So, here’s something fun on a Monday… this afternoon (Monday 8/26) I’ll be participating in Lifehacker’s Ask an Expert series from 3-4 PM EST. It’s a live chat, and I’ll be fielding questions related to my area of expertise (which, given the day, could be DIY, power tools, and what to do when chickens have taken over your kitchen.) I’ll post links to the chat on Facebook and Twitter around 3 PM EST if you want to join to ask a question or point and laugh at my spelling errors and EXCESSIVE USE OF CAPS. What can I say? I get super excited to talk about tools.
In the meantime, however, let’s talk about barn doors. Now, if I was just a little bit meaner, I would have titled this post “How to Build a Barn Door” and then google would direct eight million people to this website, all of whom would take a look at this thing…
And go, “WTF google? I can’t put that shit in my kitchen.” (Insert evil cackle here.) Seriously, when’s the last time you saw someone build a barn door for an actual barn? It’s impossible, because when you search the internet for anything barn door related, this is what you get:
Which, let me tell you, when you’re twelve hours in to building an eight foot door and decide to search for “barn door hardware” to determine if it makes more sense to salvage the eighty year old track you’re working with or buy new, and google vomits 400 images of pristine kitchen barn doors and their impractically decorative hardware all over you… you will say all the bad words about Pinterest.
Except, of course, all of those doors are effing amazing and I need to build a couple for my master bedroom right this minute.
Instead, I exercised a modicum of restraint (ugh) and decided to deal with the problem at hand before building decorative doors for my bedroom. That problem looked like this:
That barn door was never in great shape, but a few weeks ago it finally crossed the line between ugly and non-functional. When you have two donkeys that will take off mid-vaccination so that you’re forced to chase them around an acre of pasture while they have a needle sticking out of their neck (Parker, I’m looking at you), a functional barn door becomes a necessity.
So, last weekend I cut down a couple of sheets of T1-11 to use as the door panel…
And my progress pretty much stopped there.
This weekend, I expected it to be a fairly quick job to tack them together, but there were rabies shots to contend with, as well as one very vindictive carpenter bee who spent most of Saturday making kamikaze dives at my head (which resulted in a lot of yelling, arm-flapping, and running around in circles, but not a lot of progress on the door, oddly.)
Still, I had some new tools to play with, which meant even slow progress was fun. (More on this beauty later.)
My original thought was to create on big X-brace in the center of this door, which would have been a good idea structurally, but visually it just didn’t have the right proportions to the rest of the barn. Instead I opted for a vertical brace down the center of the two boards which, with the liberal use of deck screws, seemed to do the job.
Then I created some purely aesthetic X’s for the sides.
There are two ways you can do this. The first would be to use two full boards, mark where they cross in the middle, and then chisel half of the thickness out of each of them to create a flat X (similar to the way I built these picnic table legs, or the braces on the chicken coop doors.)
Since these pieces of trim were for decoration only, I decided to just use one full board on the diagonal and cut two smaller pieces for the other side of the X.
To cut the pieces, I lined the board up and then use a straightedge to mark the angles.
This is not an exact science, but it has the benefit of not requiring you to do complex mathematical equations after 6 PM on a Sunday.
After some debate (and frowning at Google), I also decided to re-use the old hardware, which got a quick coat of black spray-paint.
Meanwhile, back in the pasture, someone was pretending to innocently play with their ball while my neighbors and I prepped the door for transport to the barn…
Do not be fooled.
In the seven seconds we left the gate open, Doc made a break for it. Luckily the sight of a beautiful new door on the barn lured him back in. (Or else it was the treats.)
The only issue with re-installing the door on the tracks was a stuck bearing. I tried hitting it with a hammer, my neighbor tried the slightly more subtle (and effective) approach of using a little Liquid Wrench.
Dammed if it didn’t work. It’s not perfect, but for using hardware that’s older than I am, it actually runs pretty smoothly…
And passed the donkey inspection.
The only problem is, it looks so nice that now I’m going to have to repaint the rest of the barn…