How to build tracks for vertically-sliding pophole door

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by patandchickens, Oct 26, 2008.

  1. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    I just did two of these and of course did I take any pix, no [​IMG] but I know that people have asked how to do this, and the process I used (which is pretty simple and nontechnical) is fresh in my mind right now, so here is a brain dump:

    SETTING UP:

    Decide where you want your pophole (preferably not somewhere that a gutterless roof will dump water everytime it rains). Seriously consider putting it 6-16" above the coop floor, so there is a sill to keep litter from getting tracked out.

    Locate yer studs, because the track on either side of the popdoor REALLY oughta be screwed into studs not just plywood. If necessary you can add a piece of 2x4, well screwed into your plywood with some number of screws, as a 'false stud' to give you something to screw into in the absence of a convenient stud. Or, make the pophole extra wide to span between existing studs.

    Mark on the wall where you want the pophole to be cut
    , but DO NOT CUT IT YET (to allow for later correction of any accidents that may occur [​IMG]. Leave a 1" space between the edge of the hole and each stud (instead of cutting the edge of the pophole right up against the edge of the stud).

    Cut a piece of plywood - I recommend 1/2" - to use as the door. It needs to be it a 2-3 inches wider, and at least 6" taller, than the pophole outline you just drew on the wall. Make sure you mark and cut the door very straight and square.

    Hold it up against the wall, covering the outline of the pophole as if the door were in place and closed. Use your level to get it vertical, and use your eyeballs to center it so there is an equal overlap beyond the pophole outline to the left and to the right. Mark its left and right edges on the wall (run a pencil or marker down the edge of 'em to trace their outline onto the wall).

    MAKING THE TRACK:

    Now cut your wood for the track. You will need 1x2 and 1x3 (or for a stronger product, use 1x3 and 1x4; or substitute scrap strips of 3/4" plywood [not thinnner!] of appropriate widths). For each of the two widths of material, you will need two pieces equal to 1 1/2 to 2 times your door's height. For instance, if your pophole opening will be 14" high, thus the door itself will be 20" high, thus you need 30-36" lengths (two of the narrower wood, and two of the wider, all the same length).

    The narrower wood makes the spacer that provides a channel in which the door runs. The bottom of the spacer should be about 4" below the bottom edge of the pophole opening. Screw the spacer pieces onto the wall ONE QUARTER TO ONE HALF INCH OUTSIDE OF the door-edge lines you drew. It's important to leave that extra slack so the door will run freely.

    Now that you've got the two spacers screwed onto the wall, take the plywood door you cut and hold it up between the spacers. Make sure it will run freely but not outrageously loosely, all the way up and down. NOW is the time to correct any mistakes!

    The wider wood provides the 'lip' that keeps the door in place in the track. Put each piece on so it is flush with the outer edge of the spacer you just applied -- this means it will protrude about 1" further towards the center of the pophole. The bottom of this strip should be flush with the bottom of the spacer strip. Hold the piece firmly in place and screw it on, screwing right thru the spacer and into the stud, using four to six screws at least 3" long. Be serious about the length and accuracy into the stud of these screws - they are what holds your track together and your door in place.

    Voila, you now have tracks for your door. Now you can cut the actual pophole in the wall, confident that it will match where your door is [​IMG] Also now you can add pulleys, latches, catches, whatever else you need.

    (Note: alternatively, you can use steel or strong aluminum J-molding as the tracks. It is slightly simpler, but not as much as you might think. I've done this for one pen but am not overly impressed with its apparent strength, also the correct molding can be difficult to find.)

    Hope this maybe helps someone,

    Pat
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2008
  2. redhen

    redhen Kiss My Grits... Premium Member

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    Thanks Pat..we are(well actually, my husband is) building a pop door this week..so this is perfect timing!...thanks so much!..Wendy
     
  3. joebryant

    joebryant Overrun With Chickens

    I suggest putting your pop door on with a tunnel leading to the run. That way I you don't have to go into either the run or the coop to open or close it.
    [​IMG]
     
  4. dftkarin

    dftkarin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am about to get the supplies to build the tracks for a popdoor that slides horizontally because my coop has a vent with a hinged flap that would interfere with a vertical door opening all the way. I read your instructions with great interest and I will change a few things to better match your suggestions.

    I do have a simple .5 inch plywood for the walls so I'll screw pretend studs on the inside to give me something sturdy to screw the tracks into. I had been thinking I would use 1x1' and 1x2s - but I will try to get wider wood to make it even sturdier. Pat, do you have any suggestions for making my side-sliding popdoor move as smoothly as possible?
    My biggest problem is that I don't own a saw, only a drill/screwdriver - so I'm headed to the local lumber store with the hope they can precut my wood for me.
     
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Yes, wider is definitely better. If you use just 1" wide wood for the spacer (remember it is actually slightly narrower than 1 actual inch) it will be very apt to split even if you predrill your holes, especially if something pushes hard on the door when it's closed.

    Pat, do you have any suggestions for making my side-sliding popdoor move as smoothly as possible?

    Sand the heck out of it, and don't get it fitting too snugly (although with nominal-1" stock for the track and 1/2" plywood that should not be a problem. Remember you can always use the furry kind of weatherstripping if it's too loose).

    As long as the door doesn't weigh too much and its plywood is flat not warped I would not anticipate your having any sort of problem. You might wnat to make sure that the end of the track is open, not flush against a wall, so that when the chickens kick some shavings nad mud into the track as they're going in and out of the door, sliding the door closed will just push the crud off the end of the track and onto the coop floor instead of building up in there to make things jam.

    My biggest problem is that I don't own a saw, only a drill/screwdriver - so I'm headed to the local lumber store with the hope they can precut my wood for me.

    Karin Karin Karin -- BUY A SAW!! [​IMG] It is one of life's basic tools. A hand saw not a power saw. Find someone over 50 yrs of age at the lumber store and say "I don't own a saw at all, what handsaw should I buy that would be most useful" and they will point you at a reasonable one. I would suggest something in the shorter-with-larger-teeth food group. Actually a hacksaw (which is another tremendously useful tool to own, and often a bit cheaper than a real saw) would do fine for cutting wood up to 3-4" wide... but it will be useless on wider boards so it would probably make more sense to get a real handsaw. Honest. They're not expensive. Do it [​IMG]

    Have fun,

    Pat​
     
  6. pookiethebear

    pookiethebear Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If your pop door swells and warps replace it with a plastic cutting board trimmed down to fit.
     
  7. dftkarin

    dftkarin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    great idea about the cutting board! I need a half inch thick door that is 14"tall and 13" wide - I'm going to go check out cutting boards!!
     

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