The Campus Outreach leader of my college had expressed that he wanted to build some sort of door to divide his open kitchen from their living room/den. I told him a sliding barn door would be perfect and that I was down to build one for/with him. Again, I offered up the 70-year-old fence wood I have access to, and he jumped at the opportunity. I had him look at the many different styles of doors and we ended up both choosing a single, variable sized plank door.
Step 1: The Design
The door needed to be 83” tall and 78” wide to cover the crowning of the doorway. We decided to use a rolling system rather than a sliding system because the minimal price for sliding was $120 and we made ours for ~$40. We used 4 caster wheels and a metal pipe with two T’s connected to the door to keep it from tilting.
Rather than trying to find 15 (15*~5” =75”) perfectly flat sections of 78” for the door, we decided to divide up 78” in different ways and use smaller planks of wood. This would allow for more of each 12’ section to be used rather than having to waste it because of a bow or curve in half of it. We used the combinations of: 24” + 54”, 36” + 42”, 39” + 39”, and 26” + 26” + 26” to vary where the boards line up.
Step 2: The Work Part 1
I downed around 20-25 12’ fence boards to make sure I had enough for the project (Originally, the support on the back was going to be fence wood as well).
I cut 5 pairs of each combination and then we randomly spread them out into three groups of 5. As we laid them out, we made sure that none of the cracks lined up or were repeating in any sort of pattern.
I ripped all of the pieces so they would have a flat edge for the biscuits. We laid them back down in the order of the door and marked across pairs of boards for cutting the biscuits. Joey, the client, helped cut all of the biscuits while I ripped the other group of boards. We carried them into the next room and laid them on the pipe clamps to be glued.
(Unfortunately I forgot to document this step with pictures)
We glued one group of boards at a time, letting it dry before adding the second group. We stacked the extra fence boards in between the pipes to help support the door since not all of the pieces reached across to both pipes. We filled any cracks and knots that wouldn't close up with wood filler and spackle.
We then spent several hours sanding down both sides of this door. We used a rasp and a belt sander to knock the wood down, and two hand sanders and an orbital sander to smooth everything out. we used 60 grit all over, the client didn't need/want the door perfectly smooth.
Step 3: The Work Part 2
Once the entire door was glued together,
it was time to build the support frame on the back. We opted to use 2x4”s rather than the fence wood so the door would be stronger and thicker for the pipe mounts/caster wheels. I used a simple square outline pattern with two even vertical slats through the middle. I biscuited the corners and two middle pieces together to keep the whole frame together. I then drilled guide holes around the entire frame, making sure to line up at least two screws per board on the vertical running frame sides. I then would clamp both sides of the hole I was drilling into so that the board underneath was pressed up onto the 2x4 before I screwed down into it. I countersunk all of the screws so I could spackle the holes and smooth out the support frame on the back. I filled all the holes and then sanded the frame off with 220 grit.
Now that the whole door was attached, I took a router, circular saw, hand saw, jigsaw, and belt sander to clean up the edges to match the frame. Different areas required different tools, with more planning, a circular saw and a jig would’ve been the easiest. I sanded off the edges with a 60 grit belt sander.
Step 4: The Stain
Joey had previously helped build his kitchen table, which was stained with "Espresso" and he wanted the door to match. We bought two cans of poly/stain espresso for the support frame and the front, using satin poly for the back. We did the back first, being careful not to get the stain on the back, as he wanted to leave the wood natural. After several hours of drying, we stood the door up and stained the front, using a can and a quarter of stain. We did our best to get all the edges, but some was touched up once installed.
Step 5: The Paint
Although I lack pictures, to support system used for the door was fairly simple. We went to Lowes and found 1" metal piping at 10' and 3' and welded them together at 13' since Lowes doesn't sell piping that long. We bought two 1" floor flanges with 2 close threadings and two 90* elbow joints. This all adds up to be the top track for the door. We then bought two 1 1/4" T's, two 1 1/4" close threadings, and two 1 1/4" floor flanges to attach the door to the track. I cut the two floor flanges with a metal saw so rather than being full circles, the base was now a rectangle that fit within the top of the door. The T's slide on the track without actually holding the weight of the door, simply there for looks and to keep the door from tilting. We then bought four 3" caster wheels for the bottom.
I took all of these parts home and spray painted them flat black.
Make sure to get straight caster wheels, otherwise the wheels will spin everywhere and not be effective.
Also, this door lacks a floor guide to help better keep the door from tilting or sliding out of line. This is highly encouraged if using a rolling system.
Step 6: The Installation
We finally had the track and the door both ready to go, so we loaded it all up in the truck and headed over to Joeys house. We had two other guys come help get the barn door in the door and help hold it in place as we screwed the wheels in the bottom and the T's on top. we ran the pipe through the T's and moved the door onto the wall it was to be fastened to. We bought dry wall screws to mount the pipe to the wall, assuming we wouldn't be very lucky with hitting studs. We hit 2, but ended up still using the dry wall anchor screws for all 8 holes. We made sure that the pipe was level, but also didn't drag on any parts of the T's so that there would be minimal friction and drag from the top.
The door overall pulls fairly smoothly, one problem is that the ground the door rests on is tile, so there is grout grooves that the wheels must roll over. Also, randomly, there is an air vent that nobody could do anything about right in the middle. Other than those two things, the door works very well, and provides excellent privacy and sound cancellation for both rooms.
Well probably add a handle later, he didn't want one as of the installation.
Step 7: The End
As always, if you have any questions or comments or inquiries, feel free to comment below or email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org !