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Old 09-28-2012, 02:40 AM   #1
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Any ideas for making a round window?


I would like to install ~5' tall, perfectly round windows in my home, and was wondering what would be the best/easiest way to do this. Assuming the opening for the window was cast from concrete, how should the frame for the window be made? I imagine it could be done by bending and joining solid pieces of wood, or, maybe it would be better/easier/faster to glu-lam strips of wood together(?) Ideally, the window would be hinged and openable, though perhaps the hinged part would not be at the full sides of the round edges, but from a partitioned segment closer to the center. This would generally only be used as a fire escape; there would be thin, rectangular (screened), open-and-closeable horizontal slots above and below the window to provide airflow.

I'm looking, first and foremost, for the durability of the construction. I don't have much experience with this - whether bent/joined pieces of wood would or wouldn't last longer than glu-lam.

What do you think?

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Old 09-28-2012, 04:14 AM   #2
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Any ideas for making a round window?


That's about the most advanced type of wood working in the world of building.

Bending is inherently unstable---the movement that will occur with the changed in seasons will cause binding.

Plan on glue ups----a good band saw and router table will be the tools of choice.

If this is to be an egress window--make sure that the operating window will be large enough to meet codes.

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Old 09-28-2012, 04:24 AM   #3
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Any ideas for making a round window?


You can buy manufactured round and other odd shaped windows from a number of places. It is unlikely you will find 5' ones that open though. They will come pre-hung and ready to put in place. Same companies will offer trim packages. Obviously you will want to coordinate with the manufacturer so you know how to deal with the opening in the concrete walls, framing support, seals and so forth.

I think they can be quite beautiful and can really define a dramatic space if matched to appropriate architecture. They look really out of place and goofy just plunked into conventional design, in my opinion.



Last edited by user1007; 09-28-2012 at 04:38 AM. Reason: Added Photos
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Old 09-28-2012, 10:07 AM   #4
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Any ideas for making a round window?


Just thinking out loud here....but I would be inclined to think that while the actual window is round, the frame would be square....and you would just cover up the frame with drywall on the inside and what ever you have on the outside.

So....your fist step is to contact some window manuf's
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Old 09-28-2012, 10:09 AM   #5
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Any ideas for making a round window?


sdsester.....love that first pic....reminds me of something from Harry Potter....
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Old 09-28-2012, 12:03 PM   #6
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Any ideas for making a round window?


go to a glass installer, they can make pretty much whatever you need. typically it would be an aluminum frame for the window.

you have code requirements for minimum U-factors (energy efficiency) for the glazing
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Old 09-28-2012, 12:58 PM   #7
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Any ideas for making a round window?


sdsester: Wow, the pictures of the large round windows is definitely what I'm looking at doing - they're beautiful!

Note to all: Unfortunately, I won't be able to "order" these windows - I'm going to have to make them, myself. (This is, after all, the DIY chat.)

That's another question: Assuming I *would* have to have custom-sized/shaped safety glass, is it possible/practical to make one's own insulated glass windows?

ddawg16: Hmm, interesting idea. It would certainly make the overall construction and glazing a lot easier. Hmmmmm...

oh'mike: I don't quite get the need for a bandsaw. Do you mean to be used to cut curves in solid pieces of wood?
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Old 09-28-2012, 02:14 PM   #8
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Any ideas for making a round window?


Quote:
Originally Posted by obi_donkenobi View Post
sdsester: Wow, the pictures of the large round windows is definitely what I'm looking at doing - they're beautiful!

Note to all: Unfortunately, I won't be able to "order" these windows - I'm going to have to make them, myself. (This is, after all, the DIY chat.)

That's another question: Assuming I *would* have to have custom-sized/shaped safety glass, is it possible/practical to make one's own insulated glass windows?

ddawg16: Hmm, interesting idea. It would certainly make the overall construction and glazing a lot easier. Hmmmmm...

oh'mike: I don't quite get the need for a bandsaw. Do you mean to be used to cut curves in solid pieces of wood?
I am pretty sure that is what he meant.

There are two ways to make a circle out of wood....

1. Take long thin strips of wood...steam them and bend them around a form...glue...and you basically end up with a plywood wheel. The band saw is good for cutting thin strips.

2. Take multiple pieces of wood...typically about 4" wide...cut each end at a slight angle...join and glue making a rough circle....you then cut the center round...

Either way is very time consuming....which explains why a lot of windows are square or rectangular.

You want the easy way?

Make a big square window....then cover it with a circle.
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Old 09-28-2012, 02:20 PM   #9
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Any ideas for making a round window?


If you are required to obtain a permit for your project I would recommend contacting the building department and determine if you can build your own window, and if so what requirements will it need to meet.

