How to: Sliding Barn Door Hardware

When I decided to rehang an old sliding barn door on my garage, there wasn’t much out there on how to DIY your own hardware. These folks helped:

Instructables‘ sliding barn door with skateboard wheels. So impressive! And materials that could be used outside. Still, I was dubious skateboard wheels would look well with my 1947 cottage look. Yet it got me thinking about what other wheely type items might work.

Addicted 2 Decorating had a GREAT parts list and picture to go with it, which got me looking at plumbing materials and brought the project in around an impressive $60. For my outdoor use though, bottom-mount wheels weren’t going to work on my bumpy, often cluttered surface. I needed a top hanging solution.

Design the Life You Want to Live uses pretty custom made wood wheels, which they also sell. More than I wanted to spend with this project but if I were doing an inside project, would be worth considering.

Chalk Paint!

Beautiful bones + ugly finish? Chalk paint!

Many, many thanks to In My Own Style for making chalk paint accessible to me! Diane Henkler gives you three different recipes so you can mix it up depending on what you have around. I appreciate also that she gives her take on which ones work best. I keep it simple (the calcium carbonate+water version) because I just never seem to have the other stuff on hand and it has worked great so far on a couple of chairs, shelving and a fake electric fireplace in the basement.

If you haven’t used chalk paint before, its big draw for me is that you can paint with it even on glossy surfaces without having to strip off the sheen (but I think a light sanding is still a good idea). It has other benefits including a lovely flat finish, that you can write on it in chalk, and how nicely it takes wax.

If you don’t want to mix your own, premade ones from Annie Sloan and CeCe Caldwell get the best reviews. For me right now, being able to inexpensively mix and test my own makes all kinds of things possible. Thanks Diane and all the other bloggers who have showcased their chalk paint projects.

Picture Frame Jewelry Organizers: Easy, Pretty and Fun

Hey, we’re almost halfway through the year! If you’ve got a big gift list for the holidays, its time to start thinking DIY now.

This project met all aspects of my DIY gift code, especially these:

  • Pretty
  • Useful
  • Something I’d want
  • Not too heavy to ship
  • Fun to make
  • Possible to make in advance

Jewelry is beautiful art. But when it’s stuck in a box, you don’t get to see it enough. Plus I wanted to cut the clutter on top of my dresser. Enter the picture frame jewelry organizer. I made two for me and loved them so much I decided to make jewelry organizers a main holiday gift for family and friends.

 

Turns out I needed four jewelry organizers . . .
Turns out I needed four jewelry organizers . . .
Necklace jewelry organizer
Necklace jewelry organizer: s hooks are used to hang the necklaces

 

Earring jewelry organizer
Earring jewelry organizer. Ideal for fish hook earrings. S hooks can be used for other types of loops. Won’t work for posts.

 

Budget: to make two for myself with thrifted frames, I spent about $15, excluding the cost of tin snips, so about $7.50 each. But it’s possible to spend more depending on your materials choice. When I got into manufacturing mode and was buying bigger sheets, the cost came down to $3-6 each.

Timing: summer and fall I added empty picture frames to my thrift store check list and accumulated the ones I needed at the right prices. I also started searching for metal sheets/radiator sheets to use in the frames. Since I was spray painting some of the frames, it was most ideal to be able to do this outside, before the cold set in, so that was the urgency in finding the frames. Once it got cold, I hit thrift stores for inexpensive jewelry. For this, the gift was the organizer, not the jewelry, but I wanted to include at least one item with the organizer so the recipients would know what it was.

Shopping list: here’s the snapshot list. Still, do scan the details below to save some cash and time on this project.

  1. Frames without glass
  2. Paint or spray paint (optional)
  3. Radiator grill sheet(s) also known as “metal sheets” or “aluminum sheets.”
  4. Small s hooks (optional, for necklaces)
  5. Thrift store find jewelry
  6. Tin snips or other scissors that easily cut sheet metal

To do these as gifts the way I did, you will need:

