adding window grillework
Q: We can't afford new windows but want to dress up the old ones. I'd like to add a grille to the three picture windows at my house so it looks like they have muntins. Is this something I can do myself?

—Annie Valliere, Bath, Maine

A: Norm Abram replies: That depends on your woodworking skills and how much you want to spend. Here are a couple ways to go.

The simplest method is to use square or rectangular stock thin enough to butt into the square, unprofiled edge of the sash. Where the horizontal and vertical pieces cross, you'll need to cut half-lap joints using a table saw fitted with a dado head, or a router fitted with a dado bit. The joinery itself is not particularly difficult; the fussiest part is tuning the depth and width of the cut so the pieces lap perfectly. Work with scrap stock and keep adjusting the cut until you get it right. Secure the finished lap joints with a dab of woodworking glue and then weigh each one down until the glue sets. Be sure the assembly stays square and flat while the glue dries.

The professional approach is more difficult and more expensive but will probably look better. You'd need to buy or mill stock with a profile similar to the one around the inside edge of the sash. Then the ends of each piece will have to be coped to make a tight joint where pieces intersect. Coping cuts, which make a mirror image of the molding profile, are done with a cutter bit mounted in a router table or shaper. If you can't find a cutter that matches your profile, you can have one made.

Of course, you can also have the grilles made for you. Start by contacting the company that made your windows. Most of them can supply ready-made options designed to match your window. If that's not feasible, then also fashions custom grilles to fit most any type or shape of window. A simple, unpainted pine grille for a 4-by-4-foot window, for ­instance, costs about $60.

Whether you order a grille or make your own, you need a way to hold it in place. Window companies often use sliding-pin hardware that sticks into the sash frame. This hardware is available through Big Blue Window as well. Or you can just stick the grille to the glass with heavy-duty reclosable tape, like 3M's Dual Lock fastener tape, that you can pull apart and stick back together. Apply the tape in just a few spots so the grille can be removed easily when you want to clean the glass.
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