Introduction: How to Make a Barn Door - Double Sided

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This video details how to build a barn door using tongue and groove. These doors are double sided and can be used in an entryway or window that is exposed on both sides (unlike a closet or pantry). With the right tools, these doors are easy and inexpensive to make.

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Step 1: Mill and Prepare Your Lumber

For these barn doors I’ll be using rough cut poplar. I like milling my own lumber for projects like these because the rough cut material is cheaper and I can customize the dimensions to fit my needs. If you don’t have the tools to mill your own lumber then most lumber yards will sell pre-milled lumber for a slightly higher cost.

I milled the horizontal frame pieces, also referred to as rails, to 4 1/4” wide and 1 1/2” Thick. The vertical frame pieces, also referred to as stiles, were milled to the same thickness but were cut at 3 1/2” Wide. The length of these pieces will be customized to the size of the doorway or window that the door will be covering.

Step 2: Cut Dados for the Center Panel

Over at the table saw I installed my dado stack to cut a dado an eighth of an inch less than the thickness of the boards that ill be using for the center panel. I set the fence to cut a dado at the center of the thickness of the rails and stiles. The cut only needs to be close to center and does not have to be exact.

Using a test piece the same thickness as my rails and stiles I cat a dado to check my fence setting. Once I made the first cut, I flipped the board around and ran it through again with the opposite face against the fence. This should slightly increase the width of the dado as well as insure that it is dead center of the board. I then used the test piece to check if the dado was wide enough for the boards used for the center panel and made adjustments to my fence as needed. This fit should be slightly loose.

The first test run was too tight so I made a slight adjustment to my table saw fence further from the blade. Remember when making these adjustments there will be two cuts made on the thickness so it’s important to make very slight adjustments with each test cut. After getting a good fit, I began cutting dados in each of the rails and stiles making quarter inch incremental cuts until reaching a final dado depth of one inch.

Step 3: Cut the Tennons

After the dados were cut, I set up my table saw to cut the tennons on the rails. For this cut I did not move the table saw fence after cutting the dados but I adjusted the blade height to slightly under the edge of the dado. Using my miter gauge I made the cuts for the tennons on the rails. I tested the fit after each set of cuts and made slight adjustments to the blade hight until I had a tight fit in the dados on the stiles.

Step 4: Dry Fit the Door

Once all the cuts were finished on the table saw I did a dry assembly of the frame. This dry fit ensured that not only all the pieces fit correctly but also allowed me to get the measurements for the center panel. Don’t forget to add the one inch makeup created by the dados, to the length and width of the center panel measurements.

While the frame was assembled I placed a board at a diagonal angel on the back side and clamped it in place. Next I used a pencil to mark these angels for later.

Step 5: Cut the Tongue and Groove Boards for the Center Panel

Over at the miter saw I cut the tongue and grove boards, for the center panel, to length. Next I assembled the panel and used a clamp to pull the boards together tight and get a measurement for the width. With the standard width of these tongue and grove boards the panel was approximately 3" too wide. I removed the two outside boards and cut an inch and a half off of each outside edge at the table saw. Cutting off of each edge will keep the panel groves centered between the door frames once it’s assembled.

Step 6: Install Center Panel and Glue Tongue and Grooves

Leaving the bottom rail in place and clamped I removed the top rail and slide the center panel in to place. Using wood glue on the tennons I placed the top rail back in place and clamped it. Then I laid the door flat on the ground and loosened the clamp holding the bottom rail. I removed the rail, added wood glue to the Tennons, then tapped it back in place, and tightened the clamp.

Step 7: Pin the Tennons

Back at the miter saw I cut 3/8" dowels to pin the tennons. Using masking tape I marked a stopping point on a 3/8” drill bit to drill a hole approximately 3/4 of the thickness of the door frame. I drilled two holes on each of the four joints and drove the dowels in using wood glue. Not drilling the holes all the way through the frame prevents any worries about blowing the holes out when driving the dowels in and this depth works fine for pinning the tennons.

Step 8: Cut and Install Decretive Stretchers

I cut the boards for the decorative stretchers at the angle marked from earlier. The depth from the outside of the frame to the center panel was just over 1/4” on these doors. Since I had 3/4” thick boards I saved material by marking half the thickness on the board and re-sawing them on my bandsaw. I brought them to final thickness on the planer and used brad nails and glue to attach them to the doors. I placed one on each side of the door so that the door would identical from both sides.

Step 9: Sand and Finish

I sanded the doors from 80 grit to 180 grit and hand sanded the hard to get areas with a sanding sponge. Using a little wood glue in the nail holes just before sanding will act as a wood filler. Now that your doors are complete you can paint or stain them to finish!

For more details you can watch the full build video here:

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