Introduction: Make Sliding Barn Doors Using Skateboard Wheels

I built a couple of wooden sheds (okay, glorified yard barns) and wanted to equip one of them with sliding type barn doors. I like the look of sliding doors and they are very practical for a shed, allowing a much wider access opening than a normal door. But after visiting my local building outlets to check out the cost of the track and installation kit hardware I would need for such a project I developed a bad case of sticker shock. The cheapest place I could find was Tractor Supply, and even there the price for just the barn door hardware (not the doors themselves) ran from $246 to $326, depending on how fancy I wanted it to look.

So I began to snoop around for some sort of alternative I could fabricate myself. And the biggest obstacle to any DIY sliding doors turned out to be the wheels/rollers. I needed something that was made for exterior use, would roll smoothly, and that was heavy duty enough to take abuse while not costing an arm and a leg. While prowling around in my shop for something that fit the bill I happened to stumble on my son’s old skateboard. And the wheels looked like a perfect candidate for the job.

After a few minutes of price shopping online I ordered a set of four skateboard wheels and bearings from Newclue Inc. via Amazon. The total price of the wheels with shipping was $17.35.

Next I needed a rail for the wheels to glide on. I found the solution in the electrical department at Home Depot. It’s called Superstrut, and a 10' length sells for $15. Superstrut is a three-sided channel of heavy gauge galvanized steel. Unfortunately it didn’t come in 12' lengths, which is what I would have preferred to use, so I had to purchase two ten-footers for $30. To provide a little additional strength I topped off the Superstrut with two 6-foot lengths of 1x1 angle iron at a cost of $26. I doubt this extra precaution was necessary and think the rail could be built without it.

The hangers themselves are fairly simple. 1½" x 1/8" flat stock steel was bent into a U shape and then drilled to accommodate the axles for the wheels/rollers. I bought two 4' lengths of the flat stock from Orchard Supply for a total of $18. The other miscellaneous nuts and bolts I used came to $3.

My finished sliding barn door hardware cost a grand total of $95. Yes, this is quite a bit more than simple hinges and a hasp lock, but it is also well under the cost of the very cheapest commercial price for barn door sliders of $246.

Here is how I fabricated the barn door skateboard rollers.

Step 1: The Rollers/wheels

These photos show the skateboard wheels and bearings as they arrived from Newclue. The wheels are 1 9/64" wide and 2" tall.

Step 2: Shaping the Hangers

Cut two 4' lengths of 1 ½" flat stock in half yielding a total of 4 sections at 24" each. Each section is then bent in half around a piece of 1" metal pipe. To do this, lay the flat stock on a solid bench or table and then lay the pipe over the flat stock at right angles. Clamp the pipe to the work bench.

Grasp each end of the flat stock and pull upwards. It will bend relatively easily. Use a hammer to coax the bend down near the pipe. You want to end up with a fairly tight bend and space of about 1 1/4" between the two sides of your hanger.

Place a wheel in position to insure the width of your bend will allow free movement of the wheel and make a mark at the center of the flat stock where the axle will be.

Step 3: Mounting the Wheels in the Hangers

Cut a piece of 2x6 lumber 1 1/4" long and place it between the two sides of the hanger for support. Drill a pilot hole through the top and then the bottom of the flat stock where you made your mark. I used a drill press to do this but if you are very careful to keep things vertical you can use a hand drill. With the hanger still clamped in place, switch to a 5/16" bit and drill the final mounting holes for the axle. Most skateboard axles are universal, but measure the diameter of your bearings to insure a 5/16" bolt will fit snugly. The exact position of the axle hole from the top of the hanger does not need to be precise as long as your wheel is down far enough so that it will turn freely.

Washers will need to be placed on each side of the wheel bearing so that the axle bolt can be tightened but the sides of the hanger will not come in contact with the rubber wheel. You will also need to keep in mind the thickness of your door. You may need to experiment with different numbers of washers to get it just right.

Drill two door mounting holes near the other end of the hanger. The exact placement of these holes will vary a bit depending the door you are building/using. Just make sure the holes will be placed in a solid area of the door.

The rollers/hangers are then painted and reassembled.

Step 4: The Parts for Hanging the Rail

The first photo shows what the Superstrut rail looks like. For a six foot door opening like mine, the Superstrut is cut into two six foot lengths for a total rail length of 12'.

