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Making Radiator Covers

Materials List
Knot-free wood
Decorative screen (typically a special order item from your local home improvement or hardware store)
L brackets & screws
Wood filler
Carpenter glue
2-1/4 inch wood screws
Spray primer
Spray paint
Tools List (click item to shop)
Table saw
Heavy-duty stapler
Finish sander
Drill bits
Tin snips
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IMPORTANT: Read this before you start

Is your house heated by big clunky radiators? Are they eyesores that are taking up valuable space in each room? If so, you can build custom radiator covers that will attractively hide the metal monsters and provide you with a convenient shelf for storage or decorative pieces. Radiators come in many shapes and sizes. Radiators that fit under windows are generally shorter. Radiators that heat larger rooms are usually bigger and deeper. Most likely you have several different sizes in your house, so you will need to measure each individual radiator and custom make a cover to fit each one.

Skill Level & Time To Complete
• Beginner - 6 to 8 hours
• Intermediate - 4 to 7 hours
• Advanced - 3 to 5 hours

Use the proper precautions when working with power tools. Always wear eye protection and keep your hands away from moving blades.

Common Mistakes
Don’t forget to include any inflow or outflow pipes in your measurements. You will want to cover pipes and valves in addition to the radiator.

Helpful Tips
Knot-free poplar is a good wood to use for this project. It is easy to work with and finishes up nicely.

1. Measure the height, width and depth of the radiator. Make sure to include any inflow and outflow pipes that are connected to the radiator. You will want to cover the pipes as well as the radiator. To make sure there is enough space between the radiator and the cover, the inside dimension of the cover should allow for 1 inch clearance on all sides. To accommodate for this space, add 1 inch to the height and depth and 2 inches to the width. These dimensions will become your final interior measurements for the new cover.
2. A radiator cover is essentially a 3-sided box with a top. The front of the box will be a frame that contains a screen. The top and two sides will be solid pieces of wood. Plan your materials as follows: • 2 front corner pieces: ¾” x 1-1/4” x desired interior height • 2 horizontal pieces for front: ¾” x 1-1/4” x desired interior width • 2 side pieces: desired interior depth x desired interior height • 1 solid panel for top: cut to allow ¾” overhang on all sides of cover • Decorative screen that fits the 3 panels of the cover
3. Cut all of the frame pieces to the desired dimensions. If you purchased wide pieces of “1 by” material (which is really ¾” thick), use your table saw to rip the pieces down to correct width. Next cut everything to the correct length.
4. Layout the front panel. The top horizontal piece should be flush with the tops of the corner pieces. The bottom horizontal piece should be 2” up from the bottom ends of the corner pieces. This is to allow airflow at floor level up into the radiator.
5. Assemble the front frame with the 4 pieces of wood. Drill pilot holes in the corners of the frame. Drill a shallow larger hole to allow the screw head to be below the finished surface. Glue the pieces together and then put in the screws to pull the 4 corners of the frame together.
6. On the bottom of each side-piece, cut out a piece of rectangular-shaped wood that is 2” up from the bottom and that forms a back leg that is 1-1/4” wide.
7. Spread glue on the surfaces between the sides and the front panel and hold the pieces together. Make sure you drill pilot holes and larger shallow holes so the screw heads are below the surface. Attach the side panels to the front panel using three 2-1/4” screws.
8. Using tin snips, cut the screen to fit in the front panel. The screen should be 1” wider and taller then the opening (1/2” larger all the way around the opening). Use a heavy-duty stapler and staple the screen to the inside of the front frame. Put a staple every 2” or so.
9. Cut the top panel to allow a ¾” overhang all the way around the cover base. Use the L brackets and short screws to secure the top piece to the lower frame.
10. To finish off the project, use wood filler to hide the screw heads that are holding the corners together. Then sand all of the wood. Spray paint will give you the best final results, particularly on the screen. Give the new radiator cover a good coat of primer and then finally paint it with a spray paint the matches or complements the room where the radiator is located.



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