Barn doors are a hot item in design/decorating now. And, for good reason. It's not always convenient to have traditional doors swinging into a room or hallway, and pocket doors just seem cheap typically. If you've considered barn doors, you know how expensive they are too. Even the hardware is outrageously priced if you (like me) considered just buying solid core doors and doing it yourself. So, I took it a step further, and compared to some of the sites I browsed, saved somewhere between $500-$1000 making my own. I am not a carpenter, you can totally do this.
Step 1: Step 1: Design and Decide
Doing some web searching will enlighten you to several facts. Hardware options are varied (and expensive), door styles are varied (and expensive), not to mention the materials/options for the wood from reclaimed (expensive), distressed (expensive), you get the idea. For hardware, there seems to be 2 main styles people go with: the traditional single wheeled brackets that roll over a thin metal strip, or the less often used trolley hanger with box track. If you search for "barn door hardware", you likely won't even find the 2nd, which is generally a lot cheaper of an option. Search for "trolley hanger" and "box track" to find these more industrial choices.
Step 2: Step 2: Get Some Materials
I decided, in the interest of cost/budget, to make my own doors and use some hardware my wife bought from a major online retailer that might have started in a rainforest in Brazil. Off to the big box hardware/supply store I went. While considering cedar, the budget ended up choosing Whiteboard for me. I used 1"x8"x8' for the main build, 1"x4"x8' for the outer frame, and 1"x4"x10' for the diagonals. I strongly, strongly encourage you to take your time in wood selection, especially from a place like there, where warping, twisting, and general beat-up-edness are all factors for your raw materials. With some 1 1/4" wood screws and a fresh tube of liquid nails, I left with about $125 spent. The previously mentioned hardware was about $75 for the width I needed, shipped from China quickly, and brought the total material cost to $200.
Of note, if you don't already have a doweling kit, I strongly suggest you pick one up. These were essential in adding not only strength to the finished product, but also helped to keep the alignment during clamping/gluing.
Step 3: Step 3: Take Very Few Pictures While Building
So, the general build goes something like this:
On a work surface of sufficient size (or a big floor), lay out your boards and begin the fun process of deciding which boards will go where. If you have nifty tools like planers to ensure straight/square edges, now would likely be the time to use them. For those of us with only moderate tool access, you can do it like I did and sort of jigsaw puzzle the boards together to find which ones fit best into your door shape, where you screwed up and bought warped boards after all your checking, and curse that you don't own a planer. Use your doweling kit to drill holes in the edge of 1 board (placement isn't super important, but as close to center as you can), use the pointed pins to mark your other board, then drill and dowel. Dry fit everything together before you open that wood glue to make sure you're happy with the fit, mark and sand high points, etc. Then, glue and clamp everything together.
Step 4: Step 4: Repeat
Repeat the process for the 2nd door. At this stage, I also attached my top and bottom frame pieces from the back with the wood screws for added stability (because my wife was rushing me and I only have 2 of my really big clamps). Once dried, you may find that despite your best efforts, the boards are not perfectly even or flush. Call it "character", or get busy with the sander (hand planer if you are so equipped).
Step 5: Step 5: Finishing the Doors
Complete your framing, still using the screws from the back to be hidden from view. Layout and mark/cut your diagonal or cross beams (depending on the style you choose), and affix it with screws. Sand and stain/finish it now if desired, or put it off indefinitely like me. Affix your rollers to the tops and track to the wall following provided directions, realizing that in China the concept of 16" stud centers must not exist. Drill a few more holes in the metal track and eat up some drill bits in the process, then practice every swear word you know while hanging these by yourself out of stubbornness. Lastly enjoy the ooohs and aaahs your hard work has earned you, and smugly point out you did it all for about $200, or $100/door instead of $1000/door they can sell for online.