The rail is mounted to the building using four 3" lag bolts, 12 steel washers (some nylon washers are shown in the photo but use all steel washers) and four 11/16th" nuts. These nuts slip over the lag bolts and are used only as spacers.

Not shown are the two 6 foot lengths of 1x1 angle iron which are laid on top of the Superstrut.

Step 5: Hanging the Rail

To hang the railing, first place a temporary spacer about ½" thick under your door opening. Set your door on top of this spacer and mark the height of the top edge of your door (I have not covered the door or door construction in this Instructable). Make a second mark ½" above this first mark. With a carpenter’s level, use this upper marker to draw a line extending 6' to either side of the center of the door opening. The line should be 12 feet long total. If you are making your door wider or more narrow than the 6' door opening width used for this building, adjust you rail accordingly.

Set the angle iron on top of the Superstrut and mark the angle iron in the center of the hole in the Superstrut. Drill a 3/8" hole through the angle iron. Then with an assistant holding the Superstrut in place just above the line you drew earlier, mark and drill holes in the building for the lag screws. If there is no stud directly behind this hole, you will need to cut and nail a 2x4 support between the existing studs directly behind the hole. The lag screw needs a very solid base for mounting. Then assemble the Superstrut and angle iron and screw them to the wall as shown in the photo.

Set the right hand door in the door opening and temporarily clamp it or have someone hold it in place so that it is centered in the door opening. Slip two roller/hangers over the Superstrut railing and position them near the left and right sides of the door making sure they are positioned at a very solid portion of the door. Mark and drill 1/4" holes through the door to match the two bottom holes of each hanger. Then attach the door to the hangers using 1/4" bolts and nuts.

Slide the door to the end of the Superstrut to ensure it does not bind at any point. Repeat the mounting procedure for the left side door. You will note that the outer most lag bolt will act as a stop, preventing the wheels from ever running off the end of the rail.

Step 6: Installing a Bottom Deflector

To keep the door vertical while it is being opened and to prevent the wind from ever blowing it outward, install a section of galvanized or aluminum angle iron at the bottom of the door (see arrow) using concrete screws to fasten it to the surface.

Step 7: The Completed Sliders

The finished skateboard barn door sliders.

Comments

author
Pa1963 (author)2016-02-25

Using the narrower wheels might allow you to turn the channel so that the open part faces up, then you could use the groove for the wheels to ride in.

author
jaymaker (author)Pa19632016-02-28

I was thinking a groove for them to ride in would be great too! To me, it seems if you bumped maybe one of the doors from inside--especially the one without bottom metal piece--it could pop off top track and fall.

author
dewey302 (author)jaymaker2016-02-28

Please note the photos in step three showing the "U" shaped bracket which hold the wheel and the door in place. This bracket straddles the the rail (wheel on top, door on bottom, rail between so that it is impossible for the wheel to be pushed, shoved, whacked or in any other why accidentally moved off the rail. In the photos of the finished door you are only seeing that part of the bracket which is on the outside, but the bracket is exactly the same on the inside. If the wheel moves outward the back side of the bracket contacts the rail, if the wheel moves inward the front side of the bracket contacts the rail. The wheel can not come off the rail EXCEPT by gliding off the left or right end of the rail, and that is prevented by bolt which stops the wheel if it gets too close to the end of the rail.

author
rokkripprapp (author)dewey3022016-02-29

Why do you need the rail at all? Wouldn't this work with just the angle iron?

author
dewey302 (author)rokkripprapp2016-02-29

I found that angle iron alone flexed too much...wasn't quite strong enough.

author
sgbotsford (author)dewey3022017-03-19

If you don't have access to the rail, you can lengthen the hangers, and bolt what you do have to a timber to stiffen it.

author
jaymaker (author)dewey3022016-02-28

Ahh, I see now what I missed. Thank you for the explanation! I do like the design very much.

author
sgbotsford (author)Pa19632017-03-19

You don't want a groove. It fills up with crud. You never dust something like that.

author
mid_life_crisis (author)2017-03-14

I have one question. Are those actually roller blade wheels? Skateboard wheels don't generally have rounded edges.

author
dewey302 (author)mid_life_crisis2017-03-14

You might be right mid-life-crisis. I looked back at my original (2012) order from New Clue and they listed the wheels as "50mm Black Skateboard Wheels and Bearings Set - item #280722030363". So that is why I referred to them as skateboard wheels. I guess the bottom line is, if you are looking for a set of wheels, include skateboard wheels in your search.

