DIY: Modern Wood Slat Door

In this DIY, I’ll show you how to go from a builder’s grade (boring) closet door to a modern wood slat door. To get started, you’ll need a few supplies from the hardware store, a bucket of patience, and a weekend to complete.

Building this door wasn’t a necessity. However, it was a solution to a problem I had when guests were over. The closet door stuck out just enough to prevent the bathroom door from opening when the closet door was open. Causing me to fly into an unreasonable range as I stomped around to the other entrance to get into the bathroom. It was a minor inconvenience I could no longer tolerate. I thought about removing the indoor entirely, leaving an open shelf look but then I came across THIS YouTube video that inspired me to attempt building my own DIY Slat Door. 

Slat Door Supplies

Wood Needed: Stats 5 – 1x2x8ft, Frame 4 -1x4x8ft

Tools: Drill, Bi-Fold Door Repair Kit, Pocket Hold Jig, 1 ¼ Pocket Screws, Door Handle, Shop Rags, Paint Brush, Wood Glue, Magnetic Door Catch, 6 Large Spring Clamps, and 1 Bar Clamp

Stain: Minwax Pre-Stain, Minwax Stain in Early American 230, & Minwax Polycrylic Topcoat

Making the Cuts & Building the Door Frame

I used the old closet door measurements to make my new wood slat door. This way, I knew it would fit the space and determine how much wood to buy. The door measured 23 ¼ W x 78 ¼ H. 

To make the frame, I cut all 4 – 1x4x8ft down to 78 ¼. These longer pieces are going to be the vertical sides of the door. Take the smaller pieces remaining from your first cut and cut them down to 15 ¼ inches. These 15 ¼-inch boards will become the horizontal portions of the frames. 

Using the pocket hole jig, I drilled two parallel holes on the upper and lower sections of the 78 ¼ boards. Use the 1 ¼ pocket screws to attach the 15 ¼ boards at a 90-degree angle, making a rectangle frame. You will do this twice. Create two frames when you’re done. Set one frame aside and chose the other to attach the wooden slats. 

To make the slats, cut down the 1x2x8ft boards to 15 ¼. One board should produce 5 slats. In the end, I made 25 slats for the center of the door. Before attaching the slats, take the time to sand each piece. This will be easier to do now and make for an even surface when it’s time to stain. 

Women cutting wood for the slat door outside

Master the Pocket Hole Jig

If you haven’t already mastered using the pocket hole jig, I would highly recommend using a scrap piece of wood in the same thickness to drill a few practice holes before starting on your project. After you feel comfortable with the jig, it’s time to start spacing your slats between the frame. 

I did a dry fit of the slats before committing to drilling any holes, using two blocks of wood at 1 ½ inches wide for the spacing between the slats. I placed the wooden spacers in the corners of the frame and then a slat to mark the wood for the pocket hole jig. Then remove the slat, drill the pocket hole into the side of the frame, remove the jig, and screw in the slat. Repeat this process for each slat until they were all secured in the center of the frame (about 3 hours to complete). 

Once the front of the door is complete, it’s time to glue the second frame to the back. Fusing two boards together provide sturdiness to the door and enough thickness to install the hardware. I found my boards were not perfectly aligned, but I did my best to ensure it was not visible from the face of the door. Use a generous amount of wood glue to sandwich the boards, secure them together using the spring clamps, and let dry overnight.  


Set the Hardware

After the glue was completely dry, I sanded the entire door to a smooth finish and wiped it down with a damp rag to remove the dust. As the door was drying, I created two cardboard templates to install the closet henge hardware. I removed the metal swivels from the old closet door leaving just the drilled-out holes. Using a piece of cardboard of the same width and size as the old closet door, I placed the cardboard over the area where the old fixtures were and punched a hole through the cardboard. Transfer the bottom templet to the bottom of the new door (and the top templet to the top of the new door) and mark with a pen. Bam! You have the exact spots to drill for the hardware. 

Drilling through the wood will take a bit of muscle and time. Start with a smaller drill bit and work up to a 3/8-sized bit. Flush out the holes for any remained sawdust and insert the top and bottom closet hedges. 

Stain to Desired Color

Now we’re in the home stretch! Staining is the hardest part for me not to rush through. I just wanted to slap on the stain and be done with it. But I pushed through and followed the proper directions for pre-stain, stain, and topcoat. I was overjoyed by how even and rich the stain turned out. When the proper steps are followed, there is a true difference in the outcome of a woodworking project. 

After everything was dry, I simply placed the door into the door frame. It fit like a glove. Using the old bi-fold door as a template made this project unbelievably easy. The look of this new modern wood slat door instantly elevated the entire design of the bathroom. Most importantly, The door will always remain closed after grabbing things from the closet, solving my issue of not having the entranceway blocked. 

women staining the wooden door for a DIY.
Completed DIY of the wood slat door

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