barn door diy

Ever since we moved into our house a bit more than a year ago and realized that we wouldn’t be able to knock the wall between the front room and the rest of the main floor down, I’ve wanted to get a barn door put in. This desire reached something of a fever pitch once we got the cats and it became my life’s work to keep an eye on them so that I could get them trained on which surface were and were not appropriate for them to be on1.

The husband was not on board until just recently, when I was finally able to explain to him my desire that it be something of a work of art in its own right, and not just an elaborate means to herd the cats out of rooms where I don’t want them.

Once I finally had him caught up to my vision of the thing, he became very enthusiastic. Squabbles ensued as we debated what, exactly, we were going to do to make it beautiful. That we would burn something into the door was not up for question. Which images we would use totally was. I was initially in favor of using either some elaborate Celtic knotwork or the Aperture Science logo, as either of those things would fit with the existing decor2. The husband said no, we needed something to do with welcoming people to the house on the one side, since it’s the first thing they’ll see when the enter the house.

“Speak friend and enter?” I suggested.

In Elvish script, we agreed. And thus the project began with my trying to figure out how to get the Elvish script loaded as a font and then there was some more trial and error to actually get the correct sequence of things entered on the keyboard.

Elvish Translations

After that, we put together the imaged we wanted using GIMP and then saved the files to a flash drive before taking ourselves off to a local copy shop to get everything printed on a wide format printer.

print out

Once that was done (and the boards and hardware for hanging the door were purchased), I set about cutting out a giant stencil using the paper print outs and an exacto knife. Thank God for audio books, because that part was a wee bit tedious.

ready to stencil

While I was doing that, the husband was assembling the door, which also seemed tedious to me, but I don’t have any patience for that sort of thing at all, so I’m very glad he does.

Then, of course, it was time for tracing, which was probably the easiest part of the whole process, and the final thing to complete before we were ready to BURN.

ready to burn

Burning was extremely pleasant. Since the boards are a lovely blue pine, the smoke the wafted up was fragrant and even soothing. The burning itself was something of an aid in the constant struggle against anxiety. It was almost like having a really big, slightly dangerous adult coloring book (I may have burned my fingers once or twice, being careless with the tools).

burning

We set up in our living room and would listen to either audio books or something on television that didn’t require any concentration3. While our friends from Chicago were in town, we would all hang out and talk and take turns burning. Talk about your wild and crazy parties.

Once both sides were done – oh, have I not mentioned the other side? – the husband hauled it out back and sanded the whole thing, paying special attention to any areas where we accidentally got outside the lines. Then we gave it one more once-over to darken any spots that needed it.

About a month after beginning, we got the barn door hardware up (purchased as a kit from a hardware store, rather than making our own, though we considered that) and mounted the door.

BEHOLD the final product in all its glory!

Speak Friend and Enter

Tolkien's "Speak Friend and Enter" in Elvish & White Tree of Gondor & Celtic Knotwork Barn Door Far View

Life before death - Strength before weakness - Journey before destination

Life before death - Strength before weakness - Journey before destination

Why yes, I am a big Brandon Sanderson fan, thank you for noticing.4

And that’s it! By far, it was one of the most enjoyable projects we’ve done since moving in (see the floors, paint [ALL OF THE PAINT EVEN THE CEILINGS], trim, ceiling fan and window treatments for examples of other projects that have occurred), and I’m planning on using some of the leftover pine scraps to create some smaller art pieces both for myself and possibly for other people.

But that’ll be a post for another day.

  1. Dining room table and kitchen counters, no. Couches, fine. Floors, I suppose. If you must.
  2. I guess we’re a little eclectic, but it works for us!
  3. Did a Friends marathon for many of the hours spent burning, but also some comedians
  4. Since the door is so light, the husband and I joked about cosplaying as Bridge 4 members, using the door as the bridge. Probably we won’t do this, but I feel like we would be forever known as the door people.

6 thoughts on “barn door diy

  1. I…I don’t even have words for this. My mouth was literally hanging open for most of the post. If you *do* cosplay as Bridge 4 members, I volunteer to be a crew member. I’ll even run at the front!

    1. Haha! I’m glad you like it! It was certainly a fun project to do and I’m thrilled with the results.

      Sounds like we’ll get to be doing more of this sort of thing in the future as well. The husband posted pictures of it on various subreddits and people there have asked about getting some similar items made. If/when that actually happens, I’ll be sure to share pics!

    1. Thank you! Thanks to the husband and all his posts about it in various places, we not only got some commissions, we also got Brandon Sanderson himself to say that yes, we can be the barn door people. Maybe now he’ll recognize us from signing to signing, haha.

  2. Absolutely Beautiful….We just put up our barn doors and will be using them to hide our pantry. I want to burn something on it and have been trying to get some ideas. I thought about putting Ball Mason Jars on it? Your barn doors just blew me away they are so detailed and incredible looking. I’m sure people are taken back when they see what you have done congratulations!!

    1. Well, thank you! It was certainly a fun project and went a lot more smoothly than I had anticipated! Whatever you end up deciding on, my advice would be to go forth with confidence and the best wood burning kit you can afford to get! Having a variety of tips will give you so much more control over how it turns out, especially if you need some fine details. Also, we’ve done some smaller pieces since the door using the same tongue and groove wood and it’s easier to put it together, sketch out the outline and then take it apart again. If you don’t have grooves to worry about, it’l be even easier!

      Good luck!

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