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Hi all – big fan of the group, this is my first forum post.

I'm building a large built-in wardrobe out of 3/4" birch ply.

It'll be in the vintage modern style w/ sliding doors, and I'm thinking of using 1/2" ply for the doors themselves.

I'm looking for advice on the track for the doors. 

My current plan is to rout the two track channels right into the top and bottom panels.

I have a dewalt compact router and a small router table. 

I figured I'd experiment w/ scrap first...because I'm not sure what bit size I should use, or how far to space the channels. 

I've thought about some other approaches, but since this is a pretty big project I thought I'd reach out to you guys.

What would you do? Any other thoughts on the sliding door idea?

You can check out my credenza project for an example of the style I'm going for.

Thanks a bunch, Jeff in Boston

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Well, today I came to the conclusion that routing my own track in a 2" hardwood strip might be the best bet.

Routing directly into the plywood seems dubious at best.

Now to go rifling through my scrapwood...


Oak hardwood, is the way to go, vs using plywood, for the track.

Hi Jeff, sounds like an interesting project of which will the sliding doors will try your patience especially if made from plywood panels.  From my experience I can tell you that even the best grade of 1/2 ply will have the tendency of bowing In the middle and the taller the panel the more problems.  I would strongly advise the use of a hardwood frame around the panels.  Stand a piece of plywood on end and then look at the bow in it, and if it is very little give is some time and you will soon see the bow developing.  Now consider passing two panels beside one another and you will see that you will need a large space between the doors.   On panels that are shorter that 4 feet you could get around it with little trouble.

When I was trimming out houses I found many by pass doors that were full interior door thickness that often would not pass each other without rubbing.  The rubbing soon takes the finish off of the door face of the one that is set back the most.  This is the reason they hang the doors from the top and use a guide type track in the bottom that keeps the doors from swinging outward on the bottom.

  If I was facing this problem I would think strongly about hanging the doors from a upper track like a pocket door and then build a shallow "U" shaped bottom track that is about 1/4" inch wider that the total thickness of the two doors.  I would make the "U" channel track about 3/8" deep and set the door height to be about 1/4" into the channel leaving you a 1/8" off the bottom of the channel.   You will find the method a easier way to move the door panels as the weight will not be totally on the bottom track.  They also make plastic liners that will fit into the bottom tracks as well as rollers that you install into the bottom of the door panels.  I would even think about using piano type hinge and swing the doors and if you wanted to make it look like bypass doors just build one door wider than the other and set the hinges at a different depth.  The only draw back here is that you will have to open the outer door in order to open the inside door.  Lots to think about but sounds like some fun.

Hi Jeff:

I recently built cabinets with sliding doors and yes using hardwood for the track pieces is the way to go.  Allow for 5/32" clearance on tops, bottoms and sides for the doors to slip into.  Also, if the doors are a little tight, put a rabbet on the inside of the doors. I've found this helps for the door slide and doesn't create rattle in the doors.

Hope this helps,

James Cox

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