That Time Nothing Went Right And I Gave Up (aka, Yesterday)

Once again, we had gorgeous weather yesterday, and I was determined that I wanted to get an outdoor project done…or at least get a good start on one.  The project I had in mind was installing two screen doors on the front doors.

So let me back up a bit.

We have one of those houses that has two front doors.  When we bought the house it looked like this…

Exterior - front of house 03 - resized

I hated the two front doors, and planned almost immediately to turn the side door (which goes into my office) into a window.

Then one day, on one of my regular driving routes around town, I noticed an old house (probably 100 years old) with a similar door configuration, and it had matching screen doors on the doors.  It was the most charming thing ever, and every time I drive by I crane my neck just to get a view of it.

I finally called the real estate agent (the house is vacant and for sale) and asked if I could just go up to the house and take pictures.

antique screen doors

After a days-long search for these exact screen doors (online and around town at places like ReStore) with no luck at all, I finally decided that I would make some similar to these.  But to save time, I would start with two pre-made screen doors from Home Depot or Lowe’s.  So a couple of weeks ago, I picked up a couple of these when I was at Home Depot.

And of course, both screen doors were just slightly too wide for my doorways.  So yesterday I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather, and get outside to cut down my doors and get them installed.

I started with the 32-inch door that goes into my office.  I measured and marked my cut line on the door.

screen doors 1

As I’ve mentioned, I don’t have a table saw.  Yet.  So I had to use my circular saw.

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever used a circular saw to trim off a tiny bit like this, but it’s not easy.  Since there’s no wood on one side to hold the saw straight, and keep the blade at a perfect 90-degree angle, the saw keeps wanting to tilt.  And of course, that’s what happened.  Also, with some types of wood, when you’re cutting with the grain of the wood, the blade wants to follow the grain.  So try as I might to keep perfectly on my cut line, the saw kept pulling and wanting to follow the grain.

Plus, about half way through, my blade stopped turning altogether.

So I stopped, tightened my blade, and tried again.  But for some reason, my blade kept stopping.  So I had to move at a snail’s pace in order to keep the blade going.  Let’s just say that by this time, my attitude was heading south in a quick way.

To add to my frustration, the trimmed door didn’t fit.


So I measured and marked another 1/4 inch, and started to saw that little bit off.  Well, again, my saw wasn’t acting right.  So while I was concentrating on the back end of the saw, trying to figure out what was keeping the blade from turning, I got completely off course, and did this…

screen doors 2

At that point, I was just mad.  So in my fit, I chucked that circular saw across the front porch, marched inside and flung myself on my bed to have a good ‘ole pouting session that would rival that of any teenaged girl.  😀

Matt came in and talked me down from the ledge, and encouraged me to go outside and finish the cut with my jigsaw.  I finally did that, and it worked just fine, but I have no idea how I’m going to salvage this door with that big gash cut into the side like that.  If I trim off any more, it’ll be too small for the doorway.

I’m tempted to just toss this door, use the other 36-inch door somewhere else (I can’t return it because I’ve already opened it), and just make my own doors from scratch for the front.  With a Kreg Jig, the actual construction would be simple — definitely a heck of a lot easier than trying to trim off 1/4-inch from the side with a circular saw that isn’t working properly.

So that’s where I left my project yesterday.  And there you have it — proof that not all of my projects go smoothly.  But I’ll regroup, come up with a plan, and I will have my cute little vintage-inspired screen doors by the spring!

And hopefully I’ll even have a table saw by then, too.



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    1. I am glad that you are not the only one that has that problem with cutting off small slivers of wood and that I am not the only one that has a problem with their circurlar saw not wanting to cut some wood. It is so frustrating!!! And Table saws are not prefect either by the way. With a large thing like a door it takes two people to cut it. And I am jelous of your warm weather. I am trying to redo a bedroom in sub-zero weather. So everything has to be done inside. I need it done by the middle of March.

  1. Sorry that it did not work out (so far). I appreciate you being so honest & letting us know you are human. 😉
    Taking a break from it, sleeping in on it, etc. will allow you to come up with another (brilliant) save and learning experience for the rest of us who are continually inspired by you & your work.

    Chin up & move forward!

  2. LOL. Just realized how human you are. Before throwing the door away, try lots of wood filler and sanding. Could you rent a table saw for 24 hours?

    1. I was going to suggest wood filler as well (one that can be painted) and the renting idea is good as long as it’s inexpensive…..