author
ByronB2 (author)2016-03-10

I'd have made pocket doors personally (eliminate the 'toe-stub' angle iron outside the doors)

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Chamca (author)ByronB22016-03-31

Im sure those will look great on whatever you build. Personally, I was looking for a barn door tutorial, and this is a great one!

author
dewey302 (author)2016-02-26

Sorry for not responding to these recent comments more quickly but I was out of town the last two days and did not know the barn doors had been featured again. First, thank you all for the many kind comments and suggestions for improvements etc. That's the whole idea of instructables...do it yourself and then watch somebody do it even better. Let me also respond here to the major question which was posed regarding the wisdom of using skateboard wheels, particularly in regards to their durability. As a couple of writers have noted, this Instructable was originally posted in July of 2013. The doors were actually completed and have been in operation since August of 2012. So the skateboard wheels and bearings have about 3 1/2 years of wear and tear and they look and slide like day one. I would guess my doors weigh about 50 lbs each, are rolled 2-3 times a week, and the doors face directly south in the middle of the central valley of California so they get some very intense UV rays. The wheels and bearings are unphased and show no signs of "flats", chips or degradation. The only problem I've had with the doors is a bit of warpage of the wood, so I don't intend to recommend the actual door construction techniques that I used until I have eliminated those issues. But the wheels and sliding hardware have operated flawlessly.

author
kinneil (author)dewey3022016-03-09

my experience with large Timber doors is best to do a steel frame and then clad with Timber , I've made a arch stable door with 100 year old iron bark Timber (from train bridge) and it still moved

author
greenwoodcreations (author)2016-03-08

I love it! excellent work on making what you need as you can afford it. Project is concise and well written, the only change I made when I did a project like this is I used the skate board wheels to guide the door bottoms too. The angle iron in my area fills up with dirt and ice and wont let the doors move. An upright wheel on its side just allows the door to easily move.

author
ledshed (author)2013-10-02

Nice. I've done something similar using the 'C' hooking onto a the same bar attached to the door. No wheels so needs to be kept clean and greased.

author
Beemoney (author)ledshed2016-03-06

Ledshed could you imagine...
Doing a test to figure out how many neodymium magnets it would take to repulse the two c-tracts just enough so it would appear to be a 'floating& frictionless groove'. Wholey Moley... I 'll let you know how it does? Star Trek's not far. And plausible.

author
karmagurl (author)2013-10-26

if anyone has adapted this plan to closet doors-- specifically, shoji screen doors, could you please post? it's exactly what I have in mind, but I'm not savvy enough to figure it out.....

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Beemoney (author)karmagurl2016-03-06

Hey There 'Karmagurl' did you ever get the'shoji' doors up. It has been 2 years. I 'm curious.peace.Godbless

author
bruce.desertrat (author)2016-02-25

Why not get metal ones....problem solved.

author
Beemoney (author)bruce.desertrat2016-03-06

@wkearney@b.d.rat -I believe kearney could show his need to be a part by actually doing the MATH(compression set test?) by simply asking for 'what the weight of said door is' and weight /'wheel composition'. We could write a thesis on the issue, too. Or, like Bruce. Solve it fast. Buy steal....
Except the instructable chose his kids skateboard wheels for inspiration. NOT BOUGHT STEAL.
Have you lost the theme of such an adventerous thread. Show some positive support and throw in a suggestion or two, that doesn't fray,toO far, from the sharer(s) actual 'carpè diem'. Because that's what it's all about sharing our own thoughts discovery(s) and the solutions DURING A SPECIFIC MOMENT.
START your own instuctable as a shout-out and newer concept. I 'll tell YOU some of these comments have the mindset of a ____ . Wholey Moley. Who's the scold now?
Peace&Godbless

author
Old Coot Papa (author)2016-02-26

Excellent Instructable! We are thinking of selling our house and building a smaller one. We want to use a sliding door for our new bedroom. This will be perfect, and I'll only need 1 section of the Super Strut. I was kicking myself because I tore down an old shed and didn't save the sliding door hardware, this will be perfect! Thanks for this instructable!

