Scott, my husband, is an AMAZING DIY handyman. I like to call him the Handy Husband. Between the hardwood floors, our entire home office, the kitchen table, and now these closet doors, hung from a barn-style track system that he designed and engineered himself, we have saved tens of thousands of dollars to get such custom touches in our home.
We fell in love with barn-style track systems that are hanging gorgeous doors in and on all the design magazines and websites right now. What we couldn’t stomach was the $400+ price tag. We searched high and low for a tutorial that would tell us how to re-create the rustic-meets-modern look of this exposed hardware, but couldn’t find any that were detailed enough or produced the look similar to the kits we would buy if we had a limitless budget.
So Scott spent weeks designing and putting them together himself, for a total of less than $120 (not including tools).
He is so extremely thorough and pays so much attention to detail it kinda makes my head spin. We’re very opposite like that. So I’m sure you can imagine how much “fun” we’ve had collaborating on this blog post. And hopefully you can understand why it’s taken over a month to get it up after I let you all peek at our doors this summer.
Let me say, because of his attention to detail and insistence on creating a very thorough tutorial, complete with materials list and illustrated diagrams, it should (hopefully) be easy for the intermediate handyman/woman to recreate in a weekend.
Please note: THIS IS NOT A BEGINNER’S PROJECT. I’m not saying you can’t do this as your first DIY project, but it’s definitely challenging if you’re new to using these tools.
Please also note: You will need a variety of tools to do this. That said, most of the tools would likely be found in your garage if you’ve done a few home-improvement projects.
To start, you’re going to attach the track wheels to the bars that will hold up your doors. The diagram above can be viewed at full size by clicking on it, or going here.
Let’s walk through each of the steps illustrated above.
1. Grab a 3/4″ x 36″ x 3/16″ flat bar, and begin to bend the bar about 6-8 inches from the top. Bend the bar to a 90 degree angle.
This part is not exactly easy and takes some strength. Scott started the bend by laying it over a piece of the bent angle steel on the floor with about 6-8 inches sticking off one side, standing on top of the steel bar. He started bending it with his weight by stepping down on it. After he got the bend started, he hammered it until it reached 90 degrees.
2. Place the steel round rod (dowel rod) inside the seam. Hammer the flat bar another 90 degrees until the bar has completely folded over. Keep the rod in the seam of the bend the entire time so your bend is curricular to allow head space for the wheel.
The rod and the flat bar need to be held in place (preferably by someone else standing on them) as you continue to hammer the flat bar until it’s folded. That someone else, in our case, MAY have been our 4-year-old.
3. Place your drill 1.5 inches from the top of the bend. Drill a 7/32″ pilot hole through both sides of the bended rod. To prevent from burning out your drill bit, you may want to dip your drill bit periodically into some engine oil. If it does get dull, sharpen the tip with your grinder.
4. Using a crowbar, pry the bent end of the bar away from the straight end to make room to insert the wheel. Only pry it about 45 degrees.
5. Insert the wheel and shaft. Line up the shaft with the drilled holes. As you can see in the image, the shaft will likely have to go in at an angle. As you slowly hammer it down, it will straighten out. (Make sure the shaft doesn’t get pinned between the steel pieces or pressure from the hammer might break or jam it.)
6. Now cut the extra length off (at 11 3/4″ from the top of the bend) from the long end of the bar and the short end, using your miter saw with a masonry blade. The excess from the long end will be used for a second wheel and bar.
Please be careful when you cut the excess off at the top near the wheel that you don’t hit the wheel with the blade. Be prepared for sparks!
7. Drill 3/8″ pilot holes 5″ from the top of the bend and 10″ from the top of the bend. Again, use motor oil if needed to keep your bit from dulling, and use the grinder to re-sharpen your drill bit as you work. You can also use the grinder to smooth out the cuts at the ends and where the holes are drilled.
