September 29, 2016

Barn Doors

Early before sunrise the other day, I was sitting by an open window and heard an odd noise. At first it sounded like caterwauling, but then it dissolved into yipping and howling. It sounded like coyotes! We don't have what I would call a "coyote problem" here, but they do pass through on occasion. They don't bother us and we don't bother them, but if what I heard was coyotes, it was worrisome because it sounded like they were right at our fence line.

I went out to make enough ruckus to scare them away, but it concerned me that I had no way to secure the goats in the barn. We hadn't gotten to build the last barn door yet.

Guess what was on the next day's project list?



Dan and I spent a long time discussing what kind of door we wanted for this part of the barn: hinged or sliding. The beauty of sliding doors is that when open, they are out of the way. The drawback is that the apparatus is expensive. Hinges are easy to find and cheaper, but unless the doors can be secured to the wall when open, they can flop around in the wind or be bumped shut. Big doors will eventually sag on the hinges.

Dan did some pricing of materials and told me it would be around $200 for the sliding door track and hardware. More discussion. In the end he decided to do what he did for the sliding door on the chicken coop - make his own. This was going to be a bigger door than the chicken coop, however, so he did things a bit differently.


For the door hardware:
  • 2, 4" flat pulleys with enclosed bearings and 5/8" center hole
  • 5/8" bolts with shanks (the part that isn't threaded) long enough to fit through the hole in the pulley and act as an axle. 
  • 3/4" pipe cut to make spacers
  • flat washers
  • 5/8" nuts

To attach the wheel to the door:


  • 2, 15" gate hinges (the loops at the bottom are where gate bolts would attach it to a gate).
  • bolts and nuts to attach the hinge to the door

For the track, Dan originally looked for either pipe or solid stock. These were so expensive, however, that it would have been easier to buy the ready-made track. Instead he made his own.


  • 1/4" by 1" flat bar (aka strapping, Dan drilled the holes), total of 12 feet
  • oak ripped to 3/4" wide and 1.5" thick, 12 feet in length
  • flat head screws

The flat bar is the same width as the flat pulley. (If the pulley was rounded inside the wheel, pipe would have fit better.)

To attach the track to the barn:


  • 7, 90-degree 6" angle brackets 
  • 7 scraps of 1/2" plywood for spacers
  • screws

The spacers were necessary for the pulley wheels to ride the track without scraping the side of the barn. The bottom of the angle brackets were cut evenly with the width of the track with a hand grinder. Seven of these were used to support the weight of the door on the track.


The door itself is made two pieces of 1/2" plywood and homemilled boards. The X pattern keeps the plywood from twisting or warping.


It's heavy, so Dan did not attach the wheels to the door on the ends. He attached them 24 inches from the edges of the door to help prevent the door from sagging.


It's an eight-foot door, so this means that the pulley wheels are four feet apart. Another advantage to this was that the track didn't have to be as long. If the wheels had been at the edges of the door the track would have to be 16 feet instead of the 12 he made it.

I have to say that even though the door itself is very heavy, it glides on the track very easily.

A few other details: stops for the wheels and door.



The final cost for making the track and wheel system ourselves was only about a third of what it would cost to buy the track and hardware ready-made.

On the other hand, when you DIY you sometimes run into things you hadn't planned on. For example, the door was hitting on one of the battens (that's what I'm calling the strips of wood that cover the edge where the sheets of plywood meet). Dan's solution was to make something to guide the door to slide over the batten.


The only other problem was caused by the unevenness of the ground. It left a gap under the closed door that we didn't want. Dan used a broken pillar top that we saved from our front porch demolition two years ago.


It evens out the ground, blocks the gap under the closed door, and the goats think it's something to claim.

One last shot of the inside:


The only things left to do are to paint it and to reposition the fence post that you see in the second photo. Then we can get started on some windows.

Hopefully everything is fairly self-explanatory, but Dan said that if anyone wants more specific details to email us. (Hey, I think I feel another eBook for The Little Series of Homestead How-Tos coming on, LOL).

Barn Doors © September 2016 by Leigh 
at http://www.5acresandadream.com/

42 comments:

  1. Nothing makes a goat farmer move faster than predators. Nice work and love the budget version! Who say's it has to be store bought to do the job and look nice too?

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  2. Nice work Dan, great looking doors and I really appreciate the pictures showing each stage. You will sleep easir at night knowing the girls are safe.

    Is that April claiming the new 'observation post'?

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    1. Yes, that's April. I also got a few shots with her and her mom Jessie laying there side by side, but this was the nicest photo.

      Good doors and gates definitely help with peace of mind.

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  3. These look really good! We bought a stable for our goats years ago before I knew better. I hasn't worked well in some ways because it has too many doors and when one stall's doors are open, they block the next stall. We've been discussing re-configuring the entire set up, so I have been watching yours with a great deal of interest. The doors are a terrific addition! Thanks for sharing the "nuts and bolts" (ha!) of construction!

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    1. Forgot to add... We have coyote issues, too... One of our solutions has been motion lights. They do not like when the lights pop on and will leave right now!

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    2. We did a lot of the same thing, i.e. implement things that later didn't work as well as we'd hoped. All of the really helped in the design stages for this one though.

      I like the idea of the motion lights. We have a solar powered on the carport, but I think one off the back of the barn would be a good idea.

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  4. I love the hanging door. We have a a horrid time with skunks and raccoons this year.

