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Make sliding barn doors using skateboard wheels.

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Picture of Make sliding barn doors using skateboard wheels.
     While building a couple of sheds (okay, glorified yard barns) I 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 I developed a bad case of sticker shock after visiting my local building outlets to check out the cost of hardware I would need for such a project.   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 for the any DIY approach sliding doors turned out to be the wheels/rollers.   I needed something study enough to take abuse, made for exterior use, would roll smoothly, and wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg.   While prowling around in my shop for something like that 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 price shopping on-line, I ordered a set of 4 skateboard wheels and bearings from Newclue Inc. via Amazon.   The total price of the wheels shipped to my door 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.   It’s a three sided channel of heavy gauge galvanized steel.  Unfortunately it didn’t come in 12' lengths, which is what I could have best used, so I had to purchase two ten footers for $30.  To provide a little additional strength I decided to top 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 the rail could be built without it.
     The hangers themselves are fairly simple.   1 ½" 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, it is quite a bit more than simple hinges and a hasp lock, but it is also well under the very cheapest commercial price of $246 for barn door sliders.
     Here is how I fabricated the barn door skateboard rollers.
 
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ggarnier1 year ago
Nice! Should be smooth and really quiet. Any concern about water collecting in the track?
bat159 ggarnier6 months ago

We use this type of rail at work to support electrical conduit. It is also called Uni-Strut and comes in two sizes. Junior uni-strut 7/8" tall, which is what dewey302 is using, and regular, which is approximately 1 3/4" tall. Both of them will last 20+ years in an industrial environment.

dewey302 (author)  ggarnier1 year ago
We live in the Central Valley of CA so rain/water is not something we have to contend with all that much. The C-channel is also very open, allowing for evaporation, so I don't think standing water would be much of an issue even in wet climates. If it is of concern or if it turns out to be a problem in some climates, you could drill a few weep holes in the bottom edge of the channel for the water to escape.
Yeah I was thinking, that cutting the rail?? in two and then to set the angle so that the doors open more easily or close more easily - or are self opening or closing when unlatched... just like the sliding fire doors - that would also drain and help the leaves and dirt and water drain away.... but as the guy before said, use a cover over the lot.
csmith2046 months ago

Are your doors just 2X12's on a sheet of wood with 2X4 framing? This idea looks great. Hopefully replication is as easy as you make it look!

dewey302 (author)  csmith2046 months ago

The doors are made of 1x8 tongue and groove siding material (same material that covers the shed itself - Home Depot or Lowes) screwed onto a 7/16" OSB panel and then trimmed around the edges with 1x4 material nailed in place. However, I would not recommend making your doors this way...at least not in geographic areas of intense heat/sun. Or at the very minimum SCREW the trim pieces in place rather than nailing them. The OSB tends to warp, as does the trim, and over time the trim nails will pop loose in spots. After a year in the direct sun of Central Valley, CA, my trim has begun to separate from the door and I am going to have to rebuild them to remedy the situation. Just haven't gotten around to that project quite yet.

KCSCAMP dewey3026 months ago

I learned from my brother to use 'deck screws' on everything....they don't work loose...
I mean everything...inside and out...

KCSCAMP6 months ago

Exactly what I need!! so many many thanks...
yes, I too had sticker shock when pricing 'real' barn door hardware!!
I want to make a pair for inside...using nicely silvered deck wood that was used on my mom's ramp & deck....good memories when I think of her(not that she is gone)

This will be in a 12' wide older mobile home...I am certain I will be needing to do some extra prep work to be able to safely hang them...
These will be put at the 4' wide arched opening into what used to be a small bedroom...it will usually be open. unless I am lucky enough to have a guest.

damianzuch7 months ago

Ha! I wish I had seen this Instructable! I just attempted a sliding door system but, like you, reeled back in sticker shock when I saw the hardware price. In fact, I gave up on hanging hardware and placed casters under the door instead (

http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a-Big-Metal-Riveted-Sliding-Door-for-the-mad-/) but I had really wanted a hanging door, sooo.... I may go back and revisit the project. Thanks, really great Instructable!

melip7 months ago

Has anyone thought about making this into a "bypass" door with two tracks (similar to a glass shower door)? This would be great for a shed that needs the entire side to be accessible. Any tips?

