I have a guesthouse with an unusual door, 32" x 76", and it needs a screen door.

Home Depot has tons of cheap-o screen doors that could be cut down to maybe 32" x 78" safely, but an additional two inches will probably cost my screen door structural integrity.

I've thought about building a screen door, but -- well, I lack some of the tools I think I'd need, namely: a planer, a joiner, and mortise and tenon jigs. I have a table saw, but it's disassembled and I have no where to actually run it. I do have a circular saw, a router, a jigsaw, a miter saw (chop saw), and a hand drill (all electric).

I could order a custom screen door for $250-300, but I can't believe there isn't a less expensive solution out there. I spent $300 for the door itself -- and can't believe I should have to spend another $300 just for a screen door.

Most of the plans I've found on the net require tools I don't have, and are overly complicated for my guesthouse's needs.

Here are a couple of possibilities, and I'd really love your feedback:

  1. Could I accomplish what I want with just some pegs and maybe a couple of L-brackets? Or will that be too weak with the constant slamming of the door?
  2. Is there a simple way to construct a mortise and tenon jig that would enable me to use only my router and maybe a drill for this project?
  3. Am I missing some other obvious option?

Where are you when I need you, MacGyver? ("macgyver" should really be a tag here on diy.)

  • I actually did find it to be of use! If I said something rude, I apologize. Could you please put it back?
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    Commented Jun 3, 2013 at 20:28
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    Commented Jun 4, 2013 at 7:47

4 Answers 4


Personally, I'd get the table saw a portable folding stand, you can do basically everything you need with the tablesaw and can build any of the jigs you need.

You could also do most of the work with your circ saw and router but getting the wood to the correct dimensions is going to be easier with a table saw since you don't have a planer or jointer.

Instead of mortise and tenon, look at doing half laps for the corner joints and for a support brace or two across the middle. You can probably get some nice looking metal braces to strengthen up the corners as well. You should be able to do half laps using your circ saw or router. You can also profile all the edges with the router to making look nice.


I would use a prebuilt screen door and cut out section of rail with screen and reattach with dowels and glue


Am I missing some other obvious option?

Mortise and tenon joints will be stronger but no need to spend that much money for all those tools to make a simple screen door. You can get away with a drill and a miter box.

Make the door using either glue and pocket hole joints or dowel joints. The materials to actually make the door are pretty cheap. If it falls apart in half the time a mortise and tenon door would you can make a new one.

You can cut mortise and tenons by hand. The tenons on the rails are easy to cut with a hand saw. You can drill out the tenons in the stiles with a drill and clean them up with a chisel. It's not like you have that many to do.

You mentioned you have a router you can use that as well. Here's a video on making mortises with a router.


Plans for a screen door were published in the August 2010 issue of Woodworker's Journal, if that helps at all. Try libraries and/or see if you can find someone who'd lend you their copy.

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