Posted on Leave a comment

Building Confidence (And Screens) with DIY Projects

Sometimes taking on a new task can be frightening. The lack of experience and fear of failure are enough to keep some people from ever accomplishing anything outside of your comfort zone. But don’t let these things hold you back. On the contrary, use your new projects as a way to get more out of life, including skills and lessons that you can apply to other parts of your life.

For example, last week I was tasked with a request at work to assemble some screens for one of our clients. There were a lot of thoughts bouncing about, most of them being related to how I had no idea what I was getting myself into. To be honest, I’m not much of a DIY guy, but I also like a good challenge, so I took on the project with some extra gusto and jumped straight in.

Screen frames, fiberglass screen, spline, and a utility knife
Screen frames, fiberglass screen, spline, and a utility knife, my tools of the trade.

My first order of business was to figure out how I was going to make a screen out of these frames, fiberglass lining, and spline. It’s not rocket science or anything, but for a beginner, it can still be a bit of a challenge to go from piles of material to finished project, so I consulted my trusty companion: the Internet.

After watching a very useful video on the subject, I had enough of a grasp on things to get to work. Since the custom screen kits we were using were measured and already had the corner guards and pull tabs built on, I didn’t have to do any cutting or measuring and was able to just snap the frames into place.

The assembled frame of a screen
The assembled frame of a screen, ready to be screened and splined.

The next step was to cut out a section of screen lining to be laid in the frame. Our kit came with a roll of charcoal fiberglass screen. The important thing to remember for this part was that each side needs to be a few inches longer than the dimensions of the screen, a mistake I overlooked during my first attempt. But to err is human, so I cut out another section of the lining and moved on to the next part of the project.

A (mostly) assembled screen and a spline roller
A (mostly) assembled screen and a spline roller.

My last major task was perhaps the most daunting of all: rolling the spline over the screen into the frame. Using a spline roller, which is like a glorified double-edged pizza cutter, my objective was to keep the screen in place while also making sure it’s tight. I had to have done this part at least three times before getting the hang of it. A good piece of advice would be to start pulling the screen away from the opposite edge once you reach the third and fourth sides. This will keep the screen nice and tight, kind of like the head of a drum.

The finished product, a fully built window screen
The finished product, a fully built window screen.

After what felt like an eternity of frustration and blister inducing pain, my hard work had finally paid off. The first of the screens was complete. Not only did I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment after relishing in the fruit of my labor, but I also had the confidence and hands-on experience to finish the other four screens in considerably less time. The first one took about an hour or two for me to finish, but the others maybe took 10-15 minutes each. It felt good to get them out of the way at last.

All in all, do-it-yourself projects can provide great insight on things such as problem solving, patience, and craftsmanship. If you want to give putting a screen together a shot, consider getting your own screen kit and feel the satisfaction of putting something together with your own two hands!

This article was written by Alex Norris.

Leave a Reply