Barn Door Guide Slot - Router Forums
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 09-19-2016, 07:39 PM Thread Starter
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Default Barn Door Guide Slot

I'm in the process of building an interior barn door for a bathroom, approximately 29" X 82". The door is kept from swinging in / out as it travels left / right on the tracks above by means of a "rib" guide screwed to the floor. This floor guide fits into a slot on the bottom of the door.

The hardware instructions call for a 1/4" wide slot approximately 3/4" deep that runs along the length of the bottom of the door. Most of the 3 & 4 wing slot cutter profiles I've found are only able to cut 9/16" deep - still too shallow.

I'm trying to think of the best option to cut this slot - spiral upcut bit with a few passes to get the depth, or maybe a standard 1/4" two flute bit with the same method?

Also, given the height of the door I think it would be easiest to perform the cut with the door laying flat on my workbench as opposed to standing it up and working from a ladder.

One last option is since the slot will fall in the middle of a joint (the door slats and frame face glued / pinned together), maybe two separate rabbets on each board before assembly?

I have a router table (although not really a viable option) as well as standard size and mini portable routers. I have an edge guide for the larger router and could use some scrap around the shop to build up the standoff enough to get the bit centered in the bottom of the door and give myself a good foundation for the router base. The only problem I could see with this method is holding the router horizontally to make the cut might be somewhat awkward.

Any thoughts on the best way to make this cut? Thanks!
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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 09-19-2016, 08:17 PM
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look to getting a much smaller diameter bearing for the slot cutter... that'll give you a deeper cut...
you say rabbet.. will the rabbets face each other to give you your dado/slot???

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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 09-19-2016, 09:05 PM Thread Starter
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Do you think a smaller bearing would get me to 3/4" depth of cut? For example, the Whiteside 6710A 3 wing cutter has an OD of 1-7/8" and will accept a 5/16" arbor. Subtracting out the arbor and dividing by two leaves 25/32"; but this only accounts for the arbor, not the nut or bearing that would clear the flats on the nut - which I think would be too large to leave the 3/4" needed. Please check my math...

Yes, since I'm basically face joining two boards at the bottom of the door I could make a 3/4" rabbet 1/8" deep on each board and face them together during assembly to make the groove.
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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 09-19-2016, 10:09 PM
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Attach the guide to the bottom of the door and make a groove in the floor (preferably by using two pieces of flat stock and leaving the proper gap between them). You will not like stepping on the guide if you attach it to the floor.
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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 09-19-2016, 11:07 PM
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Hmm, in 75 years, I don't recall ever seeing or hearing of any barn doors swinging out, they just slid back and forth. Did I miss something, or is this in a motor coach, or something?

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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 09-20-2016, 05:37 AM
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I guess the issue with putting the groove in the floor would be that it would tend to trap dirt and debris, and potentially jam the door.

If you can make the slot before assembling the door, that would undoubtedly be the way to go IMO.

Failing that, maybe someone might know of a US supplier of a large enough slotting bit. There is a UK firm that supplies a 60mm slotter that can cut up to 22mm (7/8") deep:
Wealden Tool Company Limited Groover 60
Wealden Tool Company Limited Arbor 8

Last edited by AndyL; 09-20-2016 at 05:40 AM.
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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 09-20-2016, 08:10 AM
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I just did this same job in April. I used the slot cutter bit in a laminate trim router. My door was cedar so it cut easier than a hardwood.
The groove doesn't need to be a full 3/4" Look at the plastic guide you screw to the ground and realize that your door will not ride tight along the floor. So you take the height of the guide minus the gap between the guide and the floor to figure the depth you really need. The slot cutter you have will probably work.
If the slot cutter really is not deep enough then I would suggest using that to cut out most of the wood, then switch to a spiral bit as you suggested, using it just to take out the last bit of the trench. On the doors I installed the guide was tapered so the deepest part of the trench could be slightly narrower than the rest of it without issue.
If you can plan ahead and cut rabbits in the two pieces to create the trench then that sounds like a simple answer too.
The plastic guide failed about 4 months after installation because of the kids being rough with the door. I replaced the plastic one with a custom fabricated steel version. I started with 1/4" flat bar and welded it together. I warned the customer that if the kids continue to be rough with the door the new point of failure will be the bottom plank of the door, not the plastic guide.
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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 09-20-2016, 08:26 AM
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Sometime since then I built a jig for my trim router that would have made the slot cut procedure easier and more secure. This is a modification of a design for a edge banding trim jig. I think it was from woodsmith shop.
Screw the router to the top of the plexi and adjust the wood fence to the right depth. The fence takes the place of the bearing or at least does much of the same work. The key advantage to this design is the handle and large platform under it, gives lost of surface area to the face of the door, elminating rocking or tilting the router.
One could create another modified version with a taller (thicker) fence to use with that spiral bit you are thinking about using. With a large enough platform on the end and face of the door you could very easily and safely lay the door down and hold the router horizontal to make the cut.
In your place, I would first use the rabbit cut pre glue-up idea. Second option would be to build a new jig to hold the face and end of the door while holding the router horizontal with the spiral bit. I would choose this second because of all the fun it would be designing the jig
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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 09-20-2016, 09:12 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the replies - it's a concrete floor with tile, so cutting the floor is probably not an option. And JOAT you're correct, the bottom guide is in place to keep the door from swinging in / out since the door is suspended from rollers on a track.

Everend - thank you for the insight, it's invaluable to hear the perspective and associated learning from someone who has completed the same job. The jig is a great idea, but I don't see this cut taking place more than once in the near future so it will probably be more efficient to utilize a slot cutter to my own measurements or the rabbet approach. I could even use my router table for that one if need be.
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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 09-20-2016, 10:43 AM
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The overhead runners that hold the door are threaded studs. cut the slot as deep as is easy for you, then raise /lower the door to fit on the overhead screws.

option two is to cut the top of the door if its too high.

option three (my favourite).... cut the floor guide down to fit your slot.
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