Sapele Side Gate

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Project by Brit posted 09-20-2010 06:32 PM 4106 views 5 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

We needed a gate for the side of our house. So I designed this one in Sketchup and made it out of Sapele. There were lots of firsts for me on this project. First time working with hardwood. First time building something from my own design in Sketchup. First time edge jointing and glueing boards together. First time chiseling mortise and tenon joints. First time drawboring. First time making my own beading. First time doing a proper assembly.

Each rail is joined to the stiles by a double mortise and tennon joint, drawbored to the stiles using beech dowels. The panels consist of 7 boards edge glued together and then routed with a V-cutter so they resemble tongue and groove. The bottom beading on each panel is deeper than the side and top beading and is rebated into the panel to just passed the bottom of the V-grooves. That way the rain can run down the panel and over the beading rather than behind the beading. I filled the grain on the panels, but didn’t bother on the rails and stiles (well as my wife kept reminding me, “It’s just a gate!”). The panels are glued to the beading in the middle only at the top and bottom, so the panel can expand and contract across its width. I allowed 10mm either side for expansion so I hope that’s enough.

Initially I tried steam bending the top beading, but it wasn’t that successful. It became difficult to fit due to spring back. After two failed attempts, I bought two more boards, edge glued them together and cut the shape out to match the arch, then routed the profile on it.

The posts are pressure treated pine stained to match the gate. Unfortunately, the budget wouldn’t stretch to 5” square Sapele posts. I’m just wating for the last coat of finish to dry on a Sapele fence panel that goes to the left of the gate.

All in all, I’m quite pleased with the result considering all the ‘firsts’ and the fact that it was built on a Black & Decker workmate in the back garden.

-- Andy -- "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." (Michelangelo)

24 comments so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16258 posts in 3795 days

#1 posted 09-20-2010 06:47 PM

Looks fantastic! I hope it holds up well outdoors… I must say I’ve never heard of using sapele for fencing! What’s next…. a cocobolo deck? :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View 489tad's profile


3149 posts in 2588 days

#2 posted 09-20-2010 07:04 PM

It looks very professional. Good job.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View Brit's profile


6845 posts in 2420 days

#3 posted 09-20-2010 07:06 PM

Thanks Charlie,

Where I live in the UK, the only hardwoods you can buy locally are Oak or Sapele. These two woods are the main woods used for window frames, front doors, etc. I must admit that since this is my first project with Sapele, I keep going to look at it when its hot, cold, rainy, etc, to see how much the wood has moved. I’m really impressed with the drawbored joinery. It’s a heavy gate and the joints have remained really tight.

-- Andy -- "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." (Michelangelo)

View JimNEB's profile


239 posts in 2645 days

#4 posted 09-20-2010 07:47 PM

Nice, almost too nice to be an outside gate!

-- Jim, Nebraska

View VerteramoFurniture7's profile


56 posts in 2838 days

#5 posted 09-20-2010 07:50 PM

Its cool to see the difference between filling the grain and not filling the grain. I would say with a full shop i’d be happy with a product like that, but done just on a workmate that shows nice skill.

View Brit's profile


6845 posts in 2420 days

#6 posted 09-20-2010 08:58 PM

Thanks for the comments guys.

VerteramoFurniture7, it was definitely a challenge building something this big and heavy on a Workmate, even though I had an auxiliary roller stand as well. I found the trick to sawing the tenon shoulders was to wobble in time with the bench. :-) It’s going to be such a pleasure to work on a proper bench when I finally get to build it.

-- Andy -- "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." (Michelangelo)

View Brandon's profile


4151 posts in 2528 days

#7 posted 09-21-2010 02:01 AM

Well done, Brit. You designed and built a very nice gate! The pine posts match the sapele very well, too.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14168 posts in 3560 days

#8 posted 09-21-2010 03:34 AM

fantastic color and a job well done.

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View knackonwood's profile


45 posts in 3018 days

#9 posted 09-21-2010 06:39 AM


View Skylark53's profile


2644 posts in 2637 days

#10 posted 09-21-2010 08:45 AM

You should be very pleased; the gate is beautiful!

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

View newTim's profile


601 posts in 3184 days

#11 posted 09-22-2010 01:15 AM

Nice gate. Can you please share the dimensions? What is the diameter of the arch? Thanks.

-- tim hill

View Brit's profile


6845 posts in 2420 days

#12 posted 09-25-2010 02:08 PM

Hi Tim, sorry for the delay in replying, I’ve been away on business. Of course I’ll share the dimensions. Do you use Sketchup? If not, I’ll draw it out for you. Let me know and I’ll upload the details.

-- Andy -- "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." (Michelangelo)

View Brit's profile


6845 posts in 2420 days

#13 posted 09-25-2010 11:56 PM

Tim – The gate is 1750mm high x 970mm wide. It is 45mm thick. The rails and stiles are 145mm wide.

Here is the arch as I drew it in Sketchup.

I drew a series of vertical dotted lines and transferred the measurements of where each dotted line bisected the top arc to a sheet of 8mm MDF 480mm x 290mm (half the arc). Then I used this bow to join the dots on the MDF template. I cut the half arc out with a jigsaw and drew round it onto the dry assembled stiles and top rail. Then I flipped it over and drew round it again. I now had the top arc marked on the stiles and top rail, so I cut it out with the jigsaw. Next I used this hastily made tool to draw the inner arc which ensured it was equi-distant from the outer arc. It looked right so I knocked the stiles and rail apart and cut out the inner arc with the jigsaw.

Using this method, I didn’t need to swing a big arc with a trammel or be concerned about accurately finding the centre of the circle. The arc looked right on the Sketchup drawing, so I was confident it would look right on the gate.

-- Andy -- "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." (Michelangelo)

View newTim's profile


601 posts in 3184 days

#14 posted 09-26-2010 03:15 AM

Thanks Brit… yes, I use sketchup. Out here in the colonies we still use the imperial measures so I’ll have to do some converting. :) So, after converting the width and height of the outer and inner arcs to imperial, god save the queen, and using one of the millions of handy on-line conversion calculators, I came up with an outer radius of 21.6” or 548.63mm, and an inner radius of 18.48” or 469.39mm. It is a hot day in Sacramento so I’m hiding indoors and doing my geek thing. The gate is about 38” wide x 69” tall with about 5.7” stiles.

Maybe to other folks a gate is just a gate, but here on Lumber Jacques it is a work of art. Nice job. Thanks for all the info.

-- tim hill

View Brit's profile


6845 posts in 2420 days

#15 posted 09-27-2010 02:52 AM

Actually Tim, I think the outer radius would be more like 27.3” and the inner radius 21.6” which would make the rail width 5.7”. Like I said though, I didn’t swing an arc, I plotted it. I’m old enough to be comfortable working in either imperial or metric, but since the wood I bought was sold by the metre, I went with metric on this project.

-- Andy -- "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." (Michelangelo)

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