Boatbuilding Blog

June 10, 2010

Hanging the Sliding Doors

Filed under: Building - Cabin — tomlarkin @ 12:15 pm

I’ve been asked by a number of people how I hung the doors. There’s no standard way to do this, and I spent a lot of time trying to figure this detail out. I initially hung them from ball-bearing cars and track made for small racing sailboats, but they slid too easily and I was concerned that they would be out of control in bad weather. I couldn’t figure out a method to reliably dampen the movement. When I first tried the method below, they were too hard to open – the sliders stuck. I was ready to give up on the idea, but when I greased the sliders a little, they worked perfectly – not too easy, and not too hard to open.

Top Sliders

This method is really simple, and way more low-tech than all the other ideas I had, but the doors work really well so far.

7/8 inch sail track and nylon sail slugs:
IMG_0533

Cut the loop off:
IMG_0535 

Drill and countersink a slightly oversized hole (the countersink goes on the other side):
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Screw to the top of the door with a little gap. I used 3 inch stainless deck screws. The slider was loose after being attached – that is, it was free to twist and move a little. I hoped this movement would let it ‘float’ a bit in the track if things were a little out of square.  I could adjust the height of the doors just by turning the screw.
IMG_0543

Grease the track!
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Bottom Track

Hanging the doors is half of the battle – they can’t be allowed to swing out on the bottom.  The doors have a 3/4 wide x 1 1/2 inch deep slot along the bottom, created by running the 1/4 inch outer plywood laminations longer than the core piece (door construction details below).

I made these bottom tracks out of 1/2 inch plastic ‘King Starboard’ because it’s slippery and weatherproof. The tracks are made a bit short to allow water to run out the ends.  They’re just screwed onto the side of the pilothouse at about the right height.
IMG_0547 

The doors hang over the track.
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Locking the doors

The Port door is the main entry door. It locks with a padlock through a bronze hasp. I made the hasp from 1/8 inch plate, mortised into the door before glassing. It goes through a slot in the door cowling. It’s not real elegant, but it is bulletproof. I made sure this door could slide back an extra three inches so the hasp didn’t protrude into the opening where people would be sure to run into it.
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The Starboard door  locks with this slide bolt. You need to latch it from the inside. The bolt has an anti-rattle slider. The second hole shown lets you open the door a few inches for ventilation, but still be secure.
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Making the Doors

I made the doors from the original pieces I cut out when I made the pilothouse. First, I drew all the windows and doors on the framed-in pilothouse, then cut out the windows. Then I cut out the doors. In this picture, all the widows are cut, and the Port door is cut out. I saved the doors flat so they wouldn’t warp.
P8090147

I don’t have many pictures of making the doors, but basically, I made the 1/4 inch outer skins 1 1/2 inches larger than the cutouts in all dimensions and added 1 x 2 strips to the edges and top of the 3/4 inch core before gluing the layers together. This made the doors 3 inches wider than the cutout and three inches higher. Not adding a bottom 1 x 2 created the slot at the bottom for the bottom track described above.
IMG_0519

I made the 1/4 plywood window cutouts oversized so the windows would be attached to the 3/4 inch part as they were designed. This also made the inside of the window inset by 1/4 inch so it would have enough room to slide past the fixed window.
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1 Comment »

  1. Great Job!
    I’m building a similar tug and didn’t know how I was going to build the sliding door.
    What did you use for the top “U” channel for a track?
    Thanks,
    Bob Gilliam

    Comment by Bob Gilliam — February 1, 2011 @ 4:11 am


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