Straight out of the barn...
Join the upcycle movement and learn how to repurpose a barn door into an adjustable standing desk.
There’s nothing quite like stumbling upon a treasure at an estate sale. The rush of the find, the thrill of the bargain. Yep. You know that feeling. That’s the same feeling we had when we found this old barn door at a local sale.
For this DIY project, we decided to repurpose our barn door into a standing desk. The barnwood top paired with the galvanized steel pipe legs gives the table a rustic industrial feel. This took a lot of work, but we think it turned out great!
We didn’t do much hunting for the door because it truly found us (as all great estate sale finds do). It was love at first sight. Plus, it was a bargain, priced at only $25! The patina look of the barnwood is what pulled us in. We saw past the terrible smell and spacing issues and decided to bring this door back to life.
The supplies we used for this project were:
1 Barn Door
Sandpaper / sanding sponge - 80, 120, and 220 grit
Clear satin spar urethane
Natural bristle paint brush
Black spray paint
4 - 1” pipe plugs
4 - 1¼” Flange with adjustable fittings
6 - 1” single socket tees
Wood floor cleaner
4 - 1¼” Galvanized Steel pipe (24” long)
4 - 1” Galvanized Steel pipe (24” long)
1 - 1” Galvanized Steel pipe (43” long)
The first step when working with any old or reclaimed wood is to clean it. Our door was pretty dirty so we scrubbed it using a cleaning solution made up of warm water, orange solvent, and wood floor cleaner. (We used a 2:1:1 ratio)
The goal was to clean the surface of the wood and remove any loose debris, not to soak it. A basic kitchen scrub brush was used for this part, but any sturdy brush should work. This also took away the lingering barn odor in the wood.
While the door was drying, we painted the pipes. The spray paint had a hammered effect to it, which added to the rustic theme. It also helped mask any imperfections and writing on the pipes.
After the barn door dried for a few days, we began removing some of the boards and moving them down to fill the gaps. This step wasn't easy because judging by the saw marks on the wood, the door is fairly old. The rusted nails seemed as if they were fused to the wood itself. But with patience and a crow bar, we were able to piece our desk's top together.
Parts of the desk were very uneven so we used a hand planer to help level the surface. Again, the wood is very old and it’s clearly been exposed to the elements and animals. A totally level surface is out of the question, though this is pretty close. The sanding began using an orbital sander with 80 grit sandpaper. We continued the sanding process using a 120 grit then 220 grit sanding sponge before sealing the wood.
The choice of how to finish the table was not easy. Our main goal was to maintain as much of the wood’s original character as possible. Paint was never an option because the wood is just too beautiful! After a bit of research, we decided to use a clear satin spar urethane to enhance the barn door's natural beauty and to provide a smooth and durable work surface. It’s important to use a good quality paintbrush for this step, like a natural bristle brush, to minimize the number of bristles you may leave behind.
The entire table was sanded between each coat using a 220 grit sanding sponge. Then, we used a damp cloth to wipe the table clean.
One coat was applied to the bottom of the table and three were applied to the top. The table was left for about a week to give it plenty of time to dry.
The flanges were attached before assembling the desk. Oak is a hardwood so pilot holes were drilled first. The desk top was then moved to its new home to be pieced together.
The unique thing about our desk is that all the fittings are adjustable. We found our fittings at a local industrial supply store for just a few dollars more than traditional fittings would have cost. They could also easily be found online or at your local hardware store. The pipes were cut by a hardware store and had some rough edges, so we made sure to burr them out before assembly. Most stores will do this for you if you ask. This is an important step because the pipes won’t fit inside each other if skipped.
Assembling the legs was pretty simple. First, the 1¼” pipes were attached to the base using an Allen wrench to tighten the flange bolts. The 1” pipes slid right into the larger pipes and the pipe plugs were added. Next, we slipped four of the single socket tees onto the legs and two onto the opposing support pipes so the foot support could be attached. All of these were tightened into place. Our desk is the perfect work height standing at 39" tall.
The finish on this piece turned out gorgeous. We’re pretty proud of the final product.
We love how the original saw marks stand out now and how the wood shines. Success!
Do you think you have what it takes to DIY? We do! If you have a project you’d like to share, send it to us at Upcycling@EstateSales.NET.
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