Make a Big Metal Riveted Sliding Door [for the Mad Scientist in Your Life].




Introduction: Make a Big Metal Riveted Sliding Door [for the Mad Scientist in Your Life].

About: My girlfriend and I run a company called Deville's Workshop in Toronto, Canada. We build weird props for film and television and love this website - such a great resource for inspiration and discussion!

Hiya! If you like this Instructable please vote for it in the SECRET DOORS contest in the upper right hand corner! Thanks!!!

We decided that we needed a dust-free room in our shop so that my partner Tina could make the weird little robots and monsters and stuff she does without sawdust all over them. I am in the process of setting up a space for her now (it's still crammed full of boxes but I'm getting there) and I had a bunch of old metal fire doors so I figured I'd try to make a sliding door, something that only a mad scientist would want for their lab. These metal doors are great - I've got about a dozen of them stacked in a corner - I use them for shelving and workshop tables and all sorts of stuff!

Here is a list of the tools I remember using for this project:

1/2" Self-tapping screws
Small fixed castors
Nuts n bolts for the castors
Angle grinder with zip discs
MIG welder
Metal chop saw
Hammer drill
Ratchet straps
2x metal fire doors
3/4" black pipe (for the handle)

Step 1: Add Castors to the Base

The first thing I did was lay two of the doors down on my workshop table and try to fit castors on the bottom of them (I decided to use castors on the bottom because the mechanism for a top-mounted, hanging 'sliding barn door' style was a bit too costly). Anyway, I discovered that the base plate on the castors were wider than the door so I put them in the vise and cut strips off them with an angle grinder. I had to re-drill bolt holes and bolt them into the bottom of the doors.

Step 2: There Can Be Only One! (Weld the Two Doors Into One Door)

I used a long straight edge on the bottom of the castors and tapped the doors into alignment with the mallet. Once they were aligned I used ratchet straps to squeeze the doors together and then welded them. I beat them up a bit with the mallet to try to keep them straight, then filled them over and welded the other side. After that I added the rows of fake rivets. These were 1/2" self-tapping screws, spaced about 2" apart.

To make the channel along the ceiling I screwed to pieces of old angle iron into a 2x4 and mounted the whole thing to an overhead I-beam. I think I had about 3/16" clearance from the top of the door!

Step 3: Add the Door Handle

The final step was to add some door handles. For this I simply used some old black pipe and wrapped electrical tape around the handle so it wouldn't transfer smudge to hands any time the door is opened. And that's it - entrance to the mad lab! Now I just have to finish the inside and Tina can get back to her creature shop :)

Hope you like,




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    14 Discussions

    when your using the mig on thin metal like that turn the amps down more you have a lot of burn through.

    Bigger diameter narrow wheels will make the door move easier and sit lower to the ground. Hollow out 2 slots (9" grinder, 7 1/2" skillsaw, whatever) in the bottom to slide in the narrow wheels (metal pulleys, check out hardware store for garage door pulleys, auto parts or junk yard for something round & narrow 1/2"? ), drill a hole through the door and use bolts for the axles, leave maybe 1/2" of the wheel sticking out of the bottom. May have to reinforce the bottom with 1/8" - 1/4" metal strap/plate for strength to support axles. Most of the wheel will be inside of the door. Neater, cleaner, easier operating.

    1 reply

    Could also make it electric operated by using a reversing electric motor (old drill?), some 1/2" threaded rod, and weld a nut to the door. Mount the motor to the wall or ceiling. A drill motor would simplify the install because you would only have to chuck up the rod to the motor, no coupling needed.

    Hi Damian: cool project!! From one mad scientist to another - add some Frankenstein bolts and a biohazard symbol. After all, your girlfriend is (will be) on the other side :)

    Cool,A friend d of mine was looking for a sliding for a wood shed,he was looking for a door with rollers on top that fit in a grove,but I dont see why this wouldnt work better giving the weight of a large wooden door..Thanks,good job.

    2 replies

    Hmmm, I dunno! If the door will be used outdoors it might be better to use those industrial barn door hanging systems? I would have but they were a bit expensive and I'm terribly cheap, but if the doors are really heavy that more be a safer and more reliable system.

    If you do try this system my recommendation would be to use metal wheel casters; I'm not sure the ones I'm using won't develop flat spots after some time. All that being said it does seem to work well right now :)

    Im going to show him your design,which I think will work fine,and if it dosnt he hasnt lost alot of cash,also with your design,at least the wheels are easy to replace.Im also going to get myself a shipping container,and it will be an easy way to separate areas instead of walls.I think it will work for both Apps.It will be a while before I do my project,but if my buddy goes with you design,or borrows from it I will take a couple of photos,and let you see how it turns out,thanks again.

    I dont know about secret. You could do some other things to make it so. But this is a cool project on its own.

    instead of tape. use the faom copper tube insulators .

    umm u need a brush set-up on the bottom of yr door to keep a saw dust bunnys out

    Hey, does anyone have any advice on adding a counter-weight door opener and closer system??

    I love your sketches! Way cool project. The world needs more mad scientists.