  • Frames without glass.  These are sometimes as cheap as $0.50 at thrift stores. I focused on wood, avoiding metals. Go for frames that have a little projection from the wall. Here’s why: you’re going to hang jewelry in the face of the frame so you creating a little distance between front and the wall prevents your earrings from hitting the wall. If you’re going to buy new frames, watch for sales, and make a budget – remember, when you buy new, you’re also paying for glass you don’t need. If you’re shipping gifts, keep manageable size in mind.  The easiest frames to work with are the ones that have little tabs holding the glass in place (see below). You’ll ditch the glass but the tabs are perfect for holding the metal sheet. However, if they don’t have little tabs, you can still wedge the metal sheet inside the frame securely. If you’d like to make a frame, Ana White’s great blog has a post on barnwood frames that would work well for about $1.50 each
  • Paint or spray paint, if you want to change the color. I focused on black and white with a couple of silver frames. For this project, I only used spray paint
  • Radiator grill sheet(s) also known as “metal sheets” or “aluminum sheets.” The sources I used were Michael’s (with a Retailmenot coupon code – but be aware, these are in store and not shown on the Michael’s site. They’re about $11-14 without the coupon for a smallish — about 12″x24″– sheet so bring that coupon!), ACE Hardware (pretty choices though not super cheap, about $25-$30 for a larger sheet), and Home Depot (the most cost effective — $22.78!– for a 3×3′ aluminum sheet but limited pattern choices). These come in both a silver and gold finish. I used silver but the gold is chic these days. What’s right for you will depend on how many you want to make — see below.   Some notes on choosing:.

a) The cloverleaf and star patterns are most readily available and work well. If you choose a pattern with narrower openings like this oriental one below, it can be hard to get earrings with their backers through the spaces. So the tighter patterns are best used for necklaces with small s hooks.

Necklace jewelry organizer. Holes in this pattern are too tight for earrings.
Necklace jewelry organizer. Holes in this pattern are too tight for earrings with backers but little s hooks work fine.

b) Rustic look note: you could use chicken wire for a farmhouse sort of look, either in a single or double layer. This is often very cheap at used building goods outlets. I got a roll for only $3 but the look was less polished and it wasn’t as easy to work with my always-torn up hands as the aluminum sheets.

c) MD is a leading manufacturer of these sheets. They seem to sell mostly through retailers but the choices on their site (page down) are fun to browse.

MD Metal Sheet: this is the spendy version you can get at craft stores like Michael's
MD Metal Sheet: this is the spendy small version you can get at craft stores like Michael’s.
  •  Small s hooks (about $1.20 for a pack of eight at True Value). You need these if you want to use your organizer to hang necklaces.
  • Thrift store find jewelry: for earrings, you want fish hook style.
  • Tin snips or other scissors that can cut thin metal (available at craft and home improvement stores). I kinda balked at investing in tin snips but I am glad now that I did: I seem to use mine for something every week. Here’s where a Retailmenot coupon at Michael’s also is a big help (about $7.50 with a 50% off coupon). These are also available from home stores and Amazon (here are my Tekton snips on Amazon, about $9).

Let’s get started: The basics of this project are that you’re going to replace any glass with a metal sheet cut to slightly over the size of the frame opening. It’s that simple! A step-by-step follows.

  1. Take your frame and get it clean and pretty: pop out any glass and set aside
  2. If you’re painting you frame, do it now
  3. If your frame came with a mat, use that as your pattern to measure out the size to cut your metal sheet insert, adding 1/4 inch on each side. If no mat, measure your frame’s opening and add 1/2 inch to your measurement on each side. Basically you want a 1/4 inch excess on all sides so it fits securely in the opening. Also, this gives you the chance to let the metal protrude from the frame a little, which can look and work great.  If you’re cutting multiple inserts, lay as many out as possible on your metal sheet so you can eyeball how it all fits together as shown below:
    Here's mats are laid out on the sheet to make sure we get as many as possible out of one sheet.
    Here mats are laid out on the sheet to make sure we get as many as possible out of one sheet.

    Use a pen to mark off one insert at a time or just do a quick snip with your tin snips and cut along the line. Remember to go slightly big since you can always make it smaller later. Also, do one at a time instead of tracing them all at once. As you cut, things will shift slightly and you don’t want unnecessary marks, especially if you’re using a Sharpie!

  4. Cut your inserts using your tin snips

    Golly I love my tin snips!
    Golly I love my tin snips!
  5. Install your inserts into each frame from the back. If there are any little mat holders, flip them back down to keep the sheet firmly in place.

