Building a large garden gate

Another friend needs a garden gate! The front of this house has a gap in a high wall but no gate in it. The area can have high winds at times so this gate will need to be extra strong to withstand the weather. In this project I will design and build a gate to fit this space. Here's the process, plans and results!

First up was measuring the space available. The wall and pillars around this are fairly new so they're quite consistently sized. However, the walls and pillars are built with stone so securing the gate to the pillars will be a little tricky. The plan is to secure it directly into the masonry joints using either standard screws or stronger coach screws is needed. I'll be using a timber jamb between the gate and the pillars on both sides. That will allow me to fit the hinges in the workshop so I know they're squared up properly and on the opposite side I will be able to have the gate close against the jamb which will give it good support in very windy weather.

After sketching out a few options on paper, we selected one with a triangular panel feature at the top which mirrors the window design on the house it's being installed for. It's a nice feature and should be interesting to manufacture. The frame material will be the all same dimensions, 75mm x 44mm (3" x 2" PAO) except for the bottom cross member which I'll beef up to 94mm x 44mm (4" x 2" PAO). The joinery will be mortise and tenon, with haunched tenons in the corners. The joint to support the angle in the top feature panel will be a hidden tenon. I'll use 12mm tongue and groove red deal to fill in the framed panels. To make sure these are as strong as possible, I'll use a router to create a housing joint in the middle of each panel so the T&G panelling is supported on all sides. First things first, I drew it up to scale with SketchUp to see what it might look like.

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 lowest crossmember, and I will use 12mm tongue & groove to fill in the panels.

  • 2 x 75 x 44mm x 2200mm White Deal PAO (long uprights)
  • 3 x 75 x 44mm x 1100mm White Deal PAO (middle cross members)
  • 2 x 75 x 44mm x 650mm White Deal PAO (top angled cross members)
  • 1 x 95 x 44mm x 1100mm White Deal PAO (bottom cross member)
  • 1 x 75 x 44mm x 2300mm White Deal PAO (bolt side jamb)
  • 1 x 95 x 44mm x 2300mm White Deal PAO (hinged side jamb)
  • 5 x 4800mm Lengths Red Deal T&G (panelling)
  • Hinges, Bolt(s), clear preservative and exterior satin varnish.

Building the frame

After visiting the local builders providers, I began by marking the mortise locations. I used minimal marks so I will have less clean up later on. Most of the work with mortising it setting up the machine correctly so you really just need marks to show the edges where you stop cutting. I always use a bit smaller than the mortise and cut from both sides so that the mortise ends up perfectly centered in the wood.

Next, I set the chop saw up with the correct depth and a stop block to cut the tenon shoulders. Next up, I marked out the angled tenons and then set about cutting away the cheek material and finished that up with a hand chisel. You could cut the cheeks with a table saw or using a router with a flat bit or by hand if needs be! I dry fitted each of the joints and did any cleaning up and such with a standard hand chisel. For the angles joint I cut a mortise opened to the end grain and then cut away more of the tenon to fit into that ensuring the shoulders met up perfectly.

To make a strong frame for the T&G panelling, I used a 12mm flat bit in the router to cut a housing (dado) joint on the inside of each panelled piece. I made these 10mm deep and I squared the ends then with a hand chisel. In retrospect, it would have been better to shorten the width of the tenons and have then shouldered on all sides but it really made little difference aside from needing a bit of jiggling to fit the last bits of the panelling.

With all of the frame now manufactured I checked it all with a full dry fit first and then I was ready to cut the T&G panelling to fill the frames.

Adding the T&G Panels

When adding the panelling I could not just start on one side and add boards to fill the space because the top panel has an apex in the triangle design which would look wrong if the T&G isn't perfectly centered to it. I really wanted one of the V grooves to line up centered with that apex on the front so I ripped the first T&G boards lengthwise to ensure that the middle boards would be perfectly centered throughout the frames. The grooves you see in the photos are the back of the T&G boards which are the edges of the boards, from the front you will see the V groove aligns with that apex perfectly and makes the gate look balanced and correct.

I cut and dry fitted each of the T&G panelling boards to make sure I had it right. Then, I glued it up and left it to dry held together with sash clamps.



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

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