I wanted to replace my closet doors with something that fits more closely with the furniture I build and the renovations I've been doing on my house. I've always hated bypass doors on closets - they make a closet seem dark and cramped, they're a pain to use, and it always seems that what you want to get to is on the side where the doors currently are - so there's lots of sliding, fumbling, cussing, etc, etc. I wanted some closet doors that were light, airy, and allowed full-access to the whole closet at one time - so I settled on bi-fold doors. Now, I know what you're saying "Bi-fold doors!? Are you kidding?" - to which I'd say, "Read on" - but first some disclaimers:
Because each installation is fairly unique (your closets aren't going to be exactly the same size as mine) I won't be giving a detailed set of plans. I'm assuming (dangerous, I know) that you have some modicum of woodworking skill before tackling a project like this. Although it IS a fairly simple project, it does require some precision.
You do not need to have a shop full of tools to build something like this, however, you will need to make up for whatever tools you lack (like a jointer and planer) with outstanding hand-tool skills, or, a trip to a cabinet shop where they can dimension the lumber for you.
For those who are familiar with traditional Shoji design, construction, and installation, you will see that I used a lot of ... uh... "alternate methods" which work - but aren't exactly "traditional" - I hope the Shoji Gods forgive me :) I recommend Jay Van Arsdale's book "Shoji: How to Design, Build, and Install Japanese Screens" to anyone interested in traditional construction and installation.
Finally, the project cost about $400 total - that's for the wood, shoji paper, finishing materials, and quality hardware - not exactly cheap, but also nowhere near what these would cost if you had them made.
Step 1: What I Started With... Yummy
It all began when I started to renovate my master bedroom. I know, I know - who would want to get rid of these beauties!? Vinyl-covered press-board was all the rage in tract homes in the 70's.....
These doors were pretty beat up and bowed, and they were definitely hard to live with. I salvaged the press-board to make router templates and the aluminum and steel in the frames to keep on hand for reinforcements on other projects. Yes, I'm a packrat.