like the new phrase "sticker shock". FYIthe channel is "uni strut(UK) available indiffrnt sizes and almost certainly cheaper from an electrical supplies wholesaler, also useful brackets etc etc tosuitl hope this is helpful. WWW
karmagurl10 months ago
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.....
essstar11 months ago
Thanks for the tutorial. I'm attempting to build a very similar setup for my tool shed. I will post pics once it's done.
ledshed11 months ago
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.
velorna1 year ago
I so love this!!!! I was trying to figure this out for shelving I made in my kitchen.... This wouldn't have worked for it because my shelf wasn't strong enough to Handel your materials... But you have my wheels turning again and I want sliding doors for my future pantry and other rooms.I love love love
Excellent and ingenious work! I have skateboard wheels set aside for a similar project, but hadn't thought of the security of having the bracket behind the rails. Thanks for sharing!
XboxModz1 year ago
I was wondering something. Would this project work with the hardware and doors mounted on the inside of the barn instead of the outside? I think that would look much cleaner.
dewey302 (author)  XboxModz1 year ago
I think it would work. But keep in mind that all the wall space the doors will take up is space you can't use for benches, shelving or hanging stuff from the walls. So it would come down to personal taste and how you might want to utilize the insides of your shed/barn/building.
or make the doors slide between an inner and outer wall. i.e. it is 3 layers - outer wall, door, inner wall. the walls don't have to be thick. marine ply.
Tinworm1 year ago
I don't understand the need for the Superstrut. Surely, all you need is the angle iron? What am I missing?
dewey302 (author)  Tinworm1 year ago
I built the rollers and hung the doors first just using the angle iron and it deflected quite noticeably under the weight of the door. I then tried the superstrut and it did not deflect.
Ah, I see. Well that makes sense. Had similar problems myself. But worth mentioning on your instructable that you don't need a superstrut, as such....but just a length of anything that does not deflect.

I really like your sliding doors concept.
ccwenk1 year ago
In the end, it looks like you could eliminate the superstrut and just use the angle... Definitely wouldn't be any issue of length availability then.
dewey302 (author)  ccwenk1 year ago
As I have mentioned to some other posters, the angle iron alone did not work. I tried it and it deflected quite noticeably. I was of the same opinion as you at first...convinced that the angle iron would be the best alternative. It just didn't prove to be the case.
DoDo7291 year ago
This is a brilliant idea, and for me just in time as I am going to be making a storage enclosure and this will work way better than what I had in mind. Very timely. Thank you for posting this. Love it.
studleylee1 year ago
VERY NICE!
melic79, you can buy Uni-strut at your favorite big box supply or local hardware store.
melic791 year ago
I want something like this, for the door that lead to the dinning room, but where did you buy the rails that you used?
coreylane1 year ago
This is an awesome tutorial. Rather than hanging against a barn, I wanted to build a trellis over my backyard fence and use the sliding barn doors as an entrance/exit. This track will definitely work (and save a ton of money!), but I can't figure out a way to make it lock. It would need to unlock/lock from both the inside and outside. Any thoughts?
lalunette1 year ago
Very nice! Definitely something i will keep in mind.

I did something similar with pocket door hardware from a 1920s house we remodeled.

The hardware is hidden under an overhang that has the added benefit of keeping it out of the elements.

Cheers !!
Nice! I only need a barn now!
oscartxn1 year ago
Job well done, thank you for sharing this awesome instructable. I have been looking for something like this for many months and could not get over the cost of the hardware.
Nice! I have to keep this idea filed away...we live in snow and ice country tho...I'm thinking flashing of some kind to cover the rail would be a good addition for our climate. Thanks for sharing!
Awesome job!
Just a couple of aesthetic tips:
Rotate the door guides on the ground so that the screws are under the door when open.
Add a piece of wood inside the c-channel to minimize the appearance and distraction of it — OR — make a valence over it.
I do have a question though: how are the doors removed so that maintenance like staining or waterseal can easily be applied? Or must we dismantle the track?
dewey302 (author)  LaserGunSev1 year ago
The easiest way to get the door off is to remove the four bolts which hold it to the hanger.
Gee-Whiz1 year ago
Just one question, how do the wheels stay ON the track (other than the bent metal which pushes the doors back against the wall surface)? I don't see anything keeping them on top...
dewey302 (author)  Gee-Whiz1 year ago
If you look back at the photos you will see that the hanger which holds each wheel axle is U-shaped and it extends down over both the front and the back of the rail and then continues on down and is bolted to the front and the back of the door. The distance between the front and back side of the hanger is the width of the wheel plus a washer or two (1/8" or so). If the wheel should not run true and begin to move to one side or the other of the track, the hanger will make contact with the track and the wheel will continue to roll straight. Hope his makes sense. If not, I might be able to find a photo (or go out and take a photo) to show the hangers a little better.
dewey302 (author)  dewey3021 year ago
Take a look at the third photo in step 5. The back side of the hanger, which you can't totally see, matches the front side exactly. It extends down the back side of the rail and then on down to the back side of the door. It is this hanger which keeps the wheel centered on the rail.
Please add a pic showing this, we're having trouble seeing it.
dewey302 (author)  Tex Arcana1 year ago
Couldn't get a photo showing exactly what you want...so I did this quickie drawing. This would be looking at the door, hanger, wheel and rail in profile. Hope it explains things.
profile.jpg
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