How to Build a Gate for a Picket Fence

Written by mary lougee
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How to Build a Gate for a Picket Fence
Perfectly matched picket fence and gate. (house with picket fence image by Michael Shake from

Building the gate for a picket fence is the last part of the fencing project. A picket fence gate may have many designs to match the fencing in the same size pickets with even spacing or it may entirely different from the fence itself so that it is a focal point. Determining the gate width and location before installing a picket fence will ensure its usefulness as a walk-through gate.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • 2 fence posts
  • Circular saw
  • 3 fence rails
  • Plywood
  • Pickets
  • Spacer
  • Drill and screws
  • 2 hinges
  • 1 latch

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  1. 1

    Measure the distance between the gatepost and the hinge post and subtract 1/2 inch. This measurement will be the gate's width. The gatepost is the post that the gate latches to, and the hinge post is the post on the other side of the gate opening for the hinges to mount the gate. Leaving 1/4 inch on each side of the gate between posts will allow clearance when the gate is opening and closing.

  2. 2

    Cut two fence rails to the gate width measurement. Place on a flat surface of plywood on the ground so that they are spaced the same distance from the top and bottom of the pickets as the fence. Nail the rails to the sheet of plywood. The gate rails should be in the same position as the fence rails for a uniformly matching gate. Screw the two rails to the sheet of plywood for stability. Measure the distance from the top right fence rail to the bottom left fence rail and cut the third fence rail at a 45-degree angle on each end so that it touches both top and bottom rails diagonally. Screw the diagonal rail to the plywood and to each horizontal rail.

  3. 3

    Screw the first picket to the top and bottom rails on one side of the gate. Use the same picket spacer that was used on the picket fence and place next to the first picket. Place the second picket next to the spacer and screw to the top and bottom rails. Continue with pickets to the other end of the gate.

  4. 4

    Remove the gate from the plywood by removing the nails.

  5. 5

    Attach hinges to the gate and post with screws about 2 inches from the top and bottom of the gate. Attach the gate latch assembly to the gate and gatepost in the centre of the top and bottom hinges.

  6. 6

    Place level on the top rail of the gate and adjust screws to obtain horizontal levelling so that the gate opens and shuts smoothly.

Tips and warnings

  • Space the top and bottom hinges an equal distance from the top and bottom of the gate so that the gate will swing levelly and not cause stress on the hinges.
  • Creating a rounded, solid, picket fence gate uses the same method of making the gate frame and then screwing pickets firmly across the face so they are touching each other. Cutting the arch across all of the pickets forms an arch.
  • Use stainless hinges, hardware and screws that do not rust for a long-lasting picket fence gate.

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