Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Windows And Shoji Screens

     This post is the first under the new label of windows and I want to start with a window I wrote about on February 13th, Woodworking At 831. It brings up a couple of points.

     We had put this window in years ago when we were remodeling the garage into a bedroom and we were kind of poor at the time. It was an inexpensive aluminum slider that met the egress requirements for a bedroom. But it was also inefficient in that it leaked air and the solid aluminum transfered a lot of cold into the room in the winter.

     At the time I had not absorbed the advice of a friend of mine who said that good windows are a good place to spend money. They will pay you back over and over. And they are a pain to replace later. My favorite are aluminum clad, wood, awning windows with insulated glass. The aluminum clad holds up much better to the harsh sunlight of the southwest than vinyl and they are weather tight. The exposed wood on the inside looks nice either painted, stained or oiled. And awning windows are better at keeping rain out if you forget to close them during a storm.

     Facing to the north east this window gets no sun most of the year. But because the bedroom is on the north side of the house and we needed a window and one that met egress requirements we were stuck. This is one of the problems with remodeling as compared to building new. Which brings up my next point. Concentrate your windows to the east and south where they will let in sun during the colder months. Windows to the north are good for summer ventilation but should be kept to a minimum because of winter heat loss. To the west the harsh afternoon sun is too much in the summer and may over heat the house.

     Years later we were stuck with this window but it was cold in the winter so I built a wood storm window with 1/8" plexiglas that helped a lot. You can see the storm in the above photo with the small knob to help remove it in warmer weather. The thin wood frame uses lap joints at the corners.

     But I still wasn't satisfied so I built the sliding shoji screen that can be closed on cold winter nights and lets in lots of light on cold winter days. The screen is in three sections that slide along a wood track system that easily allows them to be removed by lifting up and out. The frames are mortised and tenoned  together and use the same wood working techniques as your typical window or door. I have never gotten into biscuit joinery but I suppose that would work fine. All the wood is local ponderosa and fir except for the tracks which are maple, a hard wood that will not wear down from repeated use. This requires pretty precise wood working techniques and a suitable shop space. 

     The screens are made from rice paper from a local art supply store and the paper is glued to the wood grids with white glue. From previous experience I had noticed that the paper will tear. It can be easily patched with more paper and glue, or multiple sheets can be glued together with a watered down glue during assembly making it much stronger. But a friend came up with a better idea. Make two grids with paper attached and sandwich a layer of 1/16" plexiglas in between. Works like a charm and prevents the holes in the paper.

     I know this is a door but it gives a nice view of the screen and grid that the paper is glued to. The screen assembly can be attached to the door frame with thin brass rod cut into 1" or so lengths and inserted into pre-drilled holes through the grid into the door frame. Leave them out far enough that you can grab them with needle nose pliers to remove them in the future. You can find the brass rod at jewelry supply stores and it looks nice.

     This is the outside of the window which you can see on the far left of the photo. Which brings up yet another point. It is always nice to create a landscaped scene out side your window.

     The folks who bought this house took that one step further creating this beautiful scene looking out the very same window. This is a view that can be enjoyed all year long.

     Back to shoji screens, this is a restaurant in Portland, Maine. This gives another another view of Shoji. It is interesting that the grid on the panel to the far right is different than the others.