author
Beemoney (author)Old Coot Papa2016-03-06

Dewey302 Old Coot PAPA knows his stuff? I saw it too. And, right away. This is a perfect low-cost option for an indoor pocket... The hangers you made are brilliant in so many ways. They could be 'primped-up'or down to match any era's decorative scheme,or just painted over for a clean looking wall and not a door. So, MANY PEOPLE IN TITE, Tiny apartments or highrises benefit with FOUND SPACE THAT THE DOORS 'circumference allotment, or 'dead-space'. AND, I did a little tweaking to this idea because the hangers and wheels,for a similar PRO MFG. Set are $25O+ for cheaper hardware? and that's for the smallest door SO, I GOT CREATIVE AND BLEW THE DAY. Because of your hinges. I now have a secret passageway from my dining room to my office. Flanked, on both sides of the dining room wall common to the office. Were to matching book case/sideboardish units. I mounted a slider using your idea behind one of the book case units that had a closet handy on the otherside of the wall(in the office. Once I had my opening and slider hung I bolted the bookcase to the slider. This made a retention plate, (spaced from the wall)mandatory to allow the door to stay from pushing into the wall making it hard to move. painted the stud groove to match an extended pce of crown moulding from unit to unit so you cannot tell its a track ? unless your pretty good.
I took my time and cut the entire perimeter of the adjacent wall inside the clost. I 'glued&screwed' the entire piece to some cheap plywood and with three old hinges mounted it back in the closet. I used a piece of thick styrofoam, protruding slightly more than what's called for and this keeps the opening(secret doorway)snug and unnoticeable to the eye. I've told nobody and BOY THEY'RE SCRATCHIN'THEIR HEADS. BUT, NOBODY'S caught on yet. thx for the AWESOME ideas keep'em comin'Dewey.Peace. Godbless

bmoneyNOTburden

author
DIY-Guy (author)2016-02-27

Thanks for writing about this method.
I am very inspired to add this style of sliding doors to my shed.
I wonder from a security standpoint though, can the doors be lifted up and removed from the tracks? Or pulled down, or past the ends of the track, or something that would allow a burglar to swing them up, down, out, or sideways to remove the doors?

Any help in understanding this better, before I build it, sure would be nice!
Thanks :)

author
dewey302 (author)DIY-Guy2016-02-28

The only way to remove the door is to unbolt the wheel bracket from the door. Note the construction of the wheel brackets as shown in step 3. the "strap" of the bracket is bolted to each side of the door and is looped over the rail holding the wheel in place on top of the rail. The door CAN be lifted upward a fraction of an inch but it can not be moved off the rail because the bracket wraps entirely around the rail. The door can be glided off one or the other end of the rail, but this too is prevented by placing a bolt or a stop which prevents the door from accidentally gliding right off the end of the rail. With enough work (and the right tools) a burglar could get in, just as a burglar can get in any house given the right tools and enough time.

author
jaymaker (author)2016-02-28

Great project! Thanks for posting. I want to make a garden gate or two with barn/slider doors, so this will help.

author
RandyJ17 (author)2016-02-25

I built a single sliding door on my wood shed and cut a section off the end. @ 3'wide x 6' high framed and hinged it back onto the slider. Now i can use hinged door daily or slide whole door open to park my ATV,LOGSPLITTER ECT.
PS YOU WILL NEED TO USE A TURN BUCKLE ON DOOR FOR STABILITY AND SQUARENESS

author
jaymaker (author)RandyJ172016-02-28

Good idea on the hinged option!

author
essstar (author)2015-04-26

Did this project two summers ago. Thanks again for the awesome and cost-effective solution.

photo-2015-04-26, 14:20.jpgphoto-2015-04-26, 14:20.jpgphoto-2015-04-26, 14:20.jpg
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albertogomc (author)essstar2016-02-26

It looks great!

author
bturnip made it! (author)2016-02-25

This is from almost a year ago, but I still think this was a great instructable. Good job, thanks for posting.

IMAG0064.jpg
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canewkirk (author)bturnip2016-02-25

I think I'm going to try this with one very minor modification. I'll flip the channel with the U facing up and run the wheels inside the channel. If I need to put the wheels on the lathe for width correction, that's no problem. Great idea, thanks for the post.

author
Kevanf1 (author)canewkirk2016-02-26

The upward facing U does also have the potential to catch any stray bits of leaf and other detritus though :( Which might cause the wheels to lock up... So that's where a top pelmet might be handy :)

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bturnip (author)canewkirk2016-02-25

That might be a good idea, the upward facing U might act as a guide.

