With the patio project going, I figured it was time to at least begin addressing some of the loose items in the immediate vicinity of it. One item in particular, a hinged basement window that had unfortunately been broken during, well, a break-in. Yep, it happened for us just after Christmas last year. In other words, Security was a concern.
In this article, I detail the process of assembling my DIY Security Bars. I cover: How to Build the Frame, How to Make the Bars (Spoiler: I fill my bars with spray foam) and How to Install the Security Bars. (Click to Jump immediately to any section below.)
The gist of what I did and what it would take to make these DIY Security Bars:
- Rip two 2x4s in half & cut them to length. Two long 1x2s and two short 1x2s will be needed.
- Line up the short 1x2s and clamp them together. Working from the middle, determine a bar spacing.
- Measure and mark off the bar interval using a speed square.
- Drill 7/8” deep holes at each marking with a 15/16” paddle bit.
- Optional: A quick and dirty mortise and tenon system can made using a chop saw, hand saws and sharp chisels.
- Cut ¾” rigid (metal) electrical conduit to length. One side of each will be filled with spray foam at this point.
- Attach both long 1x2s to one short 1×2 (Make sure your drillings face in).
- Insert foamed-ends into the assembled portion of the frame.
- Tip the assembly up and fill the other end of bars with expanding spray foam. Agitate bars as needed.
- Feed finished bars into the drillings of other short 1×2 and attach the final short 1×2.
- Check square on the frame and clamp with corner clamps.
- Spray paint the entire assembly.
Now, I had already worked on getting this window in place. It is a wood window; in fact, all the windows in the house remained wood. I always particularly liked this particular window, because it is, idk … unique. Two 2-foot panes hinged both at the frame and at the meeting stile in the center. I always figured this window served some practical purpose in the distant past. Coal? idk.
I replaced the pane of glass on the left, the one that was broken, yes, last December. But I never got around to glazing or re-painting it. Why? Well, because I became concerned about this window as a vulnerability, and initially I just covered it with a piece of plywood. That is – until I could get a more permanent fix in place. (Maybe you had seen it in some of the shots I have taken from the (old) patio.) Also in this part of the foundation, I Repointed the Brick, as detailed there.
Security at a Basement Window
We (Mrs. Moxie & I) discussed briefly the idea of installing glass block in the opening, as that would surely secure things. But really, I wasn’t cool with it. I still liked the idea of being able to open that window. I may add a foundation fan one day and this window does already do wonders for air circulation down there.
So I then turned my attention to security bars. But on checking both the Home Depot and Lowe’s, not one thing that either place had would have worked. This then meant that I could do a little internet shopping or I could have something custom made. That, or I could build a set of my own. And ultimately, I built this set of security bars from materials I had lying around. The total cost as some folks would have it … $0. A set of $0 DIY security bars.
Together with a new planter box and some plantings, they should do a great job at deterring anyone thinking about trying to get in via this window.
Plus – I have since added in a window sensor, as I finally fired up my security system.
Building a Set of DIY Security Bars
While it would have been nice to have had some black iron pipe, as it is strong, and as it allows for threaded fittings … being used in everything from railings to shelving, I didn’t have any and I didn’t want to buy any.
What I did have was a bunch of ¾” rigid (metal) electrical conduit. While I considered running the bars vertically, I decided to save a little effort by running them horizontally, for a total of five bars at about 40” each or 1 and ¾ of two 10’ sticks of electrical conduit. I cut them to length on my chop saw.
To make a frame, I took two 2x4s and ripped them in half using my table saw. I cut my members to the exact length, two long ones and two shorter ones. Laying out on my temp work table, I labeled top/bottom, front/back and up/down. It was as this point that I determined my bar spacing. I took my two vertical members and using a method that worked with making a metal rail a few years back, I sat them side by side and found the center of each, lengthwise. I then clamped them together and marked across each board at its centerpoint using a speed square.
To assemble, I would do a real quick and dirty mortise and tenon, combining the table and shop saw with a little light chisel work. I test fit everything, and once I was happy enough, I finished with the markings for the remaining rail positions. Having laid out and looking at the length of the entire assembly, I worked out from the middle creating a 3 ½ inch spacing. I then drilled a 7/8” deep hole at each marked location with a 15/16” paddle bit (roughly the outside diameter of my ¾” electrical conduit).
Making the Bars
Now, one my biggest concerns with using this material for bars was that they are hollow. While I considered pouring concrete into them, either wet or better dry – I decided against it as the concrete itself wants to absorb moisture. I figured having concrete inside a rust-prone material like steel – probably not a good idea. In retrospect, I guess sand (which I had for the patio) would have been okay.
Instead, I decided to fill my “bars” with expanding spray foam. While I’ll admit not super easy, I think I was successful enough. I filled one end of each pipe using a delicate gun hand, and assembled that one end into the holes I drilled. Then flipping my bars (and half assembled frame) up on its side, I worked to fill the rest of the bars.
I taped two spray foam applicators tubes together (it didn’t work great) and I filled each bar a little bit at a time in several passes. The foam settled down into the bar as I went, and a small flashlight was very handy at confirming this.
I finished by adding the member at the other side of the bars. I glued up my tenons and my mortises and assembled the whole thing using a little light persuasion (read: a rubber mallet). Each corner was clamped using corner clamps (on Amazon there). And after checking with both a square and then measuring my diagonals (ensuring square), I then cut six 1 & ½ inch lengths from a short dowel. Drilling, gluing, I then hammered these in one each at the bottom corners, two each at the top corners.
I used glue to fill in some gaps in my fit and around the bars themselves. After it set up for a bit, I placed the assembly up against the fence and sprayed it black with Krylon’s Rust Protector. (This product was a prize/gift that I received from the company at the end of last year.) I let it dry thoroughly for, well, a week.
Installing (My) DIY Security Bars
The following weekend, I added in some rough made jamb extensions to the inside of the window frame. After all, my bars would need to clear the window hardware. I mounted my security bars with a set of galvanized utility hinges, set at the bottom rail of the bar frame. To give the whole thing a little extra strength, I added a pair of corner braces also at the bottom. With the bars folded down, I put a ¼” notch at the bottom of each window pane, so that the window could clear the bar’s hinges without issue.
I removed my temporary ply, I glazed the window repair and painted all 12 sides of the window. I secured it at the top on one side with a “locking” barrel bolt. On the other side with a hasp and a spare padlock. While I haven’t yet, I plan to add in nylon spacers, so the bars will sit tighter against the window.
Anyways, again this isn’t so much of a how-to or a brag, as much as there might be some technique in here that would help.