How to build a wooden gate door

Updated July 20, 2017

Wooden gates are an attractive way to finish a fence or outdoor wall. Building your own gate can allow for affordable customisation but it requires a bit of planning. Check your local building codes before beginning construction. There may be restrictions for the size, style and location of yard structures in your area. Some areas may also require a permit. Also, while two 10 by 10 cm (4 by 4 inch) pressure treated posts will support most gates, if your gate will be larger or heavier than usual, use bigger posts.

Setting up posts

Decide the location, height and width of the gate you want to build. Record this information with a pencil and paper. Your gate’s posts will need to be at least 1/3 longer than the gate’s height.

Space the 10 cm by 10 cm (4 by 4 inch) posts 2.5 cm (1 inch) farther apart than the width of your gate. Mark the locations for the centre of the posts on the ground with spray paint.

Dig a hole for the first post using a post hole digger. The hole should be at least 30 cm (12 inches) wide and deep enough to be below frost level, or 1/3 of the post’s length, depending on building codes. Repeat for the second hole.

Add 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches) of gravel to the bottom of the holes. Set the posts in their holes. Brace the posts with scrap wood or other material. Check that they are level with a spirit level.

Mix the concrete according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Fill the holes with concrete. Recheck the posts for level. Let the concrete cure according to the manufacturer’s directions.


Measure the width of the space between your support posts with a tape measure to ensure it is 2.5 cm (1 inch) wider than your planned gate. Measure the height of the posts from ground level. They should be 5 cm (2 inches) taller than your planned gate. Record your measurements. Adjust your gate’s dimensions, if necessary. The adjusted dimensions will be the ones used when measuring and cutting the lumber.

Mark and measure two of the 5 by 10 cm (2 by 4 inch) boards to the width of your gate. Cut them to length with a circular saw.

Add at least 6 mm (1/4 inch) to the width of your fence board to allow gaps for expansion. Divide the width of your gate by this number to determine how many fence boards you need. If it is not a whole number, you will need to adjust your layout. The easiest way is to widen the spacing between the boards until they fit exactly.

Cut the fence boards to the height of your gate. Make sure to cut from the bottom if your boards have a decorative edge.

Line up the fence boards on a flat, level surface. Check that the ends are straight by using the level as a straight edge.

Place a 5 by 10 cm (2 by 4 inch) board on the fence boards, with its 10-cm (4-inch) side touching them. Measure that it is 30 cm (12 inches) from the top of the fence boards. Draw a line on the fence board along the edges of the 5 by 10 cm (2 by 4 inch) board.

Place the second 5 by 10 cm (2 by 4 inch) board on the fence boards, with the 10-cm (4-inch) side down, 30 cm (12 inches) from the bottom edge. Outline this board as well.

Measure the distance from the right side of the top board’s lower edge to the left side of the bottom board’s upper edge. Record this measurement.

Mark and measure another5 by 10 cm (2 by 4 inch) board to the recorded measurement. Cut to length. This will be your cross brace. (Note: For many gates, you may use 2.5 by 10 cm (1 by 4 inch) boards; a 5 by 10 cm (2 by 4 inch) board framed and braced gate can be heavy.)

Cut one end of the cross brace at a 45-degree angle with a mitre box and hand saw. Turn the brace and cut the same angle on the opposite end.

Place the cross brace between the top and bottom boards. It should form a “Z” shape.

Drill pilot holes into the cross brace to the top and bottom boards with the drill and screwdriver bit. Drive 75-mm (3-inch) nails into the pilot holes to attach the braces.


Lay the attached braces on a flat, level surface.

Place the fence boards along the top and bottom braces, using the outlines from earlier as guides. Make sure there is at least a 6 mm (1/4-inch) gap between each one. You can create a spacer from scrap wood to help make the gaps even. Check that the ends are lined up straight with the spirit level.

Drill pilot holes in the fence board at the top and bottom braces. Drill two holes at each brace.

Drive screws into the pilot holes in the fence boards to attach them to the braces.


Lift the gate into place between the support posts, with the braces facing the yard, with the help of a partner. There should be a 13 mm (1/2-inch) clearance on each side. Place wood scraps under the gate to ensure proper ground clearance.

Stand on the inside of the gate. Place heavy-duty gate hinges against the support post on your right and on the horizontal braces. Outline their positions and holes. Remove the gate. This will allow your gate to swing in.

Drill pilot holes in the hole markings of the gate and post.

Place the top hinge back against the post. Match the hinge’s holes to the pilot holes. Drive 75-mm (3-inch) screws into the holes to attach the hinge. Repeat this for the bottom hinge.

Lift the gate back into position with a partner’s help. Line up the hinges with the pilot holes in the gate. Drive 25-mm (1-inch) screws into the holes to hang the gate.

Place the latch against the left side post and gate. The latch should be toward the top of a short gate or halfway up a taller gate.

Attach the latch according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Different latch styles will have different requirements.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • 2 pressure treated wood posts, 10 cm by 10 cm (4 inch by 4 inch) or larger
  • Spray paint
  • Post hole digger
  • Gravel
  • Spirit level
  • Concrete mix
  • Tape measure
  • Pressure treated wood boards, 5 cm by 10 cm (2 inch by 4 inch) or 2.5 cm by 10 cm (1 inch by 4 inch)
  • Circular saw
  • Fence boards in desired style
  • Mitre box
  • Hand saw
  • Drill with screwdriver bit
  • Screws, 75-mm (3-inch)
  • Screw, 25-mm (1-inch)
  • 2 heavy-duty gate hinges
  • Latch
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About the Author

Violet Woelfel began writing in 2007. She served as a reporter for "The East Texan" campus newspaper and has been published in "The Commerce Journal." Woeifel has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Texas A&M University-Commerce.