    Notice how the inserts that used to hold the mat in now hold the metal sheet
    Notice how the little black tab inserts that used to hold the mat in now hold the metal sheet?
  6. You are done. No joke.Silver painted frame

    Jewelry organizers, ready to wrap
    Jewelry organizers, ready to wrap

One more note: you might end up with some extra strips of the flat metal sheets. Hang onto them! They can be used to wrap a votive or for other small projects.

So what about you? What’s your favorite DIY holiday gift this year? Do you struggle with mass production AND personalization the way I do?

Note: the links here are for your convenience. No compensation to me for either the supplier listings or following the links.

Upgrading the Guest Room Lighting

Phase One: The builder’s grade nipple light needed to go. It would be fine in many settings but in this house, with such low ceilings, the dark light just drew attention to the lowness of the ceiling and smallness of the room. Brightness wasn’t the first priority since the room also has table lamps for task lighting. But I wanted just a little prettiness, a little bling.

Builder grade nipple light installed all over the cottage. Craftsman look wrong for low ceilings and cottage style home
Builder grade nipple light installed all over the cottage. Craftsman look wrong for low ceilings and cottage style home

One habit I’m trying to form is to duck into the ReStore every time I hit the library since they’re in the same strip mall.  And it paid off!

I found this pretty little crystal chandelier for $10!

$10!!!
$10!!!
Vinegar and crystal, a powerful paring for sparkle
Vinegar and crystal, a powerful paring for sparkle
ReStore Chandelier installed
ReStore Chandelier installed

2015-06-05 22.11.00

Here are the cool spikes the guest room chandelier throws off at night.
Here are the cool spikes the guest room chandelier throws off at night.

What do you think?  I love its prettiness and the spears of light that it throws when on. Have you ever had a great thrift lighting find?

Thrifting Wish List

  • Black or dark grey garden hoses: I want them to disappear against the house but this house did come with a couple ugly bright green ones. Note: have tried spray painting one, we’ll see if it makes it through a whole season . . .
  • Barn door wheels, or barn door kit. Update: Found it!!!! $20 for two 1915 pulleys at an estate sale. Now it’s time to get that door hung: DIY Sliding Barn Door Hardware.

    $10 each! And I had to think twice about it!
    $10 each! And I had to think twice about it!
  • Folding luggage rack for guests: got cats, guest suitcases need to be off the ground. Amazon has one new for $20-$25. Update: Found it at the Youth Ranch thrift store for $4.
  • Gentleman’s Butler: I want a place to toss my clothes that I’ll probably wear again tomorrow. Don’t want it in the closet with the truly clean clothes. For now, maybe forever I’ll use the rickety but pretty chair Grandpa built. Love the valet idea but the chair is probably more functional. Will use that until . . .
  • Outdoor rocker: want, not a need, already have seating, this is to charm up the yard
  • Better lighting for guest room.  Currently a builder grade nipple light, which makes the ceiling look lower. Found at the ReStore for $10! Vintage chandelier

    $10!!!
    $10!!!
  •  Frames for jewelry organizers, no glass, wood. Got em! Prices ranged from $0.50-$5.
  • Pretty $5 wall mirrors, not cookie cutter. Three down! Still worth looking for
  • Fabulous planters, other outdoor
  • Tomato cage, obelisk, something to give that pesky seventh tomat some structure
  • Vintage light for foyer. Gotta be right priced. Found it! $10
  • Free dirt for the raised bed boxes I made from D&D’s gifted redwood
  • Crystals, real ones, to make a chandelier
  • Seriously great paper cutter
  • Excellent condition carpet shampooer
  • Super cheap but great old kitchen cabinets to expand workspace in garage workshop
  • Shop vac that actually works (mine is cursed)
  • Bike rack for garage, am sick of hoisting onto those huge hooks
  • Plants for landscaping, if free and pretty. Got some! Day lilies! Always want more.
  • Pavers to make a better front door path, grey, cottagy
  • Gas fireplace (stand-alone) for basement
  • New stove, gas or induction top. No falling off handle.
  • New fridge, bottom freezer. With all shelves and bins.
  • Trunk for base of bed in basement bedroom.
  • Lumber, cedar, redwood, handy size pine
  • American flag, if pretty. Found a lovely one at an estate sale for fifty cents!

