Introduction: Homemade Biparting Barn Doors Out of Leftover Wood Flooring
This project was built for our new home at the request (*ahem* determined pushing) :) of my wife. There were no rules, she had no designs in mind, and she even trusted me on most of the decisions I made along the way even down to the hardware selected. Knowing her likes and better yet dislikes, she gave me complete creative expression to take my design/construction background and just get it done. Over the years I have amassed all the tools that I needed but 1 major problem....no place to build them! So through creativity, a little knuckle busting and some sweat equity we created something beautiful out of a little refuse with a little new materials and something that we are proud of and hope that you enjoy or are inspired to also do something and show off your creations. Thank-you for taking the time to read this instructable, I am honored to have your attention and feedback! I hope you like what you see but also appreciate my honesty with the project :D and maybe laugh at my cheesy humor as well...
Step 1: Planning Your Design and Work Area.
As discussed in the introduction I had no dedicated place to work that I could leave my tools out for the next day.(I suspect that I spent 15 hours loading and unloading tools and materials since I was working at the job site out of my Jeep) We are building in a newer subdivision but as anyone who has ever been around construction sites, things have a way of disappearing if you leave them at a job site.
I had a shop that was in the process(Sketchup file attached for my base layout) but the wife would not let me build up my bench work area completely so I didn't have to be on the ground the whole time. So? The ground it was! Believe me that having a dedicated work area is key to the success of any project but you can do this probably a 15' X 15' space (so long as you can turn it over and have room to trim on the ends.) You will be flustered but it can be done.
My rule of thumb is to make the work area twice as large at the product that you are making...I have attached my shop plans but at the time that this was being built I was working on the ground in the area of the Jeep as I had not finished the bench area. Still not done with the bench area but for a different reason.
Lastly you can also find the material and tool list at the back of this instructable so that its easier to view for those interested and you can save some paper printing should you want to if "you got this"!
Step 2: Designing Your Door
Design....Its like making the product without all of the screwups!
To me the as a professional 3D modeler / CAD designer / CAD configuration manager whatever my real title is out at work, the most important part is simple ..."TTT" : Think Things Thru. Also for any constructionproject"Remember to measure twice and cut once"
I would much rather think about this and design it all on the ground or behind a computer when its easier to do before I'm standing on some rickety saw horse holding a 20# 14' 1X6" header in one hand, a drill in the other and fasteners in my mouth all the while balancing like I work at Cirque du Soleil,(Not that that happened on this project or anything ;P )
None the less I have a pretty powerful 3D modeling package at my fingertips at work but I made the following simple views for my wife here at home to let her see different designs and let her ultimately choose the final layer. In the end its about the cuts that you have to make was all....the more cuts? The more risk and time but many times the prettier it can become..... But THANKFULLY she liked one with the simplest features. It is attached and you will notice the overlap. This gave the overall 8'7' height meaning that I had less cuts to make since I left the top to bottom dimensions as full length. Since the ceiling was a 10' ceiling I had plenty of room for the hardware as well.
Also you need to be thinking the hardware. Honestly all of the price competitive kits are coming from China now unless they are in the $300-400 range. In the end the tracks are all about the same as are the wheels. Its the ends that will change slightly but most carry about the same weight. I liked the simple clean lines since I have door hardware in matte black that is similar in shape. I have attached some of the installation drawings above along with the size of the hardware to show you the scale of the hardware you are hanging. plus a lot of my scribbling while I figured out numbers
Step 3: Start Your Build!
Questions, Questions, Questions:
Once you get here and start down this path there are very few corrections that you can make to change the door. You have committed to this project with the look and feel that it will ultimately have.
- Flat or distressed?
- Uniform color?
- Rough finish or smooth?
- How tall, how thick, how wide?
About the last few things that you can change are:
- Fine Tuning the door position
- The stain color
- The intensity of the color
- If you want a shiny or dull finish
Once you make up your mind its really as simple as starting with your bar clamps and glueing and clamping your back planks together and then gluing and t-nailing your flooring together. A rubber mallet come sin handy to beat them closer together before you nail them. You will get in a routine for this and then all of the sudden you have the whole door done in less than an a hour!. I intentionally left them overlap so that I could cut them off square, In total they were about 9'6" long so that I could find the best location to cut them across.
Once that has dried, then attach your face wood(1"X4" Red oak in this case). Think about where you want your supports to hang from if your door is non-traditional looking.