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    1. I've had several people tell me that skunks and coons have been bad this year. We just had two more skunks this past week.

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  5. THANK YOU! Your husband is a fabrication genius....he would make an excellent candidate for President! :) We love sliding doors but the hardware has become prohibitive. This wonderful post is a godsend for us.

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  6. [book title: Construction Tales...The fine art of Making do!]

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    1. Love that! Now the wheels are turning, LOL.

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  7. I'm amazed how different our lives are. I wouldn't be sitting by a window before sun up. And I wouldn't run toward coyote noises. Y'all make me question if the homestead life is for me....

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    1. Serenity No worries for two reasons. One is not everyone belongs in the same place in life and two sometimes we need to get a better sense of what a lifestyle involves before we take the plunge.You can work your way into homesteading by spending a lot of time with friends who live that life. You may find that your level of "self sufficiency" is not the same as others. You may not have a garden but have a laying flock and a dairy goat or cow. Or maybe no livestock but a large garden. Homesteading communities create a wonderful climate for bartering of goods and services. Caution start slow don't jump into a bazillion projects at once. Pick one or two and spend the time to get to know them see how they fit. You may be an urban homesteader for your life. Then you only need to worry about the two legged coyotes lol.

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    2. Goatldi's right, there are as many styles of homesteading as there are people. :)

      As for getting up early, well, that's the best time for me to write.

      As to running toward the coyote sounds, well, I had a huge metal pan and baseball bat wacking up a terrible noise plus a flashlight flailing around as I hit the pan. And all in my nightgown, LOL

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    3. OMG! I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that one.lol

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  8. Nice work! I love rolling barn doors in theory, but after many years of struggling with the "sticky" rolling doors on many a horse barn, I decided against them here at home. But if I could make my own custom heavy-duty ones like Dan, it would be another story!
    And one of my hinged stall doors on my goat barn (built by professionals) is now hanging by one hinge, and NONE of the four "dutch" doors closes properly anymore...I will have to rehang every one of them, with longer bolts, and hope for the best. Always something.

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    1. Doors are tough and I hope we don't have problems with this one. The rolling door on the chicken coop is still functioning well after two years, and I think this one is better made. I have to admit that the dutch door in the front of the barn fits nicely when the door is closed, but looks very off when both top and bottom are open! Oh well. :)

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  9. your husband is a genius.
    you're not too shabby yourself.

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    1. I think he is too! I love that he always asks me what I want and then tries to make it happen. For my part, I acknowledge that I don't have the construction or structural understanding he does, and alter my ideas according to his advice. He's done some amazing things for me.

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  10. It's wise to put doors on all the buildings and sheds you use. I secure every building , every night, just at dusk and turn on all my security lights. In the morning I get up, turn off the lights at dawn, and open the buildings that need to be opened.

    I like the roller system. All of my doors are hinged but none are as big as your barn door.

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    1. We almost went with a hinged door, but we both knew a rolling door would be best and once Dan started looking around for parts, everything fell into place. I think we should add a security light too, a motion one for the back facing the woods to deter coyotes and other critters.

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  11. Another amazing DIY by Dan and Leigh!

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  12. Nice!!! I remember being very impressed with the coop slider. Does door swing out at all? Maybe not wide and flat as the pulley to track is. But noticed at the bottom door stop there's a gap between door and barn. Maybe another bend or added block on door stop to tuck door behind when closed? May not be necessary..or I may not be seeing it accurately.

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    1. Okay, it took me a minute to figure out which gap you were talking about. :) Yes, Dan is going to add something to keep the door tucked up closer to the barn, and to keep the wind from messing with it, like Ed mentioned below. One of those details I forgot to mention.

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    2. Dan says the end of the bracket (sticking out 90° from the barn) is to be bent to form a u-shape to hold the door when it's closed. Don't ask me why he didn't do that before he attached the stop!

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    3. Well, sometimes it's best to do a 'field fit' before the next bend/fabrication step. ;-) I should have known he'd have it covered.

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    4. Well, I don't always remember to add all the details. I like the term "field fit," we've just been calling it trial and error, :)

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  13. Looks great! I can't tell if you did this from the pictures but as someone who has rehung two doors over the years, I would suggest pounding a metal pipe or stake into the ground to hold the bottom of the door up against the barn when it is open and closed. Unless you have an extremely beefy lock on the inside, and I've seen some really beefy ones rip boards from the door even, a strong wind can suck that door away from the barn and send it flying. With the bottom contained with stakes in the ground, I've never seen that happen. We lost our sliding doors on our shop once and another machine shed once. In both cases, the fasteners help the locks to the 'two-by' material of the door but broke the 'two-by' material right out of the door and sent the remainder flying!

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    1. Ed, yes, that definitely needs to be done. In winter and spring we have those strong winds, which is one of the reasons I didn't want hinged doors. But we don't want this one to go flying either!

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  14. I like your barn doors! You have one handy husband! Nancy

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  15. I'm envious of y'all's skills. :)
    I can only imagine what a mess I would have made with a project like that!

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    1. Bill, as a farmer I'm guessing you're able to rise to the need! But thanks, :)

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  16. NICE BUILD!!! I too, am a "cheapskate fabricator/make doer" and love this build. Wished y'all would have put some sort of link to the pulleys....may have found them after hours of searching, though.

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    1. We found them at Tractor Supply Co. You're right, it would have been a good thing to link to! TSC has almost everything needed to DIY barn doors.

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