Introduction: Barn Doors Using Scooter Wheels - CHEAP!
We built a large spray booth for spraying stucco on to some of our products, and to help keep the rest of the shop clean. We realized that we needed to add some large doors to the front and it seemed like the barn door approach was the way to go here, as it keeps the actual "foot print" a lot more compact than doors on hinges. YaY!
Building the doors wasn't a problem, but when it came to the actual barn door hardware, that was a different story! I could not find anything that would work in a price range that wouldn't break the bank. So, after a bit of head scratching, this is what I came up with. You can use this design on just about any kind, or size of door, not just what I did here.
After looking at countless google images of what commercially available barn door hardware looks like, and how they seemed to work, the first step was to figure out what to use for a "wheel" and then, the track that it would ride in. I jumped on Amazon and started looking at skateboard, roller skate, roller blade and scooter wheels. I figured, these wheels all held up to a humans weight and abuse, and had built in bearings. I was amazed at the selection and settled on some cheap ($9.00 for 2!!!) scooter wheels. I quickly ordered a pair so I could measure them and try to figure out a track that they could ride on.
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Step 1: Awesome and CHEAP Wheels
After receiving the wheels, I was pleasantly surprised at how nice they, and the included bearings and spacers were for a measly 9 bucks... FOR TWO! I used a micrometer to measure the thickness of the wheel and found that it was just UNDER an inch.
Step 2: Getting on the Right Track...
Looking through a local aluminum distributor's catalog, I found a 1.25" x 1.25" C channel aluminum extrusion (20 feet long) that had .125" walls, meaning the inside of the channel would be 1" wide, just a bit wider than my scooter wheel. Also, the two vertical walls would prevent the wheel from ever "jumping the track". I thought all this would work just great... until I started rolling the wheel up and down the channel and noticed that if the side of the wheel hit the inside wall of the channel, it seemed to bind. Looking at it closer, I noticed that the front edge of the wheel was hitting the wall at the same time the back edge was, so this created a binding in the motion... NOT COOL!!! I needed to figure out a way to keep the wheel in the center of the channel so that the wheel never hit the edges.
Step 3: Round Bar to the Rescue!!!
After a close encounter with defeat, I decided to add two 20 foot lengths of 3/8" diameter aluminum round bar to the bottom inside edges of the C channel. This seemed to "force" the wheel to stay in the center of the track as the wheel tapered to a very narrow profile toward its outside edge. Once I pinched the wheel between my thumb and fore finger and rolled the wheel up and down the track, I was very happy with the difference in "feel". I went ahead and epoxied the round bar to the inside corners of the C channel to keep it in place. It was quite simple by applying the epoxy to the inside corners and using spring clamps to hold the round bar in place until the epoxy cured (about 20 min.). I ordered all these pieces from the aluminum distributor and the best part... I was only about $40.00 deep for the whole 20 foot track!!!
Step 4: Off to the Drawing Board...
Now that I felt the wheels and track were going to work, I decided to draw up a bracket design on my Mac using Adobe Illustrator. After referring to a S$#% pile of google images for inspiration, I started on an initial design and drew everything to actual size to make sure things meshed up correctly. I use McMaster Carr for a lot of my hardware because they also provide cad drawings for almost everything they sell... FOR FREE! These drawings are available in several formats, including PDF, which Illustrator can open. This allows you to use their drawings in your design at the correct size so you can check things out before purchasing anything. So after MANY iterations on the design, this was the final result. Doing everything to size also has an added bonus of being able to use the shapes from the drawings, for actual manufacturing...
Step 5: Let's Cut Some Brackets
I grabbed the 4 pieces from my drawing that make up the 2 brackets and had them cut out of 1/4" aluminum using a CNC router. I know... 1/4" aluminum may have been a bit overkill, but is was available at the time. I'm sure you could use thinner metal, or maybe even some other material. As long as it can do the job safely.
The important area of these components are the two pieces in the center of the above drawing (the back bracket), and the upper portions of the left and right components (the front bracket). This is where the actual wheel is attached. The bottoms were designed to fit the particular door frames in this project and can easily be changed to fit what ever doors you are working with. If you don't have a CNC router, don't worry. There are probably many places in your area or on-line where you can have your pieces cut at a very reasonable cost. If that doesn't work for you, you can simply cut all the parts as rectangles with a band or jig saw and metal blade. Just make sure your holes for the wheels and supports line up and things should work just fine. I just wanted them to look a bit fancier because, well... I'm a geek.
Step 6: All the Parts Ready to Go...
After a couple of days waiting for parts, everything for one door is ready for assembly. I wanted to check one complete setup to make sure things were going to work before going too much further. I want to reiterate that drawing everything to size and using the free downloadable parts drawings for the nuts and bolts from McMaster Carr will save you a lot of time and hair. Check everything on paper (or computer screen) first. If you are well versed in a 3D cad program (which I am not), this process will be easy for you, but if not, you can still do this in a 2D program like Illustrator or Corel Draw if you make at least a side and front view of your drawing to actual size or scale.
Step 7: Assembly 1
The holes on the two back brackets have been countersunk on one side to accept the flathead screws. The black screw (axle) is an M8 size so that it properly fits in the scooter wheel bearings inner diameter (8 millimeter). An 1/8" spacer keeps the wheel away from the back bracket. The other two screws are 5/16" screws. I am using the two nuts as adjustable spacers between the front and back bracket pieces. You will see why this was done in step 9...
Step 8: Assembly 2
I sat the wheels on their axles and added a 3/8" spacer to separate the wheel from the front bracket plate.
Step 9: Assembly 3
Front bracket attached. Since the wheel had an odd width, I wasn't able to find a spacer that would match the 1/8" spacer plus the 3/8" spacer, plus the wheel, so I used nuts to tighten the plates together with the proper spacing. This actually made for a very rigid setup. After the hardware was tightened up, the wheels spun really nice and freely on their bearings.
Step 10: Assembly 4
Both barn door rollers are fully assembled and are ready to ride the track!!!
Step 11: Assembly 5
I bolted the two rollers to the door frame. The door doesn't have its skin yet, but if the barn door hardware passes the test, then onward and upward!
Step 12: Track Assembly
I mounted the C channel and round bar track to a 20 foot section of 2" x 2" x 1/4" angle so the whole thing could be mounted to the top header of the spray booth. I chose to use 6-32 socket head screws and nuts to attach the track to the angle. The heads on these screws were small enough to fit between the two pieces of round bar. I then attached the whole thing to the header using 1/4-20 bolts and nuts about 18" apart down the length of the track.
Step 13: Hanging the Door
As the door was raised on to the track, the wheels simply sat on the round bar. You can see that the round bar keeps the wheel perfectly centered in the middle of the C channel.
Step 14: Hanging the Door 2
Here you can see the one door hanging on the 20 feet of track.
Step 15: Hanging the Door 3
You can see now why I didn't have the two rollers match each other. The opening of the spray booth was larger than the track (20 feet), so I simply moved the outermost bracket inward on the door so that the door could still open all the way and the rollers would still roll on the track. This door will be the right hand door (facing the booth), and the roller positions on the left hand door will be a mirror image of this one.
Here is the first door up on the track. You can see that it is a rather big opening to fill, 135" tall.
To say the door rolls smooth as butter, is an understatement. It rolls sooooo smooth and effortlessly. The best part is that this whole setup cost a very small fraction of buying something commercially. Time to build the second one and get this project finished.
Step 17: A Quick Video...
Here is a short video of the first test rolling the door down the track... So smooth. Time to finish this project!!!