Tools & Tricks for the Trade

Since the price of a new garage door (at least a high-end barn door style door) is a bit out of our budget, we will have to do what we can with what we have.    The door was already half trimmed out with 1 x 4 cedar so I decided to stay with the same idea, finish it out and dress it up with some new paint and hardware.  Instead of buying new 1 x 4 cedars, I found some 1 x 8 scraps lying around and had them ripped down to the correct width.  This was nice because I could get two 1 x 4 pieces from each 1 x 8.

For tools, my supplies were also limited.  Ideally, having a mitre saw would best, but since I didn’t have access to one this weekend I had to do it all with what I had available:

For power tools,  I used my Black & Decker Firestorm Skillsaw, Dewalt Power Drill and Dewalt Random Orbit Sander.  The B & D Saws work pretty well and are easy to manuever since they don’t have any plugs, but just be sure to have an extra battery around because they can run out of power pretty quick.

To draw the lines and angles, all that is needed is a Framer’s square and Carpenter’s pencil.  Carpenter’s pencils work best because they have thick lead which doesn’t brake on the rough edges of the cedar when marking the lines for the angles. The screwdriver will be used for a little trick I came up with that I’ll show you in a minute.

Finally, a little Alex Plus caulking and cheap caulk gun to fill the gaps along the boards.

I also purchesd 2 boxes of Star head exterior screws.  Exterior screws are designed so you won’t get the little black runs down the front when it rains and the star tips are nice because they don’t strip out as easliy.  You will also need semi-strong tape (Duct or Masking will work fine).

Now for the part that can drive some people a little nuts.  When placing the top board, it’s important to take into account the break at the top when the door opens (specifically, the break is when the door first pulls back from the frame).  If you place it too high, the beam could get knocked off or damaged, too low and you’ve got a gap showing at the top that takes away from the barn door affect.  I didn’t want to just guess and I wasn’t going to tack an entire board along the top to find out, not to mention the fact that I would need to take into account the height of the new, thicker garage door hardware.  So I came up with this little solution.


Using a scrap piece of the 1 x 4, I inserted a screw to be the exact height of the faux hinge hardware.  I would then use this piece as my test strip along the top edge of the door to find the highest point at which I could place by top rail.  Use the tape to secure the test piece at the top of the door, open-close, move accordingly, open-close again until you find the highest point that you can place the top rail.  By using the tape, if it hits the frame around your garage door, it will just fall off and you will avoid doing any damage to the door, frame or trim pieces.


Another little trick, as you can see, I removed the 1 x 2 trim board that went along the top of my frame.  This gave me a little more room to raise my top rail.  After I’m done, I’ll fill in the gaps on the side with scrap 1 x 2, caulk, paint and no one will be the wiser.  Now I can finally get started on the main portion of this job, trimming out the door with the new cedar boards!

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