    Only fifty cents at a garage sale. No icky poly, wonderful fabric.
    Only fifty cents at a garage sale. No icky poly, wonderful fabric.

 

DIY Sliding Barn Door Hardware aka Rewards of Thrifting with a Wish List and Open Mind

One nice thing about this 1947 cottage is the garage has two entrances, one of which was a cool looking — and working — sliding barn door. But the other door? A beat up old steel door that couldn’t actually close — and, because it was steel, couldn’t be trimmed to properly close. It also didn’t take paint too well.

This is the cool existing slider, which I'd already painted
This is the cool existing slider, which I’d already painted
This is the untrimmable steel door, scraped the concrete, rusting on the inside, not paint friendly and wouldn't close all the way
This is the untrimmable steel door, scraped the concrete, rusting on the inside, not paint friendly and wouldn’t close all the way

Because the back of the house faces the detached garage, I look at those two doors ALL the time. I tried sprucing up the view with outdoor furnishings and the like but since the bad door had to be propped open, you basically could always see inside the garage. Just not pretty.

One day I decided to poke around in the garage rafters in a hunt for some free lumber (I dwell in hope). Many cobwebs and displaced spiders later I discovered a door that matched my existing slider! Eureka! This beauty had obviously once possessed the exact hardware the existing door has but the old kit was nowhere to be found. And so the plot hatched: restore the dual sliders.

Old door pulled down from the rafters
Old door pulled down from the rafters

In my naivete, I assumed that sliding door hardware would be slightly more pricey than regular door mounting hardware. Oops.

Reality set in: sliding door kits that would allow me to remount the old door and sorta match the current one were not cheap. The stuff  from various vendors was pretty. Yet everything I could find was totally out of my $50 allocated for this project, around $150-$350 for a quality outdoor slider kit.

Next step: read a bunch of DIY posts. There were many where folks bought full kits and installed those.  These were fun to see yet mostly for inside sliders and out of my want-not-need budget.

Mostly the posts were about building custom or refreshing vintage doors. Great ideas but already I had the door. I needed to get that bad boy up without spending more than $50. Also, this project required outdoor quality hardware whereas a lot of the pretty hardware kits were for inside use. The most useful two posts from searching on “DIY barn door hardware” were:

Instructables‘ sliding barn door with skateboard wheels. So impressive! And materials that could be used outside. However, I decided skateboard wheels would not look well with my 1947 cottage look. Yet it got me thinking about what other wheely type items might work — and I added “some kind of barn door wheel/pulley” to my thrifting wish list.

Addicted 2 Decorating had a GREAT parts list and picture to go with it, which got me looking at plumbing materials and brought the project in around an impressive $60. For my outdoor use though, bottom-mount wheels weren’t going to work on my bumpy, often cluttered surface. I needed a top hanging solution. But I would totally use their plans inside.

Design the Life You Want to Live uses pretty custom made wood wheels, which they also sell. More than I wanted to spend with this project but if I were doing an inside project, would be worth considering.

Fast forward five months, which means about 60+ yard and estate sales visited with my dream finds list hovering in the back of my mind. And then, at this one estate sale in the garden tools pile, I looked over and saw:

Two pulleys from a North End home, circa 1915. Owners said they were used to hoist a wheel chair up and down stairs!
Two pulleys from a North End home, circa 1915. Owners said they were used to hoist a wheel chair up stairs!
$10 each! And I had to think twice about it!
$10 each! And I had to think twice about it!

For $20, my wheel problem might be solved. With the rustic look, I thought they’d go okay with the cottage exterior, even though my two doors would not be matchy matchy. And I loved that they came from an old local home.

Next it was time to assemble the the rest of the hanging kit. Top of the list would be to find some kind of plate I could add to the door that could handle the fat hooks and be tough enough.

For once I did what you’re always supposed to do and rummaged around my nearby ReStore for something that might work. In the framing hardware area, I stumbled on two long, sturdy metal slats(?) with big holes punched in them. They’re used for something in construction – another customer in the checkout line said they’d be priced at $45 each new. So big, they were definitely overkill for my project but I couldn’t beat the price: $5 for two. And I just loved that feeling of thrifty re-purposing.

What are these?  I dunno. The guy at the store said they cost $40 new. ReStore charged me $5.
What are these? I dunno. A guy at the store said they cost $45 new. ReStore charged me $5. Most important, they passed the fat hook/matching hole test.