  3. Hello,
    If you clamp a 2×4 to the door, it will make a perfect guide for your saw and you won’t get off track. Don’t give up! You can totally do this! Good Luck!
    Pamela Olivarez
    Kalamazoo, Michigan

  4. Lots of wood putty and sanding??? Good luck with your project. I need a storm door on my house, but I’m not quite that talented so I’ll just be buying something. Haa haa!

  5. Perhaps you could rent a table saw. I think if you put the door on another piece of wood that you don’t mind scrapping if you cut into it, and then placing a board as a guide with the same thickness up against where you are cutting it may make cutting it easier and ease the fatigue on your wrist trying to keep the angle right. I hope that makes sense…It is clear in my head but doesn’t always translate well. Good luck…I love this site.

  6. What you need (I need one too cause I can’t cut a straight line to save my life) is a “sled” for your circular saw. Some of the fancy pro models come with them but I recall my grandfather (who was a finish carpenter) built his own. There are probably plans on the net somewhere, though they probably assume access to a table saw. 😉

    Basically, it’s a fence (a straight-edge, essentially) for your circular saw that you clamp-down onto the sheet good you’re trying to cut. Then, you run the saw along the fence.

    If you can get a straight 1×4 (or similar) that’s as long as the door and a couple of clamps, you could mimic the same behavior without building anything.

  7. I have wondered about Matt. You are fortunate to have a husband who does not argue about your decisions for remodeling. He encouraged you when you were down. Does he help with any of your projects?

  8. What about trying Bondo (the stuff for automotive repair)? I have seen this used on Rehab Addict a few times to repair doors. I think it would provide the strength needed to build the door back up without worrying about it falling off after finishing (like wood filler or putty). Maybe even drill a few holes in the door’s side to give it an “anchor” like when you sister two pieces of wood or concrete. Good Luck!

  9. I think Home Depot would have trimmed those for you.
    I always tell my husband, if you get frustrated, STOP! Nothing good ever happens when your frustrated…only BAD! Lol

  10. Can I just say… I love you! Your honesty and transparency is beautiful! You are a real person! You don’t have a perfect life or a perfect family or a perfect house! You relate to me the “average joe” just trying to improve and beautify their life and home. Although, I will agree I think you are Wonder Woman in disguise. Your stamina and motivation is INCREDIBLE!! You go, girl! Love your blog and I can’t wait to read another post! Blessings, Lori

  11. If it were me, I would trim off the mistake, go buy a $7 can of Bond-O from the automotive store, mix up enough to fill in the space, let it dry, sand it down and your problem is solved and the door is ready to finish and paint. But that’s just me.

  12. i think you should go back and do the front door and make side door a window. too me you are try to match the other house and i do not think that is you. you do not do things that have been done before so if you just do the front door and make a cool window.

  13. Get you some guerilla wood glue a strap with an adjustable buckle. Fill your cut with gluewrap with strap and tighten it as much as you can. Glue will ooz out wipe off access glue and let sit for 24hrs if not 48 he’s to dry. You should be good to go. Hope this might be helpful .

  14. Agree with earlier posters – fill it, sand it and use it. you’re going to paint the door anyway, right? Nobody but the thousands who read your blog will ever know. 🙂

  15. I love this idea! I want to take my pantry door off and put in a vintage screen door instead. My husband and I just made a kitchen table and used a metal yard stick as a straight-edge clamped to the wood as a guide for the saw. The table top was too heavy to bother with on the table saw, so we used our circular saw as well. Totally worked like a charm! Give it a try!!

    Also, love your blog and all the hard work! 😀

  16. For the gouge in the door, could you take a file and make it look like it’s there on purpose? Shabby chic /farm house style? If not, I’d say putty & a sanding should do the trick!

  17. LOL! Thanks for sharing your ‘hissy fit’ with us. It just says that you are after all, human. I for one was beginning to wonder! Just Kidding! Clamp a straight edge on top of the door before cutting next time, and use the wood filler or Bondo to repair the off cut. Sanding and painting will cover the mistake; it sure has done wonders in my remodeling projects!

    But seriously, don’t be so hard on yourself for not being able to complete projects as quickly as you want. You’ve done so much so fast that my head would be whirling if it were me. Some projects just take a little more time. Please don’t feel that you have to finish a project quickly just to post pics for us on the blog; I think I’m safe in speaking for all of us who continue to be amazed at the speed with which you complete projects, and will still admire you if it takes longer. Eh, guys?

    Oh, and hats off to Matt for the moral support. Good job, Matthew!

