How to Build a Dutch Barn Door

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Getting fresh air
Getting fresh air (Image: Pferdestall mit herausschauendem Pferd image by Udo Kruse from Fotolia.com)

A Dutch door adds rustic charm to any dwelling, but in a horse barn its purpose is practical as well. Since the door is divided in half horizontally and each section opens independently, it makes for a healthy environment by allowing light and ventilation into the stall with the top section open and providing security when the lower section is closed. Also, opening both sections is a quick and easy way to take the horse out without taking it through the barn. The horse may also feel less confined with the top section open, and yet remain secure in its own stall.

Things You'll Need

  • Table saw
  • Circular saw
  • Electric drill
  • Framing square
  • Woodworking clamps
  • Orbital sander
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Wood glue
  • Wood screws
  • Heavy-duty hinges
  • Door hardware
  • Lumber depending upon measurements
  • 5 pieces of 1-by-10 pine boards, 8 feet long
  • 4 pieces of 2-by-6 pine boards, 8 feet long

Preparation

Measure the opening (vertically and horizontally) where the door will be hung. Record the figures.

Cut the 1-by-10 boards the length of the vertical measurement. Be sure the cuts are square. Smooth the ends with the orbital sander. When placed upright side by side, they should completely fill the door opening. If one board causes them to exceed the horizontal width, remove the excess by cutting it lengthwise to complete a proper fit.

Cut four 2-by-6 boards according to the horizontal measurements. Smooth the ends and set aside.

Construction

Place the 1-by-10 boards side by side upon sawhorses. Clamp with pipe C-clamps 8 inches from both ends, thus drawing the boards tightly together. To find where to later divide the door, measure halfway down from the top of the vertical boards and mark it. Make another mark a quarter-inch up and a quarter-inch down from this middle mark.

Apply wood glue to one of the cut 2-by-6 horizontal boards. Clamp across the vertical boards flush with the top end. Repeat across the bottom end of the vertical boards.

Apply wood glue to the remaining two horizontal boards. Place one across the vertical boards with its bottom edge flush with the upper quarter-inch mark, and the other with its top flush with the lower quarter-inch mark. Clamp. Allow to dry completely (24 hours at least).

Screw one heavy-duty hinge into each horizontal board on the door, depending on which side you want the door to open.

Remove the clamps and turn the door over upon the sawhorses. Place two wood screws through each vertical board into the underlying horizontal boards.

Finish

Remove the door from the sawhorses and place it on the opening. Shims may be required to align the door properly. Once aligned, screw in the other half of each hinge into the door frame. Check for smooth movement.

Set up four sawhorses, two for what will be the lower unit of the door, and two for the top. Unscrew the hinges from the door frame, remove the door and set it back on the sawhorses with the dividing line up.

Saw the door in two along the middle mark. Smooth the edges.

Rehang the lower unit, checking its movement for any binding. Rehang the upper unit, checking for any binding.

Finish the wood with your choice of primer, paint or varnish. Allow to dry. Apply locks, latches and other ornamentation of your choice.

Tips & Warnings

  • This door can be hung with the horizontal boards on the inside or the outside. Also, adding outside accent wood can add to your style.
  • The two most popular woods used in Dutch doors are cedar and pine. Cedar is hardier, but costs about three times as much as pine.
  • Upper and lower sections of a Dutch door do not necessarily need to be equal--the ratio can be anything the builder decides.
  • The finished door will be quite heavy, so help may be needed while handling it.

References

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