How to set a gate hinge

Updated February 21, 2017

Setting hinges to properly install a wooden gate is a simple job that requires no special tools or advanced knowledge of woodworking. Depending on the weight of the gate, two to three hinges are typically used. For adequate support, at least two of the hinges should be securely affixed to the horizontal rails of the gate frame. The hinges are attached to the gate while it is conveniently resting on a flat surface. After positioning the gate where it will be installed and using shims to hold it level and in place, screwing the mounting plates of the hinges to the gate post takes only a few minutes.

Turn the gate hinge-side up on a flat surface. Position the hinges on the hinge-side of the gate so their straps are aligned to the centres of the horizontal rails of the gate and the edges of the hinge straps closest to the pivot aligned with the edge of the gate. Mark the positions of the screw holes in the hinge strap on the gate by passing the tip of a pencil through each screw hole. Remove the hinges and drill pilot holes through the screw-hole marks. Reposition the hinges. Using screws provided in the hinge kits, attach the hinges to the gate with a drill and driving bit.

Stack 2 to 4 inches of scrap lumber between the gate posts to support the gate while you mount the hinges to the gate post. Set the gate on the planks and centre it between the posts. The hinge-side of the gate must be flush with the gate post where you will install the hinges. Set a carpenter's level on the rail or horizontal part of the gate frame. While you make sure that the gate stays straight and level, push shims between the gate and gate posts to hold the gate steady while you hang the gate. You may have to put shims between the support planks and the gate to hold the gate level.

Position the mounting plates of the hinges flat against the gate post. Mark the positions of the screw holes in the mounting plates on the gate post. Move the mounting plates out of the way and drill pilot holes through the screw-hole mark on the gate post. The pilot holes should be about the same length as the installations screws. Open the hinges to reposition the mounting plates on the post. Screw the hinges to the post, using a driving bit and the screws from the hinge kits.

Remove the shims from between the gate and gate posts. Firmly wedged shims may have to be knocked out with a mallet. Remove the planks from beneath the gate. The installed gate may be fitted with appropriate latching hardware and a gate stop, if necessary.


Especially heavy gates should be installed using specialised hinges that are often affixed to the gate and gate post with lag screws and a socket wrench. If three hinges are used, position the middle hinge halfway between the top and bottom hinges. The drill bit used to bore the pilot holes must be slightly smaller than the diameters of the threaded shanks of the screws. The distance between the gate and the ground depends on your personal preferences. If you are containing small pets, the gate should be positioned so the pets cannot crawl under it.

Things You'll Need

  • T-type hinge kits, including screws
  • Scrap lumber planks
  • Drill with drilling and driving bits
  • Carpenter's level
  • Wooden shims
  • Mallet
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

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.