How to build a picket gate

Updated March 20, 2018

You've just finished your new picket fence, and now all it needs is a gate. There isn't much to it. Just gather together a few extra pickets and some of the railing material you used for your fence. And you'll need some matching hinges and a gate latch that will go well with the wood you used for the pickets. Before you know it, you'll have the perfect gate to welcome--or keep out--your neighbours and friends.

Measure the gate entrance, and with a hand saw, cut two pieces of 2-by-4 rail material about 1/2-inch shorter than this measurement.

Lay these two pieces parallel on a flat surface, either flat on their 4-inch sides or on their edges, matching the orientation of the rails on the fence. Space them the same distance as the rails on the fence.

Set a picket on these gate rails so that the top will be at the same height as the tops of the fence pickets when you hang the gate. Use a combination square to make sure that the picket and the rails are perpendicular, and then screw the picket to both rails with 1 1/2-inch screws. Set another picket at the other end of the rails, and, making sure it is perpendicular, screw it to the rails.

Turn the gate over, and set another 2-by-4 on the rails so that it stretches diagonally from one top corner to the opposite bottom corner. This will be a brace. Use a pencil to mark the lines made by the inside edges of both rails on the brace, then remove it and cut along these lines with a hand saw. Replace the brace so that it fits diagonally inside the top and bottom rails, and secure it with screws.

Turn the gate back over and attach pickets at the same spacing as the pickets on the fence. You may have to adjust this spacing so that you can get a whole number of pickets on the gate and have the same spacing between all of them.

Screw the gate hinges onto the backs of the top and bottom rails. Support the gate on a block so that the hinge pins are tight against the gate post, and screw the hinges to the post. Note that with this orientation of the hinges, the gate will open toward the inside of the fence.

Attach the two pieces of the latch to the front of the gate and to the opposite gate post, according to the instructions that came with the latch.


If you are making a gate for an old fence with posts that are leaning, add a shim to the post on which you attach the gate so that the gate will have a straight surface from which to hang.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Combination square
  • Pencil
  • 2-by-4 railing material
  • Hand saw
  • Pickets
  • Drill
  • 1 1/2-inch screws
  • Matching hinges and gate latch
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Chris Deziel has a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's degree in humanities. Besides having an abiding interest in popular science, Deziel has been active in the building and home design trades since 1975. As a landscape builder, he helped establish two gardening companies.