Building a garden gate

Some friends of mine bought a townhouse in Galway city and allowed us to stay with them while our own house was completing. The front of their house has a very rusty angle iron framed gate that is well beyond its best years, so I offered to design and make a nicer gate for them. Here's the process, plans and results!

First up was measuring the space available. As with most older builds, the pillars and space this gate is to fit into is not a consistent size. There's a difference between the width at the top and bottom and at the front and back. Here I'll be using a timber jamb between the gate and the pillars on both sides. That will also allow me to square the space where the gate will be and lose the 20mm odd difference between the pillars in the manufacturing of the jamb. Getting that part right will mean I can build the actual gate square and be sure it'll swing true and not fall open. After I measure up and checked a few design options online, I sketched out a design on paper, and then drew it up in SketchUp.

After browsing some Google image searches for garden gates, I settled on a classic looking design with a solid lower part, and three vertical struts leading into a curved top bar. It's a nice feature and should not be too difficult to manufacture. The frame material will be the all same dimensions, 75mm x 44mm (3" x 2" PAO). The curved top part will be made from a piece that starts out as 4: x 2" PAO. I'll probably use a tongue and groove then as the fill for the bottom part of the frame.

„Alwaies measure manie, before you cut anie .“

- Giovanni Florio (1553–1625) -

Follow along to see progress. I'll generate a cutting list, show the marking out and manufacturing process, the finish, installation, and final views of it.

Cutting List

As you will see below the basic stock for this project is 75mm x 44mm planed white deal. This is often referred to as 3"x2" which is it's size before it gets 'planed all over' (PAO). Typically these come in lengths of 2400mm or 4800mm. In this project I will also use a piece of 4" x 2" to create the curved element, and I will use tongue & groove to fill in the panel and to manufacture the three vertical struts.

  • 2 x 75 x 44mm x 1400mm White Deal PAO
  • 2 x 75 x 44mm x 760mm White Deal PAO
  • 1 x 95 x 44m x 760mm White Deal PAO
  • 3 x 400mm Red Deal T&G (trimmed) for the vertical struts
  • 8 lengths Red Deal T&G for the panel
  • Hinges, Bolt, 1" panel pins and woodstain

Building the gate

First I marked the shoulders for the tenons on the three cross pieces and cut those out on the chop saw. I measured and marked one and used that to set the machine, adding a stop block which I then used to cut the rest without marking. I used the table saw then to cut the cheeks. Next up, I marked the place for the mortices and set up the tabletop mortice machine to cut those out. First I cut the ¾ depths and then reset the machine to cut the haunches about ⅓ deep. I dry fitted these to check and did any cleaning up and such with a standard hand chisel.

Next I cut three 400m lengths of the Red Deal tongue and groove. I ripped the groove and tongue off the sides of these pieces using the table saw and then I used a hand plane to tidy up the cuts the table saw made. Cutting longitudinally generally gives a rough finish and almost always needs planning to neaten it up. I used these pieces then to mark the width of the mortices they were to go into both on the 75mm cross member and the 95mm cross member which I would later cut the curve into. I cut the mortices into the curved part before cutting the curve so that it would sit easier (and safer) in the mortice machine for those cuts.

Once the mortices were safely cut in the 95mm cross member I set to work with the jigsaw to cut the curve. The jigsaw is a pretty rough tool, so I only used it to remove the bulk of the material and used the belt sander then to create the smooth curve. In the smoothing process, I marked any high points as I worked and sanded those marks off until I had created the neat curve required.

With all of the frame now manufactured I set about gluing and clamping the gate.

One everything dried, I took the gate out of the clamp and cleaned up any excess glue and sanded it to prepare for finishing. The finish used is a Ronseal 10 year woodstain and I applied two coats. I also cut some extra lengths to use for installing the gate in situ. I stained these also.

Next I fitted the hinges in the workshop, which makes installing the gate itself much easier later on. The hinges and the locking bolt are all galvanized steel so they will withstand weathering. Once the hinges were on, I loaded the van and brought the gate to its final destination. I marked a vertical line on the pillar with chalk and a spirit level and I used that to square the hinged jamb. I attached the jamb to the pillar with masonary nails. The pillars are quite old so I also had screws and a hammer drill on standby if the nails were not sufficient but they worked quite well on their own. Once the hingedjamb was installed I makred the otherwise so teh gate would have a second jamb to sit against when closed. I also used masonary nails to attach that to the opposite pillar. One that was complete, I installed the locking bolt and the job was complete.

Thank you for following along on this project! You can see more projects here and on @instasharkey

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