I'm sure Cali has as tough energy code requirements as we have in Massachusetts. I'm sure you'll do an excellent job in making the window, I'd just hate to the see the building official tell you to take it out if it doesn't meet the energy code requirements.

Good luck!
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Old 09-28-2012, 02:31 PM   #10
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Any ideas for making a round window?


Quote:
Originally Posted by GBrackins View Post
If you are required to obtain a permit for your project I would recommend contacting the building department and determine if you can build your own window, and if so what requirements will it need to meet.

I'm sure Cali has as tough energy code requirements as we have in Massachusetts. I'm sure you'll do an excellent job in making the window, I'd just hate to the see the building official tell you to take it out if it doesn't meet the energy code requirements.

Good luck!
GB is right....

Little details like low E....double glazing....and depending on location...tempered...
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Old 09-28-2012, 02:44 PM   #11
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Any ideas for making a round window?


I would definitely start with your building department and a glass company to see what you need to comply and what kind of frame you are going to have to build so you can glaze the windows in place.

I know this is a DIY site but you may end up having to get the glass sandwich with some sort of aluminum or fiberglass frame. Then dado to fit that in your wood frame in the wall itself. It might be cheaper too. I honestly do not know.

You can build yourself a steamer out of large diameter PVC pipe but getting a homemade laminated frame past inspection could be tricky. I like the idea of building the frame from a square made from planks. See what the building company will allow.

Your going to need some sort of trim/retaining ring for these windows too? Steaming and laminating the trim might work since if the piece tried to spring on you they would be held by your actual frame itself. You could and probably should do the trim in sections. It looks like that is what they did in the both pictures. Second one does not appear to have glass in it though.

Just thinking out load a bit too. I have restored smaller round window frame trim but never built a round window from scratch. There is a gorgeous old mansion with some along the top floor that date back to the 1800s so the concept is not new.

Good luck. Keep us posted. Pray you never break one of those because something tells me the glass is not going to be cheap.

Last edited by user1007; 09-28-2012 at 02:46 PM.
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Old 09-28-2012, 02:56 PM   #12
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Any ideas for making a round window?


Found this, a little different approach using epoxy to make 4-7' round window frames. As stated, it is more boat building technique than home building though. Not sure what your inspector will say.

http://www.epoxyworks.com/12/circwindow.html
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Old 09-28-2012, 06:37 PM   #13
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Any ideas for making a round window?


Yes, I was planning to get with the Bldg Dept to verify code requirements, and to make these windows double-paned; from what I gather off the web, only the inside or outside panes have to be tempered, not both. That'd be nice (i.e., cheaper).

It would be easier to cut round holes in a square frame, and that idea did appeal to me, BUT, it wouldn't look or be as cool, so I'm afraid I'm going to have to go the hard road, and make truly round windows - oof!

sdsester: Cool link to the writeup on that boatbuilder guy's round windows. However, it only dealt with the window frame - not the window itself. My window frame will be shaped concrete, so that shouldn't be a problem for me. I do believe a homemade steamer is in my future, though!

Here’s another cool concept I just thought up: make the windows openable on a pivot point either in the vertical center, or maybe offset a bit to one side. If the window frame slopes away from the sill, sealing it to keep water out shouldn’t be too hard. That might require some custom metalwork for the required hardware. Whee!

I plan to blog the whole project. If you're interested, I have another blog about a trip I took back in 2009, cycling around the US on a recumbent tricycle. http://cycleamerica2009.blogspot.com/

Last edited by obi_donkenobi; 09-28-2012 at 06:45 PM. Reason: Fix some typos
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Old 09-28-2012, 06:54 PM   #14
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Any ideas for making a round window?


Quote:
Originally Posted by obi_donkenobi View Post
Here’s another cool concept I just thought up: make the windows openable on a pivot point either in the vertical center, or maybe offset a bit to one side. If the window frame slopes away from the sill, sealing it to keep water out shouldn’t be too hard. That might require some custom metalwork for the required hardware. Whee!
You are talking a pretty heavy piece of glass of your window sandwich is two thermal panels or something and your diameter is 7'. Your frame material is going to have to be pretty strong and the hardware robust so the wind doesn't grab the whole thing. Pivoting windows are certainly doable though but perhaps not so large as you have in mind. There will be a lot of weight and stresses in a couple directions especially on the bottom pin if you put the hardware top and bottom.


By the way, walked past a restaurant with round windows on the way home from the bank and paid some attention to the trim. It looks like they used tongue and groove about 4" wide. Looked alright.
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Old 09-28-2012, 07:27 PM   #15
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Any ideas for making a round window?


sdsester: Good point (about the weight). From the center, then (if the Bldg Dept even allows it - which they might).

Ach - a fellow FSMer! I've got the car magnet, meself, matey!

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