Learn How To Make Quality, Scratch-Built Dioramas

Click Here!

Diorama – Roll-Up Garage Doors That Actually Open And Close

Diorama Roll-Up Garage Doors

Roll-up garage doors for your diorama that actually open and close. Have you wanted to build a diorama and didn’t know what to do about the garage doors, why not make them roll-up doors that actually work. This way you can change the look of your diorama if you want by either, opening, closing or leaving the door halfway open. You could have 2 or 3 doors in your diorama building and leave each one in a different position or change them whenever you want.

First start out by figuring what size door you need and the best way to do this is by looking at a real roll-up garage door. Calculate the width you’d like, remember that it extends past the opening on the sides, calculate the height remembering to figure enough to go around the roller at the top, and also how far you want it to set back from the side walls where it will slide in the tracks.

Now that you have your figures you can make a jig to start making your side tracks for the door to slide up and down in. I used two pieces of scrap wood for the jig and two screws. Attach one piece to the other like in the pictures just make sure the edge is straight on your top piece because that is where you will slide your side tracks down to make the grove for the door to slide in. Also make sure your bottom piece is long enough to be clamped to your drill press table.

Cut the two pieces of wood that you are going to use for your diorama roll-up garage door side tracks according to your calculations. They do not have to be exact because we will trim them again later when the track cuts, rollers holes, etc. are finished.

The roll-up door material you use will determine what size drill bit you need for this next step. Measure the thickness of the material and use a bit a little wider because you do not want the door to stick or bind when you move it up and down. Insert the bit all the way into your drill press leaving just a short piece sticking out to prevent it from breaking easily and adjust the height of the drill press table so when you lay the piece of wood that you are going to use for the side tracks on the jig the bit will only go halfway into the material.

Using your roll-up door set back measurement lay your material for the side tracks on top of the jig and adjust the jig accordingly, clamp the jig securely to the drill press table. Start your drill press and slide your piece of side track material along the top edge of your jig using the drill bit to take out the material needed for the roll-up door to slide in.

Do not run it along the whole length, stop it at the height the door will be rolled into, refer to the pictures.

Set this off to the side for now and let’s start making the actual diorama roll-up garage door. We are doing it in this order to give you a better idea of how everything will work together and so we can test fit different parts.

Using the measurements for your roll-up door cut the width of your material you chose to use for your door and calculate how many pieces you will need for the height. You can make the height of the door larger than needed if you want and come back and trim it down to size later to prevent it from becoming too short, it’s easier to shorten it than to make it longer later. I used a product called skinny sticks for this, they are cheap and the length edges are slightly rounded so the door looks nice when finished.

You are going to glue a piece of material to the back side of all these pieces so they can flex when the door is moved. You can use a piece of tape on the front of them to line everything up and then glue the material to the back being careful not to get excess glue on everything so the wood can still flex and move, when dry remove the tape. Keep the material back slightly from the edges so it does not catch later when the door will be rolled up and down. You can temporarily slide your garage door into the side tracks to give you an idea of how far you want to keep the material away from the edges.

You may want to lay something heavy on top of the material while it dries. I usually use a piece of tinfoil between the material & what I use for weight to help keep them from sticking together. Depending on what you are using for glue it usually does not stick well to tinfoil so you have a better chance of your door not sticking to whatever you are using for a weight.

When that is dry we will continue with the side tracks because we need the completed door to calculate what size Hole Saw bit we will need. You may notice in the pictures that the cuts, holes, etc. are not as clean as they should be, they can all be cleaned up with a piece of sandpaper when all the cutting, drilling, etc. is completed right before final assembly.

For the piece that the diorama roll-up garage door will be fastened too and roll on we will use a short piece of dowel, make sure it is wider than the roll-up door itself, it can always be trimmed down again later if needed. Now that the roll-up door is dry, wrap it around the dowel so you can get a measurement for what size Hole Saw drill bit you will need to make the cut for where the door will be located when in the rolled up position. You can glue the top of the roll-up door to the dowel if you would like at this time or do it later.

Using the Hole Saw drill bit, drill the side tracks like the pictures going only halfway into the material. Clean the center of the holes out using a small chisel or utility knife.

Drill a regular hole in the middle of the hole you just made, but this time you can go all the way through the side track material. Use a bit the size of the diameter of the dowel making sure that the dowel will not bind in here because it will need to move freely so the door can move up and down. Do not glue the dowel in here because it needs to rotate freely for the roll-up door to work properly.

Temporarily set the diorama garage roll-up door with the dowel attached to it in the correct position in the side tracks and make sure everything moves up and down the way you want it and nothing binds. If anything needs to be adjusted or corrected now is a good time to do it. Take it back apart and now cut the access off of the side tracks like in the pictures to make it look nicer and less bulky.

Now is a good time to sand and clean up your garage door materials to give them that finished look. You can paint, stain or whatever you want to use to give it the desired finish you want to match your building. Place the roll-up door and dowel in their appropriate places, do not glue any of this because it needs to move up and down. Glue the front of the side tracks to the inside of your building in their appropriate places making sure nothing is binding and everything moves freely.

Enjoy your new roll-up diorama garage door, if you would like this in a complete pdf including the text and pictures head on over to How To Make A Diorama .com it is available for immediate download.