Constructing a wooden gate that will function properly for years is a simple project that can be accomplished by most novice handymen. A wooden gate consists of two main parts: a rectangular frame and infill. Mitred corner cuts and angled braces are used to strengthen the gate frame and to prevent warping. Using weather-resistant wood and coated fasteners ensures durability. This project requires common tools and may be completed in a couple of hours.
Measure and note the width of the opening between the gate posts. Subtract 1 inch from this dimension to calculate the width of the gate. For a nearly seamless visible transition between the fence and gate, the gate is built to the same height as the fence with the same spacing between the horizontal rails. Be sure, when calculating the height of the gate, to leave 1 to 2 inches of space between the ground and the bottom of the gate. Once you have determined the gate's dimensions, sketch the gate and include height and width measurements.
Refer to your sketch to measure and mark the horizontal framing members, called rails, and the vertical framing members, called stiles. The framing members are cut at 45-degree divergent angles on the ends so, when assembled, the frame has mitred corners. Set the chop saw to make 45-degree cuts. Cut the stiles and rails. Working on a flat surface, assemble the gate frame like a picture frame. "Toenail" the frame together at each corner by hammering one 3-inch nail across each mitred joint. The nails will temporarily hold the framing members in place while you attach the corner braces.
Cut four 1-by-6-inch planks to make matching trapezoid-shaped corner braces. The longest side of the brace should be one-fourth to one-third the length of the shortest framing member. Make 45-degree cuts. The length of the braces is less important than the symmetry of the frame, created by cutting all four braces the same length.
Install the first corner brace by aligning its mitred edges to the outer edges of the framing members. Use a drill and driving bit to securely screw the brace onto either a stile or rail. Use a carpenter's square to square the frame, then screw the other end of the brace in place. Repeat to attach the braces on the remaining corners. Reinforce the joints by screwing the braces to each framing member in four places, two on each end of the brace. The screws should be evenly spaced to distribute the stress of the joints across the braces.
Once the gate is squared and braced, reinforce the mitred corners by installing two 3-inch screws in each corner. The tips of the screws should extend at least 1 inch past the joint.
Turn the frame over on the flat surface to attach infill planks or pickets. Measure, mark and cut the planks or pickets to the desired length. Test-fit the infill on the frame to determine the number of planks needed and necessary spacing to replicate the appearance of the fence. Once you are satisfied with the positions of the infill planks, use a yardstick and a pencil to draw horizontal lines across the infill, where the planks cross the centres of the rails. These lines will help you place the screws that attach the infill to the rails in straight lines.
Attach the infill planks or pickets to the frame with screws, a drill and a driving bit. Each picket or plank should be attached to the rails in at least two places. The completed gate is ready to hang on the gateposts, using appropriate hardware.
Things you need
- 2-by-4-inch pressure-treated planks
- 1-by-6-inch pressure-treated planks
- Wooden infill boards
- Chop saw
- Carpenter's square
- Measuring tape
- Drill with drilling and driving bit
- Wood screws, 1 1/2 inches long
- Wood screws, 3 inches long
- Nails, 3 inches long