Next, it was time to paint the new old door using leftover accent paint from my DIY house painting job.

 

Home Depot isn't paying me but I gotta say, I love the coverage oin this Behr Marquee stuff.
Home Depot isn’t paying me but I gotta say, I love the coverage on this Behr Marquee stuff.

And once that was done, it was time to measure the door, the opening and the wall space I had to work with. Next I went to see the knowledgeable guys at the nearby True Value.  I had the shopping list from Addicted 2 Decorating and walked out of there with:

  • Two galvanized iron floor flanges (1/2″),
Floor flanges
Floor flanges

 

Two four-inch nipples (1/2″)

4" nipples

 

Two elbows (1/2″)

One 8′ conduit pipe (1/2″), custom cut and threaded (I learned that means they put the little grooves in the ends).

Elbows and conduit
Elbows and conduit

Now it was time to measure, measure and remeasure. It turned out I made the pipe too long so I had to trek back to the store and get it cut and re-threaded. This added another $1.30 to the project, a super bargain.  (Yes, I was ready to buy a whole new conduit pipe. I am that ignorant.) Then, I had to make sure that the rail mounting height would be high enough to handle my pulleys, the door hardware and the door itself.

Next I mounted the pipe/rail, which was the trickiest part of the project after all the measuring. Here’s why: 1) I wanted to do the whole thing all by myself. Having a second person would have made it easier since there was a lot of weight to balance during the install but this adventure is mostly about doing stuff on my own. So I used my painting ladder to prop up the rail wherever I needed a second pair of hands. 2) The guys at the store told me to expect the rail to bow a little. If my pulleys/wheels were normal weight, it would not be a problem but the vintage pulleys were really heavy — about 20-30lbs each. So no matter how level I managed to make it, it wouldn’t look perfect. (The guys at the store nixed my brilliant idea of strengthening the conduit by inserting some rebar: said it wouldn’t help with the sag.) Still, I told myself, one step at a time and all that.

First flange in and nipple screwed in.
First flange in and nipple screwed in. Why is a straight little piece of pipe called a nipple?
First elbow added
First elbow added
What the elbow looks like from the outside
What the elbow looks like from the outside
Now the conduit screwed into the first elbow
Now the conduit screwed into the first elbow
And now the tricky part: threading the pulleys on and propping it all up while I installed the second flange.
And now the tricky part: threading the pulleys on and propping it all up with the ladder while I installed the second flange.
Two pulleys threaded
Two pulleys threaded

After that, I screwed in the second elbow. Next, I installed the second flange.  While I’d marked it off at 7′, I had to be prepared to adjust the length slightly because the elbows, nipples and conduit screwed in altogether ended up with a slightly different length. Once elbow #2 was in, I could tell where the second flange should go. Last, I screwed the second nipple into the flange and elbow at the same time. I wasn’t really sure how or if that would work but somehow it did.

Now it was time to test the mystery door hanger part on the pulleys. As you can see, once there’s weight on the hook, it flips the pulley so it rides on top of the conduit.

Testing they mystery part that will be used to hang the doors
Testing they mystery part that will be used to hang the doors

After that, I propped the door up under the pulleys to make sure the measurements still worked and the door would hang level.

Door propped up under the pulleys.
Door propped up on scrap lumber under the pulleys.

I attached the door in place. This is probably not the best way to do it however, I was working solo and it was all getting very, very heavy. I just didn’t trust my back to hold up to trying to raise up and hang the door on the hooks the door once the hanging hardware was mounted. Guess this is another spot where a second pair of hands could have helped. Still, according to my level, that door got installed level. Still, you’ll see from the conduit sag that it’s not perfectly level. Most important: finally it was in!

Door installed!
Door installed!

I was pretty excited and relieved at this point. I took a big step back and . . .

Two sliding doors, sadly not charmingly mismatched
Two sliding doors, sadly not charmingly mismatched

It did not look fabulous. The functionality, yes, it worked. But my cool vintage pulleys seemed lost next to the too shiny silver hanging slats. I’m not a fan of painting hardware but in this case . . . my friend Kate agreed. I thought about just scuffing the slats to take out the shine but they’d still be vast. Time to whip out the spray paint.