Step 4: Sanding Sanding and More Sanding.....(and Some Distressing)
Before you get to sanding, make sure that you scrape off any excess wood glue that came through the cracks. Woodglue is a pain to sand off if you didn't control it and it won't stain well. It will look like plastic on top of your wood. However a good hand planer or strong putty knife can help to scrape it and give some character to the door if you score a small area with the edge of the blade. If you catch it while its et you can use a wet rag and it will come right off since its water soluble while wet.
Based on your design, it will dictate the amount of sanding that you will want to do. For us, this did not need to be perfect as we wanted it to be a rustic looking build. Just enough to knock down the frayed edges of the lumber. I still tried to keep from smoothing up the face of it becuase i wanted the rough looking mill grooves. This is where the orbital sander came into play to knock off the sharps edges rather quickly else I'd still be sanding!.
Once again, not a lot of pictures to show here. Sand as you see fit.
Step 5: Stain, Paint and Poly!
At this point in time the wife and I starting to see some progress. We can see the finish line by this time because there is a little more to do to the door and then we hang it.....And how hard can hanging the door on some tracks be? (Don't answer that!)
We wanted something that would tie the floor and doors together so we used the same stain as was used on the floor. Starting from the base color of red-oak, it is a very....."Red" wood comparatively to the cedar so they will give different looks but should be pretty close since Cedar is also a red wood. But the Jacobean color is VERY dark so watch how long you leave your stain. You can always add more but cant easily take it off(unless you sand it down). This was literally a wipe on and wipe off the excess tactic.
There is not much to show here since it is one of the easiest things to do so I don't have any mid cycle pictures.
Step 6: Prep the Doors and Hanging Area...
The main thing you have to do at this point is to make sure that when you do hang the header that you have enough room for the hardware, its support is centered and of course most of all its level!. I did the math too many times to count and still thought I messed up until I had the hardware on. In the end it was
You are not required to have an extra header for support. I just wanted a contract and something to disperse the load that these heavy doors were about to put on the track. If I recall right the centerline of my track support to the floor for my 8'-7" tall door was 104 3/4". The paperwork in the kit actually tells you a dimension but lets go back to that 21/23" dimension! I jsut eyeballed it and measured the parts as I opened them.
Once the header was hung, I painted it to match the surrounding area but contrast the black track and then I installed the track as can be seen in the second picture. At this point in time, its just ready to install the hardware on the door and hang it!
Step 7: Hang It and Adjust It...And Adjust It.......And Adjust It....You Will Mess Up Somewhere and Have to Adapt.
So I wish that I could say that I was "Done" with the project. With the doors yes.....but hanging properly? ....no....I think that this is where the "not having a shop" really came back to haunt this whole project since a slight mis-drill caused the misalignment.
I have always heard, "Making one door align up is a piece of cake. but two doors is no small task" And so I lived it out with this project. I've had to tweak and tweak and tweak just to get a little more here or there. If you look at the bottom of the picture above, you will see the door gap. The right side of the door needs to only drop about 1/8". Put that over 8' and that it a lot of distance it causes it to be off(right around 1.5"). My door lumber was super square(I made sure), my track is dead on level. Heck the whole left door is perfectly aligned. It slides well and all that, clears the door track and everything.
The right door? It....is the bane of my existence. I little technical "wallering" here and some there and after 3 hours on 2 different occasions I managed to get another 1/8" closer. I will keep on until I get my shop setup and break down and put a drill press to it I am sure.
There was one location where I had to make it clear over the installed caster wheel. I needed to run a saw across one end of it and then router across the bottom of it to a smooth face...then restain....then set back up....Once I got it clear of the support then it was about straightening it up. Still working on that piece....
Step 8: Don't Worry If You Mess Up....It Happens.
As you know by now, this was not a perfect build....but that's what made it even more personal to the wife and even more appreciated by her as well. She knew it was no small task and she was gracious and is giving me a pass but I will have none of it until they are closer to being flush.
I did make some mistakes. First off I wasn't paying attention and I made the door too thick(2.25" vs the 1.75" door thickness allowed by the track kit) so I had to recess the cap screws after I found out the hard-way(I used the washers to disperse the load over the area because I am an engi-"nerd"). They are stained and out of view due to the track.
I messed up because I drew full-scale and through that they would miss the header.....WRONG! I was probably 6 hours into the hanging of the door that day and couldn't think anymore :D
I wasn't watching my tools when building it and my 1/2" shank flushing bit rattled loose near the end of the door and gave me a good reminder to watch the tool not what it was making.(A router table would have been better though honestly!)
Why do I share these things? To let you know that it can be frustrating but push through the mistakes to the prize...If you mess up? You can always repair it my replacing a face board, "Wallering" out a hole" etc....Just DON'T' give up! Plan the best that you can and then in the end.....just knuckle bust it!
