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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 02-08-2011, 10:05 AM
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Default Screen vent construction how to

A little guide on how I construct the screens for my Vivs. I've been building screens professionally for 20 years now but I find these tiny little things to be more time consuming and more difficult than the full size house screens I build! Still, if you can manage a hack saw, you can build a screen.
Here is a list of materials/tools that you can find at Lowes or other hardware store:
*4 plastic external screen corners-brown
*aluminum screen rail-brown (make sure you get a rail that fits your *corners--you will probably only find 5/16 at Lowes)
*rubber screen spline--this is the rubber "cord" that holds the material in place
*screen spline roller tool

You will not find a suitable mesh at Lowes. I like to use NoSeeUm mesh to prevent fruit fly escapees. You can order it here. Mesh for Clothing, Bags, Screening and more! I like the black. I have also used brown but it is harder to find. Funny thing is that you can see through the darker colors easier than the light colors.

I like to make my screens with a 1 inch wide screen mesh. The length of the "legs" on your screen corners won't allow this unless you cut them. Here are pics of the corners after I have cut them. You can see, when I put the long legs together here, that they are much too long for a 1" mesh. You can see that the small 1" piece of screen rail above it will not fit.
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:09 AM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

Here you can see that I have cut the legs down to 1/2" or less so that they can fit. You can also see how I have beveled each side of the leg, on a piece of sandpaper, so it can slip into the screen rail easier.
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:11 AM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

Here you can how the shortened leg allows the short, 1" rail to fit, followed by an assembled piece.
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:14 AM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

When you push the corner into the rail, it sometimes tends to "spread" the spline channel open. You can see a spread open one here, compared to one that I have lightly pinched closed with a pair of pliers.
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:20 AM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

Now we use our hacksaw and miter box (I use power tools myself) to cut the longer screen rails. Here are a couple of frames ready to mesh. You can see that the rails look slightly warped or bent out. This is called pre-bow and makes it easier to mesh long screens. Totally unnecessary on these tiny screens. The stuff you will buy at Lowes is probably not pre-bowed anyway.
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:25 AM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

Now I have placed the NoSeeUm mesh on top of the frame and you can see I have run the rubber spline partway in. I am using my fingers to help hold the material straight while I roll in the spline with my screen roller tool. You can see I am trying to guide the mesh in fairly straight.
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:28 AM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

Here is the screen roller tool we use for this. Here is a closeup of the concave end that we roll the spline in with. Third pic shows how I choose to hold my roller for the most control and pressure.
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:33 AM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

Now the corners don't like to go in easily. I show two methods of getting the corners in here. First is to use a screwdriver to push it in at the end, then fold the spline over the next leg and use screwdriver to push in the start of the next leg.
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:36 AM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

Next corner method I simply push the spline in as best I can and move on. I come back to it after the fourth side and use screwdriver to push it in. Be careful not to slip and cut mesh with screwdriver!
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Old 02-08-2011, 04:14 PM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

Pretty cool that's pretty much how I do it too, one thing I would mention is that if you're making a long screen, don't lay the screening in tightly when you're splining it in, keep it a little loose, otherwise the sides will bow in kind of like )(
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Old 02-08-2011, 04:59 PM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

That's how I did my first vertical too. I bought a kit that makes a 4 ft screen, I have most of it left over. Oh well I guess I'll have to get more tanks, darn Hahahaha.
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Old 02-08-2011, 06:16 PM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

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Pretty cool that's pretty much how I do it too, one thing I would mention is that if you're making a long screen, don't lay the screening in tightly when you're splining it in, keep it a little loose, otherwise the sides will bow in kind of like )(
Sorry guys, it got late I'll be finishing this later today. Good point Chris, that is why professional materials come pre-bowed. That way, when we roll the mesh and spline in good and tight, instead of bowing it in, as you pointed out, It instead pulls it straight. Mine are so tight I can bounce a coin off of them!
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Old 02-08-2011, 06:21 PM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

when buying the window kits I allways wondered why every one was bowed.
I couldn't imagine that they were stored standing up and thats why they were like that. I would go through every package trying to find the one with the least amount of bow to it.
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Old 02-08-2011, 06:26 PM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

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when buying the window kits I allways wondered why every one was bowed.
I couldn't imagine that they were stored standing up and thats why they were like that. I would go through every package trying to find the one with the least amount of bow to it.
Definitely on purpose. In fact, I will add more pre bow on long 5 or 6 foot screens. It makes it much easier to get it nice and tight.
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:21 PM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

Hmmm..youre timing is right on with mine apparently..just got all my screen stuff today...Im looking forward to seeing what is in store for us next...
I am , however slightly, worried...after the zombie cricket incident, Im wondering, with my luck, about the possiblity of freakishly strong fruit flies...who will just push the door of the viv open...hmmm...
HEY..Waaait a minute...are you supposed to be typing on a keyboard?..didnt they say, do NOT move you hand for 5 days?..Im sure thats what I heard..AHEM..
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:45 PM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

