Screen Play

Chris Janks’s screen doors blend practicality and high style

The thwack of a screen door is surely one of the most evocative sounds of summer — though too often, the look of the door doesn’t match the happy mood. Luckily, that’s easily fixed. Woodworker Chris Janks, who lives in Ulster County, makes handsome custom screen doors that add pizzazz while keeping the bugs out.

Janks, 35, who grew up in New Jersey, studied sculpture at Alfred University in western New York. Summers were spent as a glass worker in Seattle (“the mecca for glass blowers,” he says). Post-grad, Janks headed to San Francisco and then Oakland, where he made neon sculpture and signs. “Somehow this all funnels down to screen doors,” he says, as he relates his serpentine route to woodworking in Mt. Tremper. “But there were pivotal things in between.” One pivotal thing was a period in Chicago. “Love took me there,” Janks says — specifically his sweetheart, Jackie, also an artist, who was in school there. (She’s now an art therapist.)

Janks can create a
screen door that
matches your home’s existing solid door,
or create something
more whimsical.

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Well-chosen hardware, distinctive hinges,
or a bold color can
add yet more style


After the couple moved to Brooklyn, Janks got a job as a set builder for Martha Stewart, working “under the tutelage of Paul Robinson, a British carpenter who was a real inspiration in my life,” he says.
Janks married Jackie at Manhattan’s crowded City Hall on “the last day of the last century. Every nationality in every kind of traditional wedding dress was there. It felt like Ellis Island but with jubilation,” he recalls. Soon after the attacks of September 11, the couple moved into a Colonial Revival in Mt. Tremper, where Janks set up as a custom woodworker doing “anything at the fine woodworking end of the spectrum.”

After whittling away at one too many a screen door that didn’t fit its out-of-square doorway, Janks was inspired to offer hand-crafted versions. He uses rot-resistant local Catskill white pine or mangaris (a species of mahogany), and brass or stainless hardware that can withstand our Valley climate.

As for that screen-door sound, says Janks: “There’s the ‘swish’ camp and the ‘slam’ camp. I always try to figure which a client will want. Nine times out of 10, I guess right.”

For more information, call Chris Janks at Jankscraft, 845-688-5897 or visit â—

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