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Wednesday April 3rd, 2019
Barn doors are not just a trend for the interior design industry, they are considered a staple in architectural and interior design bringing more functional art into homes and offices around the globe. With this new found necessity for the use of barn doors, there are some learning curves that we can help to get through including the seemingly complicated aspect of a pull solution on the back side of the barn door. The obvious solution is a “flush pull” that gets mortised (recessed) into the back side of the door. This can be intimidating to do yourself as it requires you to cut into and hollow out a void into the wood of your beautiful barn door in order to inset the flush pull. There are many ways to accomplish this the right way so we will walk you through a few options based on what kind of tools you have available.
The first step is to determine the right side and edge of the door that it needs to be placed. Once you cut into your door it won’t grow back if you do so on the wrong side so make sure you have this right. The best way to insure that you don’t make that mistake is to install the hangers on the “front” of the door first and then determine the edge of the door that will line up with the end of the track when the door is closed over the opening as illustrated below. Then you will identify the back side of that same edge as the location that you will mortise into the door for the flush pull.

Now that you have identified that, you will need to determine which of the following tools you have available;

A. Machine assisted (ideal) tool set up for barn door mortise for flush pull;

Hand router, flush cut router bit of 1/2”–3/4” diameter, clamps and plywood template, hammer, and chisel.

B. “By hand” tool set up for bar door mortise for flush pull;

Drill, 1/2”–1.5” Fostener bit, hammer, and chisel.

Option A:

  1. If you have tool set up “A”, then you probably know what to do from here but just in case, set up your door on a couple of trusted saw horses. Now measure and mark the area on the side style of your door for the desired location of the flush pull (typically pulls are centered at 36” off the bottom of the door).
  2. You will now take this measurement and make your template with a scrap piece of plywood with the same offset as the collet you have on your router shroud. Then set the depth of your router bit and accommodate for the added thickness of your template. You will want to set the depth to accommodate the depth of the flush pull box.
  3. It’s a good idea to make a few passes graduating depth of the router in small increments (no more than 3/16”) at a time until you reach the correct depth for the flush pull box to fully recess. Once you achieve the correct depth, then you can square off the rounded corners left by the radius of the router bit with your chisel and hammer. After that, you are done with your mortise!

Option B:

  1. If you don’t have a router, then option “B” is also a good method but may take a little more finesse. First, set up your door on a couple of trusted saw horses. Now measure and mark the area on the side style of your door for the desired location of the flush pull (typically pulls are centered at 36” off the bottom of the door).
  2. Now, you’ll want to take your chisel and hammer to trace the marks that you’ve made by striking the end of the chisel with the hammer indenting a deep chisel groove into the door. Do this all the way around the outline of the desired mortise area.
  3. Now take the drill and your Fostener bit to drill to the depth of the flush pull box within the area that you have chiseled over your markings. You will want to be very careful not to drill all the way through your door!! Space out your holes evenly staying within the area to be mortised. Depending on the diameter of your bit, you will need to figure how many holes will need to be drilled.
  4. The basic concept here is that you are plunging small round mortise cuts into the door at the depth of your flush pull box to move away the majority of that material. Once you have done that as far as possible (it might look pretty ugly at this point but don’t worry). Now you need to use some of that finesse with the chisel. You will go with the grain to flatten out the remaining material that the round bit could not get to as well as use the chisel to square off the corners of the mortise.

If you have made it to this point then you should be pretty darn proud of your craftsmanship skills. Now you are done with the mortise and are ready to place the flush pull into the mortise and use the provided screws to attach to the barn door through the flush pull plate.

Well done! Which project is next?

Looking to install a Barn Door Tool? Check out our video below:

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