Well, I was ready to start draping the chicken wire over the conduit-reinforced PVC framework around the new raised frame garden beds, when it occurred to me that it might be a better idea to make a door first. No sense in wasting chicken wire by covering a spot and then having to cut it out later. And a lot easier to work in an open space than a close one cut to size.
Not that I didn't expect to need a door, but the order of construction matters. I'd considered the door before, but kept putting it off because I wasn't sure exactly how to do it. How do you build a screen door into a chicken wire wall? I HAD a screen door. In fact, I've had it for 25 years. And thereby hangs a tale...
Not long after a neighbor moved in, he came over asking if I wanted to buy a lightly used screen door. He was replacing his front door for a fancier kind that came with a front door and screen door together as a unit. Well, I didn't have one on MY front door, and assumed I should. So I bought it cheap. And then, being busy, let it sit for a year in my garage. When I finally went to install it, I discovered it was larger than my front door.
It was a surprise to me. Being new to owning a house, I assumed all front doors were the same size. I considered building a slightly larger frame around the front door, but decided that would look dumb. And then I wondered why I need a screen door at all. So it sat in the garage...
Well, I decided to see what I needed to do to use the darn thing in the garden enclosure. It didn't seem promising. There were some side attachments, there was actually acrylic panels covering the screen, and I couldn't even find places for hinges. There were even medieval-looking point bars on the front. But knowing that there HAD to be some way it worked, I backed the car out of the garage and spread the pieces down on the garage floor.
After some examining, moderate enlightenment arrived. The medieval bars could be removed! That done, the whole door was lighter and easier to handle. Then I examined the 2 thin strips of unattached molded metal that came with the door.
AHA! there were 3 hidden hinges folded into them. Shifting each around in various ways, I discovered one side of the hinges fitted into a slot in the door opposite the handles. Well, that's where the hinged SHOULD be, of course.
I tried to slide the molded metal strip along the track the hinges belonged, but it was blocked by screwheads. Damn! Hmmm, when I removed the screws, I saw the holes matched other holes in the door. Hurray, that was how the thin metal strip attached to the door.
Some of this may be obvious to any Do-It-Yourselfer, but as many projects I have done and things I've built, I'm not really mechanically-inclined. Each project is a new experience in re-inventing the wheel. I have to figure out everything as if for the first time, every time! If you have a job that involves building or fixing things, you gain experience through repetition. I, on the other hand, seldom have cause to do ANYTHING twice. So its always something new to me. Fortunately, I am persistent. And if something has been built to go together, I know there ought to be a way to put it BACK together.
Sooo, I finally figured out how the thin molded metal strips attached to the door and then a frame around a door opening. Still didn't have a frame to put the door INTO, though. I dreaded the idea of constructing a frame solid enough to hold the door in the enclosure, yet precise enough to fit the hinges and door lock to close firmly.
Discouraged, I went to Home Depot (a local Big Hardware Store) to see if there was a decent screen door already built into a frame to make it easier to install. I bought in interior wood door like that years ago when I built a "powder room" in the basement. No luck. But I DID notice that the display doors were built into wood frames that were then attached to metal frames.
EUREKA! If I built a 2"x4" frame around the door using the metal strip attachments I had now attached to the doors, I would have a frame I could attach to posts in the ground with a couple of inches of adjustment ("wiggle") room. THAT I know how to do!
I haven't decided whether to just half-lap the corners of the wood frame and attach corner braces, or make a tenon and glue-and-screw, but at least I know a way to attach a door to the garden enclosure tightly enough to keep squirrels out.
The construction and connection of the frame will take a whole day. Digging holes for 4"x4" posts at the enclosure and squaring them up, etc, will take another. The attaching of the framed screen door to the posts afterwards should only take an hour, but I will want to give the 4"x4" posts a day to set in the tamped ground to be solid enough for some weight, and I'll brace everything for a few extra days.
I won't need to use the door until I'm done covering the framework with the chicken wire and I expect that will take a couple days itself.
But the result will be that there is a sturdy frame with 4"x4" preservative-treated posts set 2' deep in the ground with a similar top and base at ground level about an inch wider than the frame of the door. To which I can easily screw the door frame into the posts having inches to spare in all directions to make the door straight up and easy to open and latch.
Whew! That is one big worry off my mind. In this project that threatens to never end (but will), there are solutions...
I can start work on that tomorrow after I go to Home Depot and buy three 2"x4"x8' preservative-treated boards . One 8' board for each side and one to cut in half for 4' pieces. After some hesitation about how to proceed with the door, I'M ON MY WAY AGAIN! YAY...