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HEY..Waaait a minute...are you supposed to be typing on a keyboard?..didnt they say, do NOT move you hand for 5 days?..Im sure thats what I heard..AHEM..
You're not gonna tell on me are you? I'm doing it all with my right hand. Flashback to 7th grade hunt and peck!
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Old 02-09-2011, 03:30 AM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

Almost done. Cut off the excess spline and push it down good and tight with a screwdriver.
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Old 02-09-2011, 03:32 AM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

Slice off the extra screen mesh with a good sharp carpet knife. You can see how I like to gently pull the waste material away as I cut it loose.
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Old 02-09-2011, 03:39 AM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

I love beef jerky! Frog jerky?...Not so much. So to prevent a possible failure, I like to glue my spline into place. Here I am running a bead of GE Silicone 1 along the spline. You can see in pic two that it does not make full contact with the frame and the spline. In pic three I have run my finger over the silicone bead, pushing and smoothing it into place.

That's it! Screen complete! Hope it helps!
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Old 02-09-2011, 05:59 AM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

Doug - I really like your idea to put silicone in the joints! I never thought of that!

Anyway, if you dont want to try using a hacksaw and getting a straight cut, I thought I'd share my FAVORITE tool. It is a mini cut-off saw that I got from Harbor Freight for about $30. I cut everything with it! Metal for vents and plastic door tracking for the sliding glass doors on my vivs. Just be careful! There is no safety gaurd on this cheapo tool. It may be small but it can cut off a finger easy
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Old 02-09-2011, 06:01 AM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

Here's a pic of the screen in place. Isnt it nice...
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Old 02-09-2011, 07:08 AM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

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Doug - I really like your idea to put silicone in the joints! I never thought of that!

Anyway, if you dont want to try using a hacksaw and getting a straight cut, I thought I'd share my FAVORITE tool. It is a mini cut-off saw that I got from Harbor Freight for about $30. I cut everything with it! Metal for vents and plastic door tracking for the sliding glass doors on my vivs. Just be careful! There is no safety gaurd on this cheapo tool. It may be small but it can cut off a finger easy
Kaity I love that tool!! I've GOT to have it!
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Old 02-09-2011, 09:25 AM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

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Doug - I really like your idea to put silicone in the joints! I never thought of that!

Anyway, if you dont want to try using a hacksaw and getting a straight cut, I thought I'd share my FAVORITE tool. It is a mini cut-off saw that I got from Harbor Freight for about $30. I cut everything with it! Metal for vents and plastic door tracking for the sliding glass doors on my vivs. Just be careful! There is no safety gaurd on this cheapo tool. It may be small but it can cut off a finger easy
I am going to pick one of those up. I have seen it before at Harbor Freight and never even thought about purchasing it. So far I have been using a compound mitre saw to make those cuts. I have to go very slow when making the cut or it will bend the metal. It works for now, but I do hate pulling out the little bits of aluminum that it shoots into my skin.
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Old 02-09-2011, 06:44 PM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

Question for those of you who have constructed your own screens. People who are NOT in the industry. How much does it cost the average Joe to purchase materials for 1 screen? (If your name isn't Average Joe, you can answer anyway!) I have considered offering screen vent building, custom made to your specs, but would need to know what it costs the consumer, and what people may be willing to pay. Afraid shipping might kill it, however.
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Old 02-09-2011, 08:36 PM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

The cost to the average person would depend on how many vents they need. Since most of the screen material comes in amounts that are way more than what is needed it might be cost beneficial to someone to order one from you.

Initial cost for one vent would include:

A yard of black fabric mesh - $2-4
Window screen frame - $5
Window screen spline - $3
Pack of 4 corner connectors - $6
Screws, nuts, washers and bolts to hold the screen to the plastic rim (stainless) - $4

So around $20-22 not including tax

This does not include any door hardware (door tabs, screws, nuts, and washers) for front opening vert conversions which would add another $5-6 to the cost.

So possibly you are looking at about $25-30 to build one screen. Now to build few more vents you would only need to buy another set of corner connectors and possibly some nuts and bolts. So you could get away with building the second one for less than $10.

