as it provides me with a consistent hinge depth setting and is fast and efficient.

Note: Sometimes after hanging a door on the new hinges, the doors need adjusting to fit. When this is the case, I use a power planer or block plane

Adjusting routed hinge slot

We again used the hinges as a template and pre-drill all of the hinge holes, and then installed the screws.  I do not recommend using a drill or impact driver to install brass screws; they’ll snap at the screw head. Use a screwdriver and install them by hand.

The last step is to install the latch, striker plate, and door slide bolts.  Unfortunately, the old slide bolt latch place left a large hole [scar] in the oak threshold that had to be patched prior to installing the new latch strike plate.

Watch out when you are purchasing and installing handles for your French doors so that they do not interfere with the closing of the interior door. Some doorknobs stick out too far and will prevent the screen from closing properly.

Once we had a good fit we removed the doors and brought them into the shop to re-prime cut ends and install the final coats of paint.

Dry fitting doors

Finishing the Door

Ninety percent of a great paint job is prep. The more time spent preparing this door for paint the better.  I sand the door to 80 grit in the shop but a painter should bring that to 120 or 220 grit.

I recommend a coat of quality primer, followed by two coats paint. Ensure to paint all sides and edges of the door to protect against moisture and movement. I also recommend sanding in between coats for a better paint finish.

Note: many exterior wood doors fail because the top and bottom edges were not primed and painted. These edges have exposed end-grain that will wick water into the wood through capillary action.


Plan on spending $300-400 in wood, $40-50 per screen [4] and $100 in storm panel [4]. In the end, making a combination screen door will cost approximately $900 to build.


Building your own custom door is not only rewarding, it allows you to create the style door you want, using the best materials and saving you money on a carpenter’s labor. If you plan on tackling this project yourself, plan on at least 4 man days to do the entire project.

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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