Repeat those steps 3 more times (assuming you’re only hanging 2 doors and/or only need 4 wheels on bars), and then have a beer…
Unless you’re jumping right into the next part of this project: the track. (If you’re on my homepage, click through to read more.)
This image can also be viewed at a larger size by clicking on it or going here.
The key ingredients for the track system are the wooden backboard, the steel track, and the spacers between the two, which rest atop the washers.
For two or more doors, you’re probably not going to find a steel piece long enough to have a continuous track. At least not at your big box home improvement stores. You won’t have a problem finding a long enough piece of wood, though, so once you’re finished adhering the whole system to your back board, it will be one solid piece.
To make our own spacers, we bought a steel pipe and cut it to length using the miter saw with the masonry blade. It’s important the washers are sandwiched between the pipe spacers and the backboard so the pressure is distributed and they don’t dig into the wood.
The bolts in the middle of the track need to be flush with the track (so your doors can glide over them), so it’s important to countersink them.
We left specific measurements out of the track design because it’s going to vary based on your specific use. Be sure when you’re determining the length of your backboard and track that you account for the doors opening completely, and you’re going to want the ends of the track (or as close to it) to drill into studs with lag screws (as shown in the diagram).
Note that your pilot hole in the wall for the lag screws should be 9/32″
Take your 36″ x 1″ x 1/8″ steel angle piece and cut it 1 1/4″ from the end to create your stoppers. Drill a 3/8″ pilot hole into one end of it (off-center, away from the bend) and drill the lag screw through the end piece, the track, the spacer, the washer and into the back board and wall.
If you want to stop the doors in the center of the track, repeat this process with two stoppers in the middle like we did.
We aren’t including instructions on how to make the doors in this tutorial, though we hope to have them up shortly in a separate tutorial.
To hang the track (one solid piece at this point after assembly), we rested the doors on top a 1/2″ piece of drywall we had lying around (because we knew we wanted a 1/2″ clearance from the floor). I held the doors in place while Scott placed the track on top of the doors, resting the bottom of the steel bar of the track directly onto the top of the doors. Then he measured 7/8″ from the very top of the wood back board and made a line across the width of the track.
We laid the doors back down to get them out of the way, and Scott used that line to attach the track to the wall, lining the top of the back board up to the line.
To attach the wheels and bars to the door, we set the doors back on the drywall sheet, and I held them against the closet as Scott placed the wheels over the track and marked where he wanted them to be bolted to the doors. Then we took them back down and he attached them.
Now, let’s talk about a couple added safety features. These are steps you can only take AFTER you’ve assembled your doors and attached the wheels to them.
Once you’ve got everything assembled and are ready to hang the doors, you’ll most likely want to install jump-plates to keep your doors from jumping off the track.
Measure the depth of your door (how thick it is). You’re going to want to cut a steel angle to that measurement. Hang your doors on the track. Then measure from the bottom of the track to the top of the door and subtract 1/8″ off that measurement. Trim down one side of the steel angle to this measurement with the grinder.
You’re going to have to re-measure for each wheel because the measurements may vary slightly.
On the other side of the steel angle drill a 1/4″ pilot hole and attach the piece to the top of the door using a wood screw, directly below where the wheel rests on the track.
One final safety feature we added to ours (after my many visions of our rambunctious children somehow managing to pull the doors down on top of themselves) are these back door roller assembly pieces and an aluminum c-channel strip.
The rollers attach to the wall, near the corner of the door opening, and the c-channel strip runs the width of the door along the backside. The rollers fit into the c-channel strip.
This serves double duty, keeping the doors from pulling away from the wall.
There you have it! A DIY Barn Door Track Tutorial that will leave you with a gorgeous custom piece that looks like something out of a design magazine.
While we tried to be as thorough as possible with this, it’s certainly possible we missed some things, so please chime in in the comments section with any questions you have. Please be sure to leave your comments in the blog comments portion and not the Facebook comments portion since I don’t receive notification of Facebook comments on here and may miss your question.