Fence Gate - 1st project in years

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Project by EricTy posted 06-22-2012 06:05 PM 1383 views 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

With the girlfriend and her dog moving in, I had to make a gate for the end of the driveway. I have more projects to do that require dovetails, so I figured I’d practice on something that wouldn’t matter if it came out looking good or not so good.

Deep inside my mind I wanted something that met very strict standards:

1. It had to be as complicated as possible
2. It had to be design overkill
3. It had to open and close easily
4. It had to be quickly removable
5. It had to be weather resistant

I used Sketchup to do the design so I knew the lengths of each piece (of course I tweaked it on the fly). I used Excel to minimize waste.

The frame is made of Western Cedar 2×4’s and the diagonal is a 1×4. I used a shaker technique of notching the diagonals to give it inherent strength. I didn’t want the pickets to be part of the structure – I wanted them to be superficial. The frame of the gate should take all the load while the pickets should just hang there looking good. I picked straight boards (harder than I thought) at a place that specializes in Cedar. I didn’t bother planing or jointing. This is, after all, just an outside gate.

All the joints are well glued and I added some screws for piece of mind sake. The screws are all installed behind the pickets, so when you look from the backyard, you only see the joints.

I got to use my chisels for the first time. I didn’t expect cedar to work like Styrofoam. It just practically crumbles rather than cuts. Now I know why Tom, a friend of mine who’s a been there, done that kinda person, said I’ll like working with hardwoods more than softwoods.

The one gate is very square. The second, eh, not so much. The second is always supposed to be better than the first. I think I know what happened. I did, however, do much better on the second gate diagonal. For all the coping (half dovetails) of both gates, I used a router to remove nearly all the material. On the diagonal (the last two dovetails) I rough routed and used the chisel to finish up the notches. Took longer but a much tighter fit. Are we learning? Yes we are.

The hinges are simple strap hinges on a stud. I used the existing, prior, fence post near the house and installed 7/16” diam stainless bolts. I had to run the die down to increase the thread length. After the bolts were firmly tightened, I just ground the heads off. The other side uses a pressure treated 4×4 in a stamped sheet metal bracket that’s anchored to the concrete. Good idea but wrong application. I had Tom make one out of 1/4×3 x 3 angle to replace the sheet metal one. Installing it will be this weekend’s project.

The pickets are pressure treated 1×6’s from Lowes. I couldn’t beat the price at about $1.50 each. Nailed them on with three rows of three galvanized nails per picket and cut them to length in one fell swoop after the gate was done.

I can say I’m proud of my gates. They met all my criteria and do the ultimate functional job of keeping Mojo (all 30 lbs of him) from eating the neighbors pit bulls.

Next up is an interior gate to keep the cat from eating the dog.

-- Only you know the mistakes were intentional...

3 comments so far

View Tokolosi's profile


674 posts in 1775 days

#1 posted 06-22-2012 06:30 PM

I love it! That gate will be there when the house crumbles around it. Great joints. And good job on the overkill. Mission accomplished on all your design criteria.

PS. I think I would like your cat.

-- “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” ~ JRR Tolkien

View Skylark53's profile


2624 posts in 2480 days

#2 posted 06-22-2012 11:22 PM

Looks like it should hold up to a great deal of scrutiny and hard use as well! Well done!

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

View craigo's profile


54 posts in 1751 days

#3 posted 06-23-2012 10:21 PM

Looks like a lot of thought, time and care went into those gates! Nice job

-- making something from nothing, and making it your own... thats life.

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