I would not be too concerned about shipping cost. A completed vent would easily fit into a $5 dollar flat rate box, and even cheaper if mailed in a manilla envelope with a little bubble rate or newpaper.
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Old 02-09-2011, 10:21 PM
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Thanks! I'm pretty sure I can build and sell these for what you guys pay just for supplies.
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Old 02-09-2011, 10:43 PM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

The cost isn't too bad. Going off of memory, I think mine broke down as follows (and this is all from Home Depot or Lowes):
3-4 feet window screen frame: $2
4 corners window screen kit: $1.50-$2
Spline: $4-5
Screen: $5-7
Various nylon washers, screws, nuts: $3-4 dollars

Now you would still have plenty of materials left over, so if you pay an extra $1-2 each screen for the additional screens, the average cost would noticeably decrease. It could be more economical to just buy one or two kits instead of making the upfront investment if that's all you plan on making, but you would have to keep the shipping down.
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Old 06-03-2011, 06:21 PM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

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Thanks! I'm pretty sure I can build and sell these for what you guys pay just for supplies.
Are you willing to do this? If so, I might be interested in two.
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Old 06-04-2011, 03:11 AM
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Are you willing to do this? If so, I might be interested in two.
After becoming versed in how the shipping companies treat our packages, I'm afraid I really don't want to deal with prepping these for shipping. They are long and skinny and easily bent by careless shippers. Sorry.
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Old 06-04-2011, 03:51 AM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

That is pretty much how I have built my screens, but they are even narrower. My smallest is 1/2 an inch. I had to epoxy the corners and silicone over it in order for it to stay together. Good thread!
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Old 06-04-2011, 04:22 AM
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That is pretty much how I have built my screens, but they are even narrower. My smallest is 1/2 an inch. I had to epoxy the corners and silicone over it in order for it to stay together. Good thread!
Thanks Mike. I'll bet yours were fun to mesh!
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Old 06-04-2011, 05:53 AM
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After becoming versed in how the shipping companies treat our packages, I'm afraid I really don't want to deal with prepping these for shipping. They are long and skinny and easily bent by careless shippers. Sorry.
I know there is still a risk but if you put them in those mailing tubes they should be ok.

Tell you what I'll be your guinea pig you send them my way and I'll tell you if they make it ok.
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Old 07-31-2011, 01:07 AM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

Thanks doug! I actually ripped apart an old window screen that I didn't need anymore and made this. Took a couple tries to get right, but it turned out great. Finally some viv ventilation!
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Old 07-31-2011, 02:28 PM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

Thanks Pumilio
Great Thread, I just made my first vent for a 10g. Came out nice, only a few nicks, but they are hard to see and on the backside. I used special sand paper to clean up cut sides. I cut w backside facing up as my hand hacksaw sometimes slipped and would scratch the metal near the cut area. I held the frame down by hand w a towel under it to protect the front (face) from scratches. I have to make a few more, but I feel confident thanks to this thread.
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:33 AM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

I wish I could find black screen rails around here :/
Neither Lowe's nor Home Depot have them.
I just used spray paint...
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Old 08-04-2011, 06:51 PM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

Hey Doug. I'm going to try my luck at building one of these screens for my new PDF tank. Thanks for sharing and i'll tell you how it goes!
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Old 08-05-2011, 09:11 AM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

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Originally Posted by Dew View Post
Hey Doug. I'm going to try my luck at building one of these screens for my new PDF tank. Thanks for sharing and i'll tell you how it goes!
Good luck with it!
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Old 11-17-2011, 02:49 AM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

Since this thread could stand a bump and this is mostly much on topic...

I can't seem to cut in a straight line with a hacksaw, and my dremel's cutting wheels keep breaking while fixing my screw ups. I remembered the saw in this thread so I went to the Harbor Freight website for one of those mini-cutting saws.

Here it is, on sale, for $24.99
Bench Top Cut Off Saw

Use this coupon code for 20% off one item : 56805488 (through Nov 23)

With shipping and handing - less than $29.
Pumilo likes this.
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Old 06-03-2012, 05:32 PM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

Thanks for the info, this is exactly what I was looking for! Just one question though, once you have put the screen together how do you install it in the viv? can you just silicone it in place or do you need something a little stronger?
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Old 06-03-2012, 08:34 PM
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Default Re: Screen vent construction how to

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevenhman View Post
Since this thread could stand a bump and this is mostly much on topic...

I can't seem to cut in a straight line with a hacksaw, and my dremel's cutting wheels keep breaking while fixing my screw ups. I remembered the saw in this thread so I went to the Harbor Freight website for one of those mini-cutting saws.

Here it is, on sale, for $24.99
Bench Top Cut Off Saw

Use this coupon code for 20% off one item : 56805488 (through Nov 23)

With shipping and handing - less than $29.
Steven, that is the saw that I have been using for my viv screens. It works very well and gives a nice clean cut.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abidicus View Post
Thanks for the info, this is exactly what I was looking for! Just one question though, once you have put the screen together how do you install it in the viv? can you just silicone it in place or do you need something a little stronger?
Silicone is used to hold together fish tanks that hold hundreds to thousands of pounds of water. It will be PLENTY strong enough to hold your screen in place. I use GE Silicone 1.
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