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Thread: Reclaimed wood sliding barn door

  1. #1
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    Reclaimed wood sliding barn door

    I'm bidding on a job that calls for a hanging barn door. The wood should have that reclaimed look.

    First question - is soft maple a suitable wood to use?
    I am thinking of using soft maple that I turn into "reclaimed" by physically distressing the surface with a wire wheel, and then using ferrous sulphate and other methods to age the wood. They don't want it crazy beat up and stained dark. More a driftwood feel.

    Second question is about construction. The doors will be 36" x 97" each.
    I figured on making a frame 1" thick. The stiles could be 2 - 2 1/2" wide, the rails 3" wide.
    I would have a rail top, bottom and two more in between.
    This frame would be sheated on both sides with approx 3/4" thick "reclaimed" wood, layed up horizontally.

    This will put the finished door at about 2 1/2" thick.
    To avoid any chink of light through the door, however unlikely, I can fill the frame with foam sheeting before sheathing it.

    That's about it. Any advice?

    thanks, Mark

  2. #2
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    Will this be exposed to the weather? Maple, in general, is not very durable without some good protection. The Wood Database says this about soft maples: "Rot Resistance: Rated as non-durable to perishable in regard to decay resistance."

    Farmers used almost every type of wood that was at hand, but most of the wood on my old barn and doors is oak, some poplar, cedar. When I make barn doors I like to use red cedar but I've never tred to make them look old. Most wood exposed to the elements eventually turns grey - maybe a grey stain would be useful.

    Sand blasting certain species can give a great weathered "driftwood" look.

    JKJ

  3. #3
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    Wire brushing works better on softwoods than on hardwoods. The reason is that in softwoods (think douglas fir for instance) there's a big difference in hardness between the early wood and the late wood. The wire brush easily erodes the soft parts, so you really see the grain. Compare that to, say, maple, and the wire brush doesn't accentuate the grain much at all.

  4. #4
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    John, these are interior door, so they will not be exposed to any weather.

    Jamie, good point about the grain.

    The viability of the construction - will it work?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gibney View Post
    ...The viability of the construction - will it work?
    If I understand correctly, you're going to have several internal rails (running horizontally), and cover them with surface boards also running horizontally. If so, aren't the internal rails kinda superfluous? Now, if your internal intermediate parts were running vertically, they'd have a function: they corral the middles of all the surface boards. Okay, in a 36"-wide door, maybe you only need one.

  6. #6
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    Good point about the mid-rails. However, how securely can I attach the surface boards? They'll be 4" - 6" wide. They'll expand and contract a little, right?
    Can I glue them securely with, say, yellow glue?
    And do I need to leave a very small gap?

    Never made one of these doors before. Thanks.

  7. #7
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    Why donít you use actual reclaimed wood in the first place and just make it structurally sound? Does the client really want to have something new pretend to be old? Maybe they do, I donít think understand this idea. But if they want it o be old and dirty, why not just slap some old and dirty boards together?

  8. #8
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    Air dried rough cut lumber from the back of the lot at a mill might work. Usually there are lifts of stickered lumber no one is dealing with behind saw mills. The top and edge rows can get pretty weathered.

    Re-using actual salvaged barn boards in an interior setting might be problematic. I know that as a kid I often painted the outside of the barn with all kinds of stuff, especially Chlordane. If the name of this insecticide is not familiar, it's because it was banned decades ago, because it's way toxic to people. Instead of throwing hazardous waste in the dump, we would paint the barn with it. This was normal.

  9. #9
    There are usually several reclaimed lumber sellers in the rural ares surround cities. You should be able to source more than enough pine/doug fir/hemlock to mill up to make the doors and not have to "distress" the material. It often looks contrived anyway, especially if not done a lot.
    And get about double the material needed, defecting the stock runs a high waste factor

  10. #10
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    One of my hardwood dealers offers barn wood. It is real -- old and weathered and full of defects. They want $12 per board foot for it!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gibney View Post
    Good point about the mid-rails. However, how securely can I attach the surface boards? They'll be 4" - 6" wide. They'll expand and contract a little, right?
    Can I glue them securely with, say, yellow glue?
    And do I need to leave a very small gap?

    Never made one of these doors before. Thanks.
    Yes, each board will expand and contract a tiny bit. If you butt the boards together, it will be enough to cause trouble. But if you leave a gap -- like 1/32" between -- you'll be okay. A convenient gap gauge is a credit card. It is tough and slippery so it can be yanked out after you fasten a board on.

    If you're concerned about light coming through the gaps, look up shiplap construction.

    In fine furniture, you'd glue the boards on so there would be no exposed fasteners. For a "barn door", nails might be appropriate. They'd be faster than waiting for all that glue to dry. And that's how a real barn door would have been built.

  12. #12
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    Thanks Jamie.

  13. #13
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    When I think of sliding barn doors I see Z or X bracing in an exposed frame and vertical planks/sheating. For a modern/midcentury modern/European/California style the horizontal distressed sheating would look great. If a designer didn't spec the 2 1/2" thickness I'd think that is a little thick unless it matches the scale of other features in the home. Will you keep the "sandwiched" vertical edges exposed or cover with trim? If you cover the edges you could mill the sheating to 1/2", use 3/4" internal frame stock if a thinner look is better. Structurally, top and bottom rails, two edge and one central stiles would keep the sheating flat and support the vertical load. John Jordan's suggestion of sandblasting works well and I use ground walnut shells--from Harbor Freight--to clean up natural edge slabs and add texture to the surface. I use my sand blasting gun and just stick the venturi hose into the box. Don't need a fancy blaster system. EZPEEZY. Do the blasting outside--makes a mess inside and you'll be combing it out of your hair for a while. I have stained the stock first, then "artistically texturized" the surface for both color and surface finish so you can play with the distressed look as you go. Sounds like a fun commission and remember to post pics when done. JCB

  14. #14
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    Thanks John, I like the idea of sandblasting with walnut shells. Guess I'll see if my local Harbor Freight has what I need right now.

  15. #15
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    Better have a big a$$ compressor. Using a sandblaster is like cutting the end off your air hose. It takes a mountain of air.

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