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How (not) to make saloon doors

Sometimes DIY projects around here turn out great.

Sometimes they are giant failures.

And sometimes they look great and are a failure at the same time. This is one of those projects.

saloon doors for a closet

About five years ago I removed the closet door from my boy’s room. Most people love doors on closets because you can hide the mess… I like closets not to have doors for the same reason. I know myself…hiding the mess is not a good thing. When I can hide a mess I HIDE A MESS. Things get crazy. It’s not pretty.

Saloon doors on the boy’s closet seemed like the perfect solution. You can still see inside (therefore ensuring things don’t get out of hand) but the view is still partially obstructed. Plus, how much fun are swinging saloon doors in a cowboy kids room?

Not only are they fun, but they only cost $7 and are simple to make. Not that I made them or anything…this was 100% done by the husband while I made dinner one night. All I did was tell him that we needed saloon doors to finish the boy’s room and I wanted then to look old and crappy.

When you want something to look old and crappy and not cost you much, pallets are the answer.

free pallets

For this project Adam didn’t sand them down or stain them, he just left them completely rough and natural. (here is what they look like sanded and stained)

After disassembling Adam clamped a few of the boards together and added two pieces across the underside, putting a screw into each plank to hold everything together.

How to make swinging doors out of a pallet

Here’s another view, (after they were finished, since the dinner making got in the way of my picture-taking.)

How to make $6 saloon doors

Then he used a jigsaw to cut a “swoop” design on the top, using our kids bumbo chair to draw a perfect partial circle. (No pictures of this step either, sorry. This is a lame excuse for a tutorial.)

The last step was to hang them. For that we used cafe door pivot hinges from Home Depot, which were $6.97 for a set and are the only cost associated with this project.

saloon door hinges

And here they are all hung up! How fun is that? I think they look great…and by great I mean old and crappy, of course.

cowboy bedroom
DIY swinging doors for a kids cowboy room

But wait…I thought this was a DIY fail? Yeah, it is. The problem is that they only swing out about halfway, because the support board hits the door frame (they swing in all the way inward).

DIY saloon doors
saloon door oops

There’s an easy solution…we would just have to take them apart, cut down the support boards shorter (about where the white lines are) and reassemble.

cut here to make sure the door swings both ways

It hasn’t happened yet. It may never happen. They function well enough that they are likely to stay like this forever. You know how it goes.

DIY swinging saloon doors for $6

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  1. That stinks that they don’t open all the way. I think they may look a little odd if you cut the supports short on both sides. What if instead, you miter the ends so they aren’t as thick. That way they would still go the full width but you would be able to open them farther.

    1. That is what I was thinking the solution would be, too. No disassembly required. Put the table saw at a miter and run it through so only the supports are cut.

    2. I think that is the best solution too (and easiest). Adam thought about doing that…I can’t remember why he didn’t now. I like the part where we don’t have to disassemble it, because honestly that is never going to happen. It would be one of those “good enough” projects for forever!

  2. Hi Ashley!

    I’ve been following you for the last two years. I was a totally clueless newbie to the whole diy thing (I had never even CONSIDERED that you could buy second hand furniture and paint it) and then I found pinterest, and through it, your blog. I never left a comment before because I figured you couldn’t really LIKE trawling through all the notes people left for you, but now that I’ve started my own blog I know that that really isn’t the case!

    So I just wanted to say hi, and thanks for all the inspiration, and congratulations on the new arrival :)

    Oh, and if you ever want to check out an Irish blog that you helped to inspire it’s http://www.makedoanddiy.com


    1. Girl, are you sure you’re new to DIY, because your projects are great! Although they don’t compare to the curls on your daughter..those are SO stinkin adorable. My Levi had tons of curly hair until his first haircut…now it’s straight as can be.

      And yes, I love comments! I don’t always have time to respond to them (which I feel guilty about) but I read and appreciate every single one of them. You know how it goes :)

  3. Like natural look. A star fish, some shells, some ragged rope came to mind for a nautical look. Maybe just paint one board with few quick paint brush swipes in a basic color to add scrap heap touch.