Step 9: Materials and Tool List
One of the motivating factors for this design approach was that I had a large amount of various lengths of randomly sized wood flooring left over from the house(They come this way from the mill/Lowes/Home Depot). I am in no way a "tree hugger" but call it my roots and upbringing but I REALLY hate seeing something that had to die, something that's had man-hours associated with it from fabrication and movement all for it to go to waste in a job site trash pile. So I chose to use the left over 3" redoak flooring as the center piece of the door since it would also match the flooring stain so well. I love to reuse old things and add a little new to give it a new purpose.
After surveying what I had/needed, I went and purchased what I needed for my door materials and had the rest delivered to me via Amazon(since it was also cheaper) but the rest was picked up locally. Here is what I needed
• 10 - 1X8 Cedar Planks ( for the backing)
• 9 - 1X4 Red-oak (For the front design as well as the door hardware supports)
• Est 2 - Bundles of leftover 3" red oak flooring(for the Middle Substrate)
• 3 - 3" red oak flooring (my builder saw what I was doing and donated 3 bundles that had sat at the shop in his way he would deliver to me for free....I guess he figured he was making enough off of me!)
• 1 - 16' 1x6 deck plank (to support my track hardware and space it off of the wall a bit more)
• 1 - Track kit with hanging Hardware of choice - Regardless of the length most of them are all made in the same Chinese Factory
• 2 Cast Iron baseboard mounted wheel kits (to keep it from kicking off track)
• 2 Barn Door Handles - Have yet to install them until the door is true.
No project is complete without tools. I have a rule for my projects that I am (t)asked to do: If I am being (t)asked to do it, I will buy that one tool that will make the job go easier because I would pay someone else this cost or more if I hired them out and she is fine with that as its a Win-Win for us both! Now I'm speaking to the one holding the purse strings on the project.... Let him/her buy that tool needed because it will help them in the future projects and shows that you are investing in them. To the one doing the project: You dont need every new whizbang doodad out there either. Choose them wisely(meaning use this time to that that tool that you have really wanted and needed the excuse to do so) The others will come over time.
From all of my days in the construction world as a young college kid, I am a Dewalt fan personally but many times you are also paying for the name.....by part in large I still feel they use better materials for their tools I am in no way saying that you need these tools because your budget will dictate what you can afford. There are still projects that I pull out the old hand tools(Draw bars, family planers, family chisels because it take me back to those times of true artisonry and artistry. (As an aside as I revisited each section of the instructable, I realized that the list of tools kept growing! and that most of these were shuttled back and forth in the back of my Jeep the whole time....Just do this project when you have room :) )
• 12" Double Bevel Miter Saw(with optional job-site Stand)
• Circular Saw
• Table Saw - anyone that you can control the fence well
• Finishing Blades for your saws(you are working with fine wood working so make the clean cuts!)
• Orbital Sander
• Router Kit - I received my kit years ago as a birthday present. It came with a pistol grip attachment as well that I use more than anything but this kit is much cheaper
• Cordless Drill( I usually look for these sets on Black Friday shopping as the batteries alone cost $100 for 2. You can get a steal on this sort of stuff around Thanksgiving) I still use my 18V XRPs that I have had for almost 15 year now
• Drill Bits and Forstner Bits ( Any drill bit set will work)
• Bench Planer , Block Planer, Various Chisels Kits
• Wrenches and socket sets
• Rubber Mallet or Dead Blow Hammer(Did not use on this project)
• Air Compressor and hoses (mine was pieced together through the years but this is a great deal for all 4 even if it only lasts 3 years)
• T-nailer and 1" nails
• Wood Glue ( Buy the gallon jug also as you will be refilling the smaller bottle for this project)
• 4 @ 36" or 48" Bar Clamps (Irwin , Bessey, Dewalt, Jorgenson, any will do so long as you can apply around 1500psi with them. This was one of my first purchases through the years and I have gotten my money out of them and ended up buying some 24" and 50" versions as well as they get heavy to work with.
• water bucket and hand towel(the glue is water soluble when still wet)
• Adjustable Carpenters Square (I love these as they are modular and can also act as a straight edge since they are an aluminum extrusion
• Ye' old Speed Square (Another must have for any tool belt...most tool belts have a flat triangular pocket for them anyway)
• Toolbelt / Tape Measure / Pencils
• 3" / 3 1/2' Deck Screws
• Paint / Stain / Brushes ( We had leftover paint from the house that we used for the header)
• 8' Ladder
• 4' Ladder
• 4' Level