How to build a Barn Door the easy way

Have you ever wanted to build a barn door?  Whats holding you back?  

Building your own barn door is easier than you may think.  In this blog “How to build a Barn door the easy way” I will walk you through step by step  with a quick time lapse video of the barn door we are going to build.

A quick look at the project!

Lets start by taking a quick look at the barn door that we are going to be building in this tutorial.  This Barn Door style is sure to add that rustic farm style feel to anyone’s home decor. 

Barn Door

The Barn Door

This barn door was built using an assortment of 1″ common white pine boards that are available at most of your big box store as well as local lumber yards. This style consists of of a side boarder of 3″ wide  and a top border of roughly 5 1/2″ wide.  The decorative center cross measures the same width as the sides at 3″ to stay consistent with the over all door size.

Final Barn door size: 29″ x 80″ x 1.5″

Here is a list of materials & tools used

Materials

  • 4 - 1" x 8" x 8' Pine Boards
  • 1 - 1" x 6" x 8' Pine Boards
  • 2 - 1" x 4" x 8' Pine Boards
  • Wood Glue
  • Wood Biscuits
  • Brad Nails 1.25"
  • Orbital Sand Paper
  • Wood Filler

First, Choose your wood

This step may seem to be an obvious starting point BUT there is more involved than just picking the first board off a stack in the store & placing it on the cart! 

Make sure to pick straight boards...

When choosing a board for any project it is extremely important to choose straight boards with no twisting. 

There are a few simple ways you can check this fairly quick. 

One, if you have a good eye simply look down the board to see if there are and curves or twists.  For those without a straight eye not to worry. 

I actually prefer this method! Lay the board on a KNOWN flat surface (the floor at my store works well) and see if it lifts off the floor at any of the 4 corners.   If the boards doesn’t lay flat on the gr you think that its okay to use twisted boards you new Barn Door may not like it.

Look at the cup of the board

The second thing to look for in a board is the cup.  This can be seen at the end of the board.  Boards are cut from a tree which in nature are round.  But wait, the boards aren’t round! If you notice on the end you can see curves.  These curve tell a store.  If the boards cup span the whole board (like a rainbow) there is a chance that it will actually start to cup.

Although all wood will have a cup there are some things to look for.  Try to choose boards that contain more vertical lines on the end of the board.  Also choosing wood with tighter grain will help.  Lastly, always choose a Kiln dried wood.  If your unsure about the moisture levels in the board there is an amazing little tool that can be picked up for about $25. A Digital Moisture Meter is a must have for any woodworker. Wood pieces that are built for inside the home should typically have a final moisture level somewhere in the 5% – 8% range. Trust me, when you go out and purchase the Digital Moisture Meter you will be checking everything piece of furniture in your house!

Pick the best wood grain for your finish

Choosing the right wood grain can make a world of difference for the look and feel of your new barn door.  When choosing your boards for your barn door take the time to lay them our side by side on the floor of the store or on your work bench at your workshop.  Move the boards up and down to get the best grain match your looking to achieve. This is particularly important if you are planing on a stain finish.  Stain finishes will allow you to see the natural beauty of the wood you have chosen for your barn door.  If you painting your door as the final finish of course this step is not as important but it is worth mentioning.  

Getting started on your barn door

The Barn Door we are building measures 29″ wide x 80″ tall with a final thickness of 1.75″ thick.  I have went through and picked out the 4 pine boards that I will be using for the backing of my door.  Now its time to start prepping the backing boards so that the can be glued up.

First I need to cut the backing boards to the correct length.  In my case the boards for our barn door are being cut to 80″ in length.  This will be the final height of our barn door.  Using our Dewalt Compond Miter saw we measure each board making sure that both ends of the board get straight square cuts.

It is important to joint the boards edge to achieve a nice tight joint between the boards on the Barn Door backing.  This is done on our Powermatic Jointer. When joining two boards you want to make sure that there are no gaps between the two edges that are being joined.  This will ensure that there is good surface to surface area for the glue to work correctly. 

After the boards are joined you will want to take a carpenters square down the edges of the boards to make sure the edges are true 90 degree edges.  If you don’t have access to a jointer a hand plan will work as well or simply being very particular when picking out the boards at your lumber yard.

Using our awesome Saw Stop table saw (so we don’t lose a finger) we now need to rip the backing boards to the needed width to achieve our final door wide of 29″.  We are using four 1x’s so each board will need to be ripped to a final width of 7.25″ wide. 

We want our barn doors to look a little unique instead of having a flat backing.  To get the look we are going for we need to run our router along the edges of all the backing boards that meet each other on the backing boards.  To do this we are using a Freud 1/4″ Champher.  This router bit is designed to route a slight angle profile on the edge of a board. 

The router bit comes with a bearing that allows you to simply glide along the board edge with ease.  Adding this small quick detail to the boards will give us a V look between the boards to add to the over all look of the barn door.

Now that are barn doors backing boards are prepared it is time to break out our Dewalt Biscuit Joiner.  Using the biscuit joiner makes aligning the boards a cake walk.  placing all the backing boards together on a flat surface you will now draw a few line across the width of the boards where they meet.  This mark is where you will use the Dewalt biscuit joiner to cut a slot into the edge of the board to accept the wooden biscuit. 

With the 80″ door we use roughly 6 wooden biscuit along each joining edge.  This will help keep the boards aligned and add strength to the joint. The wooden biscuits are glued into the slots.  Wood glue is applied to the remaining edge of the boards that are being joined.  After all the wood glue is applied the boards are then clamped together and left to dry. 

The wooden biscuit will swell in the slots making for a nice bond.  Be sure to wipe any glue that squeezes out in the seams before it drys.  This will make for an easier finish at the end as wood glue will not accept stains.  If your painting the Barn Door that is a different story.

Our barn door design is calling for a simple picture frame around the edges and top of the door with a slash going from corner to corner.  The side pieces for the picture frame are cut first. 

We have ran the boards through our saw stop table saw to get the final width of 3″.  After they are ripped down for the width we cut the boards to the same length as the backing boards (in our case 80″).  The cut boards are then glued and nailed to the face of the barn door backing.  We are using a Brad Nailer with 1 1/4″ brad nails

We are making sure that the boards are flush with the edges of the backing boards.  The top part of the picture frame is ripped on our saw stop table saw at 5 1/2″ wide.  The larger width give the barn door a more rugged look and feel.  In our case these boards are cut to 26″ in length after the are ripped down.  They are then glued and attached to the backing boards making sure they are flush with the top.

The center slash is also ripped to the same width as the sides (in our case 3″).  The easiest way to measure the board is to lay it on top of the door and mark where the edges meet. 

Using a speed square you will then determine what the angle is and cut the board using a Miter Saw.  I believe the angle on this doors size was roughly 20 degrees but you will want to check your doors angle to make sure.  After the board is cut it will be glued and nailed to the backing boards.

The Final steps

Now that you are done assembling the barn door it is time for the finishing touches.  Go over the entire door and fill all the holes that the nails have left.  Once the wood filler has dried you will need to use an Orbital Sander to sand the entire door to your likens.  Typically I start with an 80 grit and finish with a 220 grit.  

After the Barn Door is sanded you are now ready to paint, stain or seal to whatever look you are trying to achieve.

 

I hope that you have found this information helpful on How to build a barn door the easy way!  If you hae any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments.  Happy woodworking!

 

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