Step 1

Choose the Location and Door

Determine the location, work required to prepare the existing opening or create a new opening* and door style. Cross buck doors emulate a vintage design, but old swing doors also make an incredible statement. The door needs to be least 2" wider and 1" taller than an existing cased opening. If creating a new opening, beef up the door or pad out the opening with wider trim. The vintage swing door used in this project could easily be found for about $50 at a yard sale or architectural salvage location.

For door shown, the original glass window was removed. A new window was cut 1/8" smaller than the opening, installed with clear silicon on the perimeter and framed in the original window trim. All door hardware was removed and saved for other projects. Straight blade razors were used to scrape away the old paint* and to give the door an ultra-smooth finish. The door was then rubbed with a furniture-grade paste wax. Clear polyurethane sealer could also be used.

The vintage door shown was only about 1" thick and smaller than the door opening. The door’s width and height were increased by installing salvaged 2x4s around the perimeter. Additional wood also produced a second color tone and place to mount hardware. The 2x4s were rabbeted out for the door thickness, glued, finish nailed and clamped overnight.

Pro Tip

When installing a new opening, be sure to check with a structural engineer, architect or licensed builder to ensure that the proper headers are installed for load-bearing walls. For non-bearing partition walls, use at least a double 2x6 on which to mount the track.

Be careful when working with items painted prior to 1979, as they might contain lead-based paint. Be sure to consult the EPA's Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools pamphlet before disturbing any paint that could contain lead. Building materials produced prior to 1983 should also be tested for asbestos. Contact a local building official for exact requirements.

Step 2

Select the Wheels

Select the Wheels

Photo by: Darren Setlow Photography, LLC

Darren Setlow Photography, LLC

Select the Wheels

For project shown, cast-iron wheels were sourced at a local metal salvage yard for $10 apiece. These wheels were originally mounted to the face of a door and rode on a floor-mounted half-round piece of metal track. Although rusty, the wheels were still fully operational and revealed a nice black oxide patina when brushed with a wire wheel. Rust behind the wheel added an interesting color tone. DIY hangers were required to top mount (hang) the door.

Step 3

Prepare the Track

Off-the-shelf metal stock, including angle iron and carriage bolts, was used for this project. With a 3' door opening, a 6' piece of track is required for full operation of the door. If wheel grooves are small enough, they can ride directly on the angle iron. Since wheels shown had approximately a 1" diameter scallop to the riding surface, the track required a rounded top. One-inch metal building tension rod, purchased at a local metal salvage yard, was cut to length and the ends bent with a torch to prevent the wheels from rolling off the track. A simple Z-shaped bracket placed on the wall as a stop would also work. Next, the rod was tacked with a 1" weld every 1' on the back. A salvage yard may tackle this job for you.

The two pieces of angle iron will be oriented so they form a "U" channel. Total track depth will be less than 2" so the door fits tight against the wall. To create channel, offset the two pieces of track for the correct depth and clamp each end with vice grips. With a spring-loaded punch, center punch four holes at 6", 2', 4' and 5' 6". Drill through center punch with a stepped drill bit to 1/2" diameter. By using a 1/2" hole and 5/16" carriage bolts, adjustment may be made later to ensure a good fit.

Take the angle iron without the welded rod to the door opening to mark the mounting holes. This piece will be mounted to the wall and must be drilled to anchor it into solid wood. Locate studs past the opening. Using a tape and pencil, mark the approximate location of the door track on the wall. Using a stud finder, locate all the studs within the track span past the door opening. Measure the distance from the end of the track to the stud locations and mark this on the angle iron. Place three equally spaced bolts in the door header. Place one bolt into each stud. Drill the marked holes in the angle iron to 1/2". Do not drill holes into the wall at this time.

Step 4

Make Hangers

Mock up the track with the 1" carriage bolts and the wheel to measure the distance from the wheel-mounting surface to the back of the track (wall plane).

Using this simple formula, calculate the horizontal leg needed on your hanger:
Horizontal leg = (wall trim depth 1/4" door thickness) – (mounting surface to wall)

Project shown did include wall trim; the leg length was about 1-3/4". The hanger has three legs: the vertical wheel mount, a horizontal offset and the vertical door mount. Dimensions were roughly 1-3/4", 1-3/4", and 9" respectively. The bottom leg only needed to be long enough to cover the top 4" trim band of the door (appr. 9" total length). This leg should be cut long and trimmed after test fitting the door. Add these three lengths up, add 2" and cut the flat strap into four pieces. Scribe your first measurement using a square across the flat strap. Clamp securely into a vice with the mark appr. 1/16" above the vice jaws. Pulling slightly on the top of the strap, tap the strap near the vice jaw with the sledgehammer until a 90-degree bend is formed*. Do this for the second bend, noting the correct direction. Mark and drill the top hole (for the wheel) to 1/2". Loosely bolt the hangers to the wheels.

Pro Tip

Applying heat to the flat strap will allow it to bend more easily.

Step 5

Mount the Track

With a helper, level and mark the wall-mounting track at the correct height. In our case, we wanted only about 1/2" from the top of the door to the track and 1/2" from bottom of the door to the floor. Check both ends of the track for distance to the floor and use the shorter side. The track must be level (so the door doesn't roll) and not necessarily parallel to the floor. It is not uncommon for older floors to have some slope. Using a stud finder and small nail, locate the studs first. Drill the stud locations for a 1/4" pilot hole. Loosely bolt the track to the wall. Drill the other three mounting holes through the predrilled track holes into the door header. Since the holes are 1/2" with a 5/16" lag bolt (3 to 4" long), level the track before securely tightening. If the track is not level, the door may roll to one side or the other on its own.

Bolt the other angle iron (with the top rail) to the wall angle using the 1" carriage bolts. Place a 1/2" wood shim on the floor at the highest spot. Stand the door on the shim and, with a helper, lay the wheels on the track, noting the correct locations for the final lag bolts from the strap to the door. Drill two holes in each strap (8 total) to 1/2" for the 5/16" lag bolts. Level the wheels and bolt the straps to the door. Remove the wood shim and check the door for proper roll. Each bolt can be loosened to move the track in and out from the wall, or the door up and down on the straps. Install any necessary door stops on the wall or floor if you did not put them on the top track.

Finishing options:
1. For a rustic look, the unpainted steel can be aged with a "Plum Brown" solution or blackened with a "Cold Blue" solution. For this project, the outer track was wire brushed and heated with a torch before the Plum Brown solution was applied to create a weathered look.
2. Depending on door choice, a salvaged door can be scrubbed with steel wool and paste waxed for an antique look.