  4. Those are so cute! What a great idea. I like that mitering idea above…IF you do ever wind up fixing them. (Maybe to sell? That’s how I seem to get a lot of those niggly little jobs done…)
    How is everybody doing these days? Settling in to the new normal?
    Cheers! J

    1. I think we will end up mitering them, it’s the best and easier solution. Hopefully it won’t take us until we sell…but you never know. We are going to have out work cut out for us when that comes, there are so many little annoying things that need attention!

      Everyone is doing good these days! Life is a little crazy…Adam started a new work schedule that is a huge adjustment, theres the new baby, and the house. I have to say, designing and building a custom home is SO much harder than I thought…and we haven’t even broken ground yet! I’m looking forward to it for sure, but it’s gong to be stressful and time consuming. Right now we are waiting on our construction loan to close, then we will be good to start! It’s looking like it will be about 6 weeks till that happens. How are you?

  5. Just a suggestion, but what about just routing those edges with a quarter round bit, maybe not the raw look you wanted, but they would open more and would be less likely to cause damage to the walls/wood there. :)

  6. No matter, they look great and suit with the decor! Glad to see you’re still with us ha, ha! We need an update picture :)

  7. They look great! The pallet wood was a great choice to give them an instant weathered look. I appreciate your honesty as well.

  8. How cute! Would it work better to just switch the doors? It would mean the support boards on the inside, but maybe it would be more convenient for them to swing fully outward instead of in? Thanks for sharing this project!

  9. I’ve been reading a few of your posts and really enjoy your ideas. I have a suggestion for this one, it may be more eye catching to leave some of the support you have existing and still have the full functionality you need by cutting out just enough of an angle as you need to open it fully. Another for others trying this project would be to spend an extra dollar if the budget allowed and get the type of hinge that raises and extends outwards as you open that way you still have the rustic unfinished support look. Hope the idea helps, thank you for the entertainment and ideas take care!

  10. What if you took the doors off and switched them to the opposite side? They would be inside out and they still wouldn’t open all the way, but they’d open outward all the way. It might get you by until a more permanent fix happens.

  11. This might be the same thing they were saying above, but what if you cut off the edge of the support boards at an angle (chopping off the corner, diagonally). I don’t think it would be very noticeable, wouldn’t require taking everything apart, and would let them open much wider!

  12. This is why I love your blog! You aren’t afraid to be Imperfect and you aren’t afraid to show it to the world either. You’re funny & down to Earth…LIKEABLE!

    I don’t have a suggestion for the doors because everyone above already gave great ideas.

    So, how have y’all been through all this crazy rain? Did you get affected by the flooding? It’s so sad all the people missing and all the damage that has been done.

    1. Thanks girl! Hasn’t the flooding been crazy? We are fine, but my in-laws house (who are not in a flood zone) house is basically destroyed. The had about 5 or 6 feet of water in it and lost everything, including their vehicles. It’s bad. We have a really large family and everyone has been over there tearing the house down to studs for the past few days. It will be a long process of rebuilding, but the important thing is that everyone is okay. How did you fare?

      1. Oh no. That sucks! I’m so glad all the rain has stopped. It makes me sad to see all the families who have suffered loss whether of things or family members. It actually seemed to go right around us. It got about ankle deep on our street and in our backyard but that’s it. The kids wanted to get the kayaks out and go down the street on them. Lol. I didn’t let them due to lightning but it was a fun thought. I hope y’all are able to get your inlaws house redone so they can have a home again. I know they appreciate all the help.

  13. You probably sorted the problem by now , but if not why don’t you turn the doors around by changing left for right that puts the support boards to the back and they should open much wider. As the boards are now on the back side ,
    Never mind i iam going to copy your design to built some decency saloon doors for our outdoor shower facing away keeping us covered from nosy neighbours.
    Helko Geraldton , Australia

  14. The entire problem is that the brackets are not long enough for the thickness that your door turned out to be. Get longer brackets (or make some) and it will be fine, though you may have to run each door through the table saw so they don’t bang together where they meet, but it will look normal and better than an out of place miter or round-over, which will subtract from the rustic appearance.

  15. OMG that last part made me laugh!!

    “It hasn’t happened yet. It may never happen. They function well enough that they are likely to stay like this forever. You know how it goes.”


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