  18. Here in the state of Kansas, that’ s called “pitch in a fit”! If anyone can get it done, you can. Thanks for the laughs and the courage to try again…tomorrow…maybe

  19. Kristi, sorry you had such a time. I am in love with my Dremel Saw Max! It would have been perfect for this project and I use it in place of my circular saw for just about everything because it is so light and easy to use. When trying to cut a long, straight line I just create a fence using a 2×4 (as long as it’s straight!) and clamp it in place. Perfect cuts every time. I’ve put mine to the test with tile, wood, plastic…everything!

  20. Yikes! Good to know that everyone has those days. Would’ve loved a photo of you chucking that saw across the porch – Olympic material, no doubt! LOL Wood filler will probably solve your problem or maybe some kind of trim?

  21. I have a table saw, but for this job I’d use a jointer plane or a jack plane instead. I got most of my planes from antique stores and junk shops for cheap, and sometimes they were in such good condition I didn’t even have to sharpen the blade. They’re much easier to use than a table saw for a job like this too, you don’t have to worry about keeping the door level and against the fence as you push it through. I think we have a tendency to reach for power tools, but they’re not always the right choice.

  22. Thank you for keeping it real and sharing the good with the bad. I’m sure you’ll come up with a solution. I can’t believe you don’t own a table saw though. My husband sold ours prior to moving which I think was a big mistake.

  23. Sorry you had a bad day but at least you tried. And the best part about it is I’m glad I’m not the only one that throws fits like that, So thanks for letting me know I’m normal lol.

  24. Since I can see myself easily getting into a situation like that, I want to say “Thank you!” It’s refreshing to hear someone admit that they sometimes struggle to get it just right, and they make mistakes along the way. But most importantly, it’s encouraging that you don’t give up. Put it aside and think on it, yeah. But you always regroup and come up with a plan to accomplish what you want. I really enjoy your blog, your beautiful creations, and your transparency.

  25. Love those screened doors. Wonder if you considered making the one to your office a non-operational door. Still a window that looks like a door on the outside. Inside it could give you some options to preserve wall space.

  26. Whenever I have to make any cut with a circular saw I clamp a board in place to run the saw along because apparently I have crooked eyes and cannot make a straight cut otherwise. Another way to get good straight cuts for a lot less than a table saw would be to invest 35 bucks in a Kreg rip-cut.

  27. Donchajusthatethat when it happens? 😉

    Can you glue and nail a shim as a ‘fill’ for that space and use wood filler and sanding to repair it?

  28. I’m in the same boat, Kristi. I do not have a table saw…so during my projects when I realize I need to trim off a very narrow part like you needed to do — I GROAN! Cuz I know it’s gonna be a pita trying to do it with my circular saw. You know, I actually think you COULD salvage that door. With some (a lot!) wood filler or bondo. Let it dry, sand it all nice n smooth, paint it up. Voila! Perfect looking door that no one would ever guess almost got chucked across the yard with the saw. 😉 Good luck with whatever you decide to do. And thanks for letting us in on a mishap. Any avid DIY’er has been right there with you many times. 🙂

  29. I’m so sorry you had a bad day…but it makes me feel SOOOOO much better about the messes I make sometimes. It will get better. 🙂

  30. Ugh, that’s my least favorite (and most common occurrence!) part of DIY … Until you can get a table saw, there are lots of ideas out there on how to make guide for them – is one that I like. The family handyman website has one as well, and there are others too – basic concept is a jig made to fit the width of your circular saw.

    I have a feeling this little hiccup is going to turn out fine, you seem to have a way of always making lemonade 🙂

  31. You could go ahead and trim it straight, add a lattice strip to take up the gap on the side, and then top it off with some decorative trim.

  32. OK – soooooooo glad I am not the only one that tests the “endurance” of their tools with a “chuck across the porch” test from time to time!!!!

    We have not invested in a table saw yet either – and we needed to do some door trimming as well! My husband came up with an idea – a planer – it was a fairly cheap version at Home Depot or Lowes – cannot remember which – and boy has that thing come in handy many a time!

    I have done the whole circular saw and jig saw “trimming” and man can that try one to a breaking point!!! The planer had worked like a charm!

  33. You will never know how many people are envisioning you chucking that saw, stomping into the house and flinging yourself on the bed. Ohhh…the vision makes me laugh…Sounds like this is the perfect excuse to buy a table saw. With the house (and garage) you now have the room and the storage for it 🙂 Go for it!

