How to Build a Small Gate

Updated February 21, 2017

All wooden gates share similar elements and building requirements. Building a small wooden gate is a simple project that does not require special tools or advanced construction skills. First, construct a rectangular frame and brace it to prevent warping. Then attach infill material to the frame to complete the gate. As with any construction project, starting with a sketch, including dimensions, materials and supplies provides a valuable reference tool that helps to organise the building process.

Sketch your plan for the gate. Include dimensions for the rails, stiles and infill material. Four wooden corner braces will be positioned diagonally and attached to the corners of the frame. Set the chop saw to make 45-degree cuts. Two rails, two stiles and four wooden corner braces will all be cut at 45 degrees.

Set one 2-by-4-inch plank on the table of the saw with the 4-inch sides horizontal. Hold the plank firmly against the guide fence and trim off the end of the plank. Refer to the dimensions on your sketch to measure and mark the longest side of the first rail to length. Cut the rail at 45 degrees with the cut ends of the plank convergent, not parallel. Measure, mark and cut a second rail to the same length. Measure and mark the 2-by-4-inch plank to the length of the stiles. Cut two stiles, again, with convergent ends.

Place a 1-by-4-inch plank on the table of the saw with the 4-inch sides horizontal. Holding the plank firmly against the guide fence, trim off the end of the plank. Divide the length of the shortest framing member by two. This will be the length of the longest sides of the wooden braces. Mark the 1-by-4-inch plank to the length of the brace. Cut the plank at 45 degrees with the cut ends convergent. Cut three more braces to the same length.

Assemble the frame like a rectangular picture frame on a flat surface. The corners should form 90-degree mitred joints. Place a steel brace on an outside corner of the frame, centred to the thickness of the planks. Use a drill, driving bit and wood screws to affix the steel brace to the corner of the frame. Repeat to install a brace on each corner.

Place the wooden braces diagonally across the corners of the frame with the cut edges of the braces aligned to the outside edges of the rails and stiles. Attach the brace to one side of the first corner, with three evenly-spaced wood screws. Place a carpenter's square on the corner and adjust the positions of the framing members if necessary to square the first corner. Once the corner is squared, attach the other end of the brace to the frame. Repeat to brace the three remaining corners.

Turn the frame over. Arrange infill material such as pickets across the frame. Attach the infill material to the frame, using screws, a drill and a driving bit. If pickets are used, they should be attached with two screws in each end. The finished gate may be installed with appropriate hardware.


Once the frame is constructed, you can add just about any type of infill material you like. This type of gate frame will support other infill materials such as wire mesh and bamboo.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil and paper
  • Measuring tape
  • Chop saw
  • 2-by-4-inch pressure-treated lumber
  • 1-by-4-inch pressure-treated lumber
  • 3-inch steel corner braces
  • Drill with driving bit
  • Coated or galvanised wood screws, 1-1/2 inches long
  • Infill pickets
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About the Author

Denise Nyland "Denisen" is a long term resident of Panama City, Fla. She studied radiologic sciences and education and has published articles in multiple professional journals and contributed to various educational texts.