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Making Wood Gates & Posts - Part 3

More decorative structures can be constructed using the second structural support post, such as pergolas and arbors, that can be covered in vines if so desired.

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While the standard wood gate is approximately 3 feet wide, which allows for accessibility by wheelchairs and most gardening tools, there is no right or wrong width size.

Figure 8 - Turnbuckle

If you have an exceptionally wide gate you can distribute some of the leveraged load by connecting a steel wire with the use of a turnbuckle, as shown in Figure 8, to the far side of the gate and the hinge side gate post, as shown in Figure 9.

Wide gate installation using steel wire and turnbuckles
Figure 9- Wide gate installation using steel wire and turnbuckles
12″ gate hinge
Figure 10 - 12″ gate hinge

The gate hinges should be as long as possible as a longer hinge provides more support than a shorter hinge. Figure 10 is a 12 inch, T style steel gate hinge.

It is best to use stainless steel hinges, latches, screws and fasteners, throughout the entire project. Hinge screws should be at least 2 inches long and should be the maximum diameter that the hinge will handle.

Wood Gate Construction:

Construction of the gate itself is relatively simple.

  • Measure the opening between the two gate posts.
  • Determine the gate height. This is completely arbitrary as there are no standards for gate heights.
  • Build a frame using 2 x 3 or 2 x 4 lumber, as shown in Figure 11, using the gate opening dimension less 1 inch and the desired height less 8 inches for the dimensions. As an example, if the gate opening was 40 inches and the desired finished gate height was 48″, the frame would be 39 inches (40 - 1) wide and 40 inches long (40 - 8).
  • Ensure that the frame is perfectly square by measuring the diagonals, as shown in Figure 12.
  • Insert a diagonal piece of framing to hold the frame square, as shown in Figure 13.
  • Fasten the slat boards to the frame, as shown in Figure 14. The slats should be mounted with 4 inches of material above and below the gate frame. Note: it is highly likely that one of the slats will have to be ripped to width to cover the gate frame without overlapping the sides.
Measure diagonals
Figure 12 - Measure diagonals
Insert diagonal
Figure 13 - Insert diagonal
Mount slats to frame
Figure 14 - Mount slats to frame

For tall gates, over 4 feet high, the addition of a center horizontal cross support will add to the stability of the gate, as shown in Figure 15.

Additional cross support added to gate frame
Figure 15 - Additional cross support added to gate frame