  34. You’ll figure out something. Eat some chocolate. Here’s what I want to know…I thought that side door went into Matt’s game room. Am I crazy or did you trade rooms?

  35. Sorry you had a bad day, but I’m just wondering when you might be getting back to finishing the living room? I’m so anxious to see the final decor. Just asking, not judging 🙂

  36. Reading about your goof makes me feel so much better about my many blunders. Making mistakes is better than never trying.

  37. You’re amazing! Your statement, “But I’ll regroup, come up with a plan, and I will have my cute little vintage-inspired screen doors by the spring!” says that you’re a fighter and that you won’t give in to adversity. You’ll figure it out and get those beautiful doors installed. Plus a little pity party never hurt anyone! You go, girl!

  38. Dear Kristi….. I can give you absolutely no advice on cutting a 1/4″ off of your door….. But, I guess it’s the artist in me….. just take a look at the WHOLE picture you took of the door marked for cutting. Now let your eyes travel to the left just passed your door….. below your door are the most beautiful array of fallen oak leaves…..placed as only Mother Nature can do…… you received really an unexpected gift….so you see…..your day was not a total loss. 😀 BIG ((HUGS)) Pat

  39. PS: Love the White Wooden Doors…. however, I would be rethinking louver for the outside…. speaking from personal experience, they will be a “Bugger” to keep clean…… Pat

  40. A carpenter taught me several years ago to use Bondo instead of wood filler. It is much easier to sand, is waterproof, and sets quickly. I would advise you, though, that it does shrink a little with drying, so overfill and wait a couple of days before painting to see if you need another layer. I have even used Bondo to repair wood rot on my windowsills, door surrounds, and shutters.

  41. I have had my fair share of aggravation with circular saws & jigsaw!!
    Finally just went out & bought me a miter saw with the laser. Can do straight cuts & miter cuts. It was a great investment! ! It was only $ 250 & has saved me much time & stress. I would recommend it highly!!
    Also love the Kreg & my nail gun & brad nailer!! It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you have the right tool for the job.
    You are such an inspiration!! Keep up the good work!!

  42. I know this comment will get lost in the hundred before it. But if you can’t afford to buy a jig saw, why not just buy a cheap hand saw? When I read that you used a circular saw for this kind of cut, my mouth dropped open and I couldn’t believe your husband didn’t come out and tell you how stupid that is. Especially alone. This 1/4″ cut could have been very bad for your health. The fact that you got it done at all even badly is amazing…. Now to fix it.

    Remark a straight line, use a hand saw and have someone hold the door while you cut, to cut down on the vibrations throwing you off the mark. Then use a shim on the side the screws go into to hold the door to the house to bring the door over to the right side. Paint it all the same color and no one will ever notice.

    Good luck. Still amazed you didn’t cut your leg off in this process.

  43. I just love you and your blog- I think the way you describe everything is great, you are so much fun to read!

    I usually do a whole lot of swearing…….too cheap to throw any power tool lol.

    Matt sounds like he is very supportive, you should do a post about him, we all are interested in meeting the guy behind the WONDER WOMAN!

    Thanks for the giggle today 🙂

  44. Yep, Bondo is what you need. It will work like a charm.
    It’s nice to know that youngsters have these “hissy-fit” problems…I was afraid it was just my age :^) Duck if you see a sewing machine flying by…….even the cat cringes upon occasion!

  45. Kristi,
    I believe that Lowe’s and Home Depot will cut the door for you. They have some GIANT saws in the back just for that purpose. I got them to cut some chalkboard for me recently. You might be able to get a similar screen door at ReStore. Although the door cost you $50, still, that’s not bad if you have to get another door.

    And, I LOVE the wood blinds under the fabric shades–AND the painting! Bree orders canvas pictures (of the kids) a couple of times a year when she finds them on sale. Let me know if you need the site she uses.

  46. OMGosh! You poor thing! I feel your pain, I really do. I wonder, if you get some skinny moulding, really skinny so as not to take away from your door’s design, could you cover that slit and save you from buying another door? It’s the easiest, least expensive fix I could come up on the fly. Hope something works! Hugs, Leena

  47. Hello,
    I love your blog. Your sincerity, simplicity is beautiful, and you are a real person! Your endurance and motivation is unbelievable! Of course making mistakes is better than never trying. You are such an inspiration.Keep up the good work! Start again with new eyes.

  48. I was watching Fixer Upper on HGTV and they were in Waco, Texas. And I believe that same house with the two doors was the house they looked at. Its listing price was $95,000. And was built in 1910. Pretty Cool.