Sliding Barn Doors — My Way

I say “my way” and as of now, not 100% sure they’ll turn out right but do have a good feeling about my thought process.  I’m using Stanley Hardware, heavy duty galvanized for actual doors on a barn!  Lowest cost and they had the one piece, 8 foot long track that is needed for my application.  The doors are made of Alder (6/4) and the plan is to have corrugated tin roofing for inserts.  Let me say this too, it’s been well over a year since I’ve done this type of work.  Remember that during our six month Scottsdale Adventure the focus was carving and gilding and then when we returned to Las Vegas it was time to move.  Now the shop is built here in Phoenix and I’m back in my happy place.

After surfacing the Alder to uniform thickness it was allowed to acclimate to the shop before ripping to width and beginning the joinery.  Classic mortise and tenon for something like this and since it really is “utilitarian” my hybrid method of machines for grunt work and hand tools to fit them properly.  I must admit that on this project the tenons were almost exact right off the tablesaw!  Half inch mortises were cut first in the exact center of each piece, this way either face could be presented to the fence but center must be right on — I use a dial caliper to check both sides:

It’s wise to clamp all of your pieces together and do the layout at one time to ensure each location is the same.  For smaller work you can layout on one piece and then set stops on the mortiser for repetitive cuts.  The mortise is haunched and is 1 1/4″ deep.  To set the haunch depth check the right hand picture, I use a 3/4″ set up block between the depth stop to obtain a 1/2″ deep haunch — just a little trick to pass on.

After cleaning these up it’s time to cut the tenons on the crosspieces.  Layout begins with the marking gauge and cutting is accomplished on the table saw and also a tenoning jig.

I use dovetail saws to trim the tenons as needed and lay out for the haunch.  This can be problematic, I mean am I the only one whose cut the haunch wrong because of a measuring or visualization error which leads to cutting the haunch wrong?  What works for me is to first set a small adjustable square to the depth of the haunch and then hold it like shown in the right hand picture to establish the correct cut.

Glue up was straight forward, what was a bit of a challenge though was to cut the 1/2″ x 1/2″ rabbet on the inside to set the corrugated tin into.  Hated the thought of using a router with all of its noise and mess so made plunge and stop cuts on the tablesaw.  After the doors were assembled the rabbets were connected by cutting them out with chisel, mallet, and a router plane.

That’s enough information and pictures for one blog so I’ll call it complete.  Since I’m going at it my own way and not the way Stanley suggested getting the hangers on the doors was a head scratcher — next blog will reveal the secrets!


About woodworksbyjohn

I'm a retired woodshop teacher. I build one of a kind furniture pieces and custom picture frames. You can see some of my currently available work, boxes, carvings through my Etsy store: Contact me about your project -- always up for the challenge of unique work.
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7 Responses to Sliding Barn Doors — My Way

  1. These are going to look very nice!


  2. Greg Merritt says:

    Nice meticulous work John. Looking forward to the next installment.


  3. snwoodwork says:

    What do you think of your mortiser? I need to get one but not sure if I need to go all the way to the Powermatic. Their benchtop one is 1/4 hp more than the competition.


    • I love it! It’s an older Jet JFM-5. Replaced my bench top model when I had a set of 6 chairs to do. Being able to adjust vise in two axis and set stops is great. Also clamping is improved over bench top. Table tilts too but I generally angle my tenons. Well worth getting quality chisels too. One of those tools you agonize spending $$$ on but glad you have it when needed.


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