I think I spent all last week building and installing these two pocket doors for the cabinet that is a hidden entrance to the pantry. They are over 8′ tall and because of how tall they are, these suckers were really hard to build! I love that the pantry entrance just looks like a big cabinet!
But behind those doors is a whole hidden walk in pantry!
Installing pocket doors
I had to install the door track first so I could properly size the doors.
I’m using this bypass track and roller system for 3/4″ doors from Johnson Hardware. The track and rollers are easy to install.
(I don’t suggest getting lazy and installing a less awesome track because you have it on hand and then decide that you won’t be happy unless you put the actual awesome track that you wanted in the first place in…and then have to rip out out the ceiling that you built up flush to the original less than awesome track and start over! Just get the better track to begin with.)
Building the doors
Then I build my doors. My rails and stiles are 1×3 poplar and I’m using 1/4″ MDF for the panels. I decided to go with simple Shaker style doors for my kitchen. They are classic…and super easy to build!
I cut the 1/4″ groove in my rails and stiles on my table saw with a dado set. I set up a featherboard to hold the 98″ stiles against the fence while I fed them through. I don’t like building doors this tall. It’s hard.
I used loose tenons to join the rails to the stiles. Aside from the difficulty in lining everything up, running from one end of the table to the other, pushing here, something popping up over there…loose tenons make for super fast and easy joinery!
Because I ran these through the table saw to cut the panel groove, and they are so long and hard to manage, I did not try to cut “stop dados” (where you don’t see the groove on the ends of the boards). I just glued in a plug where I didn’t want a hole. If I were to use true tenons on my rails, my tenon would fill that groove completely but I going for quick and easy as often as possible. Loose tenons and plugs. Boom!
I used my drum sander to do my first two grits of sanding; 80 and 120. It was difficult to manage the 8′ of infeed and outfeed so I finished up the 220 grit sanding with my orbital sander on my work table.
The drum sander did an awesome job cleaning up and evening out my doors while keeping all surfaces flat and even.
Then I primed. I did this with a brush and roller as is my usual routine.
Attach door hangers
When the primer was dry, I hauled my doors up to the kitchen and installed the rollers and catch and hung my doors.
They fit! Remember that arch I put on the existing cabinet? Watch that disappear… But anyway, with the doors installed I was able to mark the location for my floor grooves.
Cut floor grooves
YIKES! This made me seriously nervous. Not that I couldn’t patch the floor and start over if I totally screwed up but I -didn’t – want – to – have to.
I used my track saw. Cut the grooves after I measured and checked like 1500 times. I didn’t even rehang the doors and check to see if the grooves were good to go. I just plowed ahead at this point. I sanded the grooves. I sanded the edges so they wouldn’t be sharp to my bare feet. Then Brody helped me match the stain and I stained the grooves to make them finished and intentional.
Then I cut mortises and installed two loose tenons to fit in my floor grooves. I wanted this floor track and something sticking out the bottom of the doors into the floor track to keep the doors from swinging into each other or the “pocket” cabinets while being opened or closed.
While I was doing all the cutting and sanding and staining of the floor track, I was also painting my doors. Sand, paint, sand, paint. Two coats on each side of each door.
At this point, there was nothing else to be done but hold my breath and install, hoping above hope that everything would line up and work out.
Miraculously, it did!
HAPPY DANCING! Lots of it! (Ooh yeah, did you notice the arch is gone?)
Then I made a big dust mess routing out for my door pull.
Which worked out beautifully too which is also amazing because the whole time I was shaking my head thinking, “This is going to break.” But it didn’t!
Ever feel spastically excited by everything you WANT to get done right this second? That’s me. The pantry pocket doors are done! Now I have 20 other things I want to get done today so woohoo here I go!
So I decided to remove the arch on the side cabinet because it didn’t make sense to my eyes and I wanted the whole corner to look like one piece…kind of like it did before. I swear I’ve torn out and redone my OWN work too much in this house. But, when you decide this is YOUR house and not just a house you’re going to live in for a few years, make it look better and then move on, you decide it’s ok to tear out a few things that you made “better” to make them “BETTER”!