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dollarseed (author)2016-02-25

I looked at something very similar. One problem I have with sliding doors, is that they are hard to lock so both doors can't be slid out of the way at the same time to allow ingress. I chose to build my doors using 4 panels. Each side makes up two panels. On panel is 1/3 the width, the other is 2/3 the width. The 2/3 door was divided in half and received a swivel pin. When the door is open, only 1/2 the width of the 2/3 section comes inside, which alleviates the need to shovel to open the doors in the winter, but don't detract from the space in my shop by much at all. I use a center gate lock to lock them together, and it works great. One major advantage, is if you have to use a hasp to lock the doors, they are hinged on each end, and in the middles, and cannot be opened. Just my take, but I love your idea, and thanks for sharing. Most people look at the hardware, much like you and I did, and decide, we can do better cheaper.

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RandyJ17 (author)dollarseed2016-02-25

A hasp & lock can be used on the inside of one door and another lock on the outside to lock doors together.

author
dollarseed (author)RandyJ172016-02-26

True, but you still need to prevent the bottom of the doors from being pulled out to keep people and animals out.

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Kevanf1 (author)dollarseed2016-02-26

Isn't that what the piece of angle does that it fastened to the floor? I like this Instructable. I already have a shed with sliding doors. The doors and the runners are absolutle rubbish and stick and jam really badly. They've been like this since I bought and built the thing so I have tried to 'improve' on the system. This would be a far superior way of doing it so, thank you :)

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EduardoR34 (author)2016-02-26

Man, really really cool! I have my house made using this kind of wood. Thanks for sharing. It is beatyfull!

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fred.fanackerpan.3 (author)2016-02-26

when it comes to protecting the skateboard wheels from the sunlight can you not just make an open ended pelmet to cover the track and the wheels it would also protect the bearings from the elements to.

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Ralphxyz (author)2016-02-25

I do not think a 70# door would deform the wheels especially if they were rolled daily.

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Craftinista (author)2016-02-25

thanks! I'm wanting to hang shutters in the same fashion and this will work great!!!

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Minyah (author)2016-02-25

You sure do a good clean job mate... I do admire your barn. Thanks for the idea

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canewkirk (author)2016-02-25

As the father of my group, I quickly figured out that they make sealed bearings, so the rain was not a problem. the UV never had a chance to weaken the wheel structure, because the kids wore them out from doing ramp tricks long before the sunshine made a difference. The kids were not always hard on their equipment, but they were boys. They turned out all right, one of them is a marketing executive with a big national retailer, the middle one is a U-2 pilot for the US Air Force and the young one is seen every year on ESPN at a certain tournament. So they did OK.

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flyingpuppy (author)2016-02-25

Love love love this "barn door." My question is--why do you have the lower guide only on one side of the door?

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tantris (author)2016-02-25

Nice. - Skate board wheels would be relatively quiet and smooth.
"This Old House" did it a while ago, and they used lawn mower idler wheels.
Looking around at the home center, I came up with garage door pulley wheels. Not the door rollers, but the pulley wheels, used for running a cable over it. (Extension spring door, not torsion spring) You can get strong pulleys with bearing for around $5 and under. (Have a look at ebay for "Garage door sheave pulley"or "extension spring pulley")

author
beckt (author)2016-02-25

I really don't think the bearing will be a problem, they are for a skateboard right? Can't get much more of a hostile environment than that. And if the urethane starts to fail, you switch the wheels out...not a big deal.

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wkearney99 (author)beckt2016-02-25

A skateboard is being regularly used. Not hanging in one place with weight pressing down constantly on one place, over and over. That and a skateboard isn't sitting in the same position in the sun all day long. That and even if you run through a puddle the bearings aren't going to be left sitting in the same fixed position, soaked in water.

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zekeallmon (author)wkearney992016-02-25

Wkearney is right. I'm thinking caster wheels designed to support 200 lbs would work. You should be able to find these at your local big box store for under $20/4 . Look for fixed wheel, not swivel.

I also like the idea. I'm thinking rather than using two materials for the top (straight gate and angle iron) just steel box tubing would work. Not positive but priced a 1 1/4 * 1 1/4 x 84" piece on amazing prime for $35 each.

author
Mark 42 (author)zekeallmon2016-02-25

Those caster wheels are probably urethane, unless they are metal.
Yes, hypothetically urethane wheels "Might" have some issues, like developing a flat spot - but I seriously doubt that they will. Even if they did, it wouldn't be enough to really matter.

I certainly wouldn't worry about exposure to the elements enough to try to cover them or put them on the inside (unless it was easy to do and no downsides).

Urethane is amazingly tough and weather resistant.
You can buy skateboard wheels on eBay for dirt cheap.

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