Done!
Done!
Not matchy matchy sliders but okay for now
Not matchy matchy sliders but okay for now

So that’s it!

I love it! It hides the ugly stuff inside the garage, opens easily, stays where ever I put it and is fun to look at.  Also in this last photo, I’ve added a door pull (for convenience, looks) and a stay roller on the bottom (for stability, to keep the bottom of the door against the garage).

Looking back/better next time:

The main three things I did right were:

  1. rummage in the rafters to find a free door
  2. look for online advice
  3. stayed open to alternatives for conventional sliding door wheels

If I had the scratch — and someday I might — the one thing I’d do differently is talk to a metal fabricator (or blacksmith?) about getting a sturdy replacement for the conduit, which does sag under the weight of the heavy pulleys. Maybe over time it will bother me that the two doors don’t have matching hardware and I’ll redo the whole thing with a pre-made kit. But right now I’m really happy with it. I got the functionality I want and the whole thing was really pretty fun.

I did overspend against the $50 budget. Percentage-wise, by a lot, 22%. In dollars, less than $15.

Project costs summary:

  • Door: $0, found in garage rafters
  • Paint: $0, leftover from house painting
  • Wood screws for hardware mounting: $0, leftover
  • Two vintage roller/pulleys: $20, ($10 each), estate sale
  • Two 4″ nipples: $3.18, ($1.59 each), True Value Hardware
  • Two elbows: $1.98, ($0.99 each), True Value Hardware
  • Two floor flanges: $4.98     ($2.49 each), True Value Hardware
  • 1/2″ conduit plumbing pipe cut to 8′ length: $13.75
  • Re-cut and re-thread pipe to 7′ length: $1.30
  • Two re-purposed door hanging hardware metal things: $5 ($2.50 each), ReStore/Habitat for Humanity
  • Stay roller, $7.99, Mintcraft through Amazon
  • 6.5″ door pull, $6.17, National Hardware through Amazon
  • Black spray paint, $0, leftover from another project

Total project cash outlay: $64.35

So, I went $14.35 over my project goal — more than 22%, urg. With better measuring I could have saved $1.30. Also, I could have skipped the door pull ($6.17) –or gotten a smaller one– and not bothered with a stay roller ($7.99). All of that would have brought the project in at $48.89. Yet still, in real dollars, that $64 is not a lot.

Would you ever try this project this way? I get that my vintage pulleys at $10 each were a real find but a quick search on eBay for pulley shows that they are out there and available (I’ve seen several that could be used the same way listed at $9.99).

One note: if you’re thinking of sliders outside, know generally these aren’t going to be tight fitting the way a normal door would be. That works for me because I wanted doors that would hide the garage mess and block things blowing in when closed. But in the high desert, dry climate here, air tight isn’t a necessity. For locking, you can add a simple latch and use a lock as shown on my pre-existing slider.

A basic latch like this can be secured with a simple combination or key lock. Not as convenient as an ordinary door key but it works in this setting.
A basic latch like this can be secured with a simple combination or key lock. Not as convenient as an ordinary door key but it works in this setting.

Feedback? What would you have done differently? Have you done a DIY barn door? Outside or in? Regrets or gloats? I’d love to hear it all.

Thanks for reading!

 

Hello World!

Flying under the radar just now . . . this is an draft version of my blog. It’s public so I can get some feedback from advisors and friends on the architecture and content but it’s not ready for prime time. If you want to jump in and share your opinion, please do! In advance, thanks for your understanding.

—————

Welcome to my nesting blog. Here’s how I’m making a home in this new-to-me little egg house at the foothills of the Rockies. Here’s how I’m trying to figure out the next chapters a life that has not quite gone according to plan. I hope you’ll join me on the ride.

More about me: tight budget vs lofty ambitions. Some days I meet the challenge, others feel like epic fails. I believe that living in a beautiful, happy space extends to your whole world. That world includes a home shared a bunch of creatures, who often pose a design challenge. It also includes fabulous family and friends.

This life didn’t turn out the way I thought it would. Each day is a challenge to regain my stride. Gone are my executive days of hiring a professional for every job or just buying what I think I need whenever I want it. These are the days of figuring it out for myself, coming up with alternatives, and sometimes just making do with less. Good for my character, hard on my ego! Yet as they say, the only thing you can do is start from here. Let’s make it fun.