My father recently had a screened porch added to the back of his house. It is wonderful. You’re surrounded by giant screened windows all around you. However, there’s part of the design that really stood out to me as being a bit odd. Above you, there’s a large open space that goes to the peak of the ceiling. That alone isn’t bad, but that section somehow feels more open than the rest of the porch. When I sit on the porch, I keep finding my eye drawn up there, and since it is more open, I end up feeling like I’m down in a hole. I know, that’s an odd psychological jump, but it is true!

I had the idea that that by breaking up the space up above, the room itself would feel more open. It is a bit counter intuitive, but as it turns out, it works well.

As I looked at this giant screened area, I was reminded of the stained glass windows of churches. My first thought was that I would do a large stained glass piece for my father, but I didn’t persue that for a couple reasons. One, stained glass takes forever. It is a ton of work. I couldn’t devote months and months to this. Also, my father mentioned that he didn’t want the breeze to be blocked. This gave me the perfect excuse to move away from stained glass. However, the image of those shapes and geometric patterns wouldn’t leave my mind.

Ultimately, I thought that simply creating the outlines would serve the purpose well, and look fantastic.

I talked with my father a bit, and explained what I wanted to do and asked what he wanted. “How about some frogs? What about a peace sign?”. Ah, I love my dad, his taste is delightful.

This is the concept I sent him.

slapped together in photoshop

He loved it and said to go for it.

The original design was created by mashing up rough scribbles and random images inside Photoshop. Once he approved it, I brought the concept image into Adobe Illustrator and simply converting it to vector. That resultant vector file was just pulled into Autodesks Fusion360 for the CAM work. A few of the curves had an issue and didn’t pull through, but I just ignored them and kept going.

the file within Fusion 360. No need to duplicate the side piece, I just cut the same one twice.

Since this was going to be somewhat exposed to the elements, I used pressure treated plywood. I know that this will eventually distort and curl, but I’m OK with that. A super thick coat of outdoor paint should help a bit with that possible curling, but ultimately, a bit of a bend is fine.

Here are the two lessons I learned while making this:

  • Make a finishing pass after rough cuts, especially when using fibrous and/or damp wood. I kept getting little rough edges that I could have smoothed out with another pass. Sanding them was not fun.
  • Get a paint sprayer. Trying to paint all those little nooks and crannies with a paint brush was an absolute hassle. I ended up bribing my kids to go through with a tiny paintbrush and get all the insides of the cut-out sections.