If Jeremy and I have a single thing in common, it’s our love of family heirlooms and an appreciation for our heritage. The downstairs of our home is filled with random pieces of antiques such as Jeremy’s Papa Lefler’s milk cans, a wall mount thermometer that my Great Grandpa Cole received when he purchased a new tractor, a sled my that my Grandpa Cole received as a Christmas gift, and a collection of trinkets given to me by my Grandma. Many of the pieces wouldn’t be worth much to someone else, but they’re priceless to us. We have created an authentic farmhouse vibe using furniture and decor, but the structural features of our house didn’t quite match. I have plans to change all the door and window facings, and to eventually add a shiplap accent wall. While at Haven Conference in Atlanta, I got to see some of the beautiful hardware available from Crownbolt at Home Depot. This inspired me to want to build my own set of barndoors for an otherwise large doorway that lacked any real style. Today I’m sharing my barn door tutorial with some tips for selecting your door design.
One of the most difficult aspects of this project was deciding what style barn door to build. There are so many door patterns out there, and building them can be simple or complicated. I looked at dozens of prefabricated door images before I settled on a door style, and even the one I chose had a variation. This door style does require some angled cuts, so I would consider it an intermediate project.
Barn Door Styles:
Once you’ve settled on a design, you will need to decide on the type of lumber to use. From time to time a tree will blow down on one of the farms, or a diseased tree will need to be cut. If the material is suitable, Jeremy and his Dad will try to salvage a log or two. Waste not, want not, as the expression goes. Jeremy has had some of these logs sawed into rough lumber over the years, and he has little piles of poplar, oak, and walnut scattered around in different barns and garages. He had planned on using some of it to make swings and furniture, but when I mentioned making barn doors he suggested using that lumber.
Now here’s my first piece of non-instructional advice:
Barnwood or rough sawn lumber will be much more difficult to use over furniture grade lumber. Why? Most furniture grade lumber will be straighter and more evenly planed. You can go through piles at the hardware store or lumber yard to find the most straight and even pieces. Furniture grade lumber is much easier to assemble and will give you a more refined door. Barnwood or rough sawn lumber will not always be even or perfectly straight. Jeremy and I had to square up the door as much as possible using our own techniques such as having my son sit on a board on the sawhorse to help push the sway out of it.
Here’s the “lovely” stack of wood that we started with:
You’ll also need to take into consideration the finished weight of the door. The back planks are poplar on our doors and the cross boards are white oak, which made our door very heavy. Materials such as pine are much lighter, and can provide a similar look.
We used this hardware from Crownbolt that’s available for purchase from Home Depot:
It’s the Everbilt Dark Oil-Rubbed Bronze Decorative Sliding Door Hardware. We used one set of hardware for each door. The same hardware is also available in stainless steel. The same company offers a couple of other styles and colors of sliding door hardware to suit different tastes.
If your ceilings are low and they’re close to the top of your doorway, you’ll need to measure to ensure you have enough space to place the hardware. We had lots of headroom, so we actually “overbuilt” our doors relative to the size of the opening to enhance the appearance.
Jeremy and I measured the height and width of our doorway so we could determine how big to build our doors. We wanted them just wide enough to to cover the outside door frame but tall enough so that they weren’t dwarfed by the taller ceiling height.
We made a sketch of the doors so we could measure and cut board dimensions.
Second piece of non-instructional advice:
If using furniture grade lumber, you can more easily select lumber to get a precise size door. Barn wood or rough cut lumber will be a little more difficult. None of our boards were the exact same width, and the same will be true for most salvaged wood. We had to sort through pieces to match up boards to be roughly the same width. It wasn’t overly difficult, just a little more time consuming.
Barn Door Tutorial:
Jeremy cut all the door panels to the desired height, and I used an electric sander to remove rough splinters, dirt, and debris from the boards.
Cut boards prior to sanding.
We placed the lumber on saw horses so we could begin to assemble them and make sure they everything lined up properly.
Once the doors were laid out, we used wood glue and clamps to begin securing the door while we squared it up. You can see that some of the boards were slightly misshapen, but we were using rough cut lumber, and these imperfections contribute to the character of our doors.
When we had the door squared up as much as possible, we used wood glue and a second set of clamps to hold it together before using wood screws to secure it.
We went through the backside of the door, so that none of the screws are exposed on the door face.
Use a tape measure and level to mark all of your screws so that they’re straight and organized, that will help give your door a better finished appearance. Once all of your screw holes are marked, drill pilot holes for each to avoid splitting near the edge of your lumber.
Once the door is screwed together, you will want to stain it and prepare to hang it. I’ll include those instructions in the second half of my barn door tutorial can be found here.
Here’s another glimpse of the finished product: