A step-by-step tutorial on how to build a wooden gate
I am so excited that I can say this, the rebuilding of our fence is now complete. The only thing left is waterproofing it, YAY!!! This post today is something we have wanted to do since moving into this house 3 years ago and that was to build a wooden gate.
Our old gate was a chain link one, worked, but we wanted something that closed off the space. The big problem of not doing it before was that the post holding it up was in really bad shape, aka: they needed to be replaced. So this year we decided on a whim to redo the fence and along with that install new post for the gate, plus we adding a pergola to spruce things up.
For this post, we are to the point of building and installing a gate. How about I show you our gate now?
What do you think? I think it all looks so much better. Do you want to know how we built the gate? Let me show you.
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BUILD A WOODEN GATE
The first thing we did (after sketching out our design) was measure the space we had for our gate. We wanted the gate to be almost to the top of our pickets, we didn’t want people to see in. So to get the size, we measured the height of the ground to the top of the pickets ( 73.5 inches). Then we measure the width between the post top, middle, and bottom; writing down the smallest number (47 inches).
Don’t look too close or you will notice that the post with the hinges is not straight making the gate not complete level (we tweaked it a little to make it better). The problem was because of one of our post bows at the top.
Now the tricky part, deciding the space between the posts and gate. To do this, we looked at our gate hinges (they are spring ones, self-closing) and decided how they needed to be placed on the post. SIDE NOTE: We originally were going to do it one way but found out after building the gate that was not going to work, making our gaps larger on one side then we planned. We ended up having our gate swing toward the backyard and the hinges were placed like this.
The gap on this side of our gate is about 1/4 inches to the post at the bottom & 1/2 inch on top (remember we had to tweak ours!). Our gap on the other side (latch side) is about 1.75 inches to the post. We would suggest this gap be more around 1 inch. Now with our width measurement of 47 inches, we subtracted the hinge gap (.25“) and the latch side ( 1.75″), we would want our finished gate to be 45″ wide.
For the height of the gate, we took the measurement of the ground to the top of the pickets and subtracted 2″, so ours would be 71.5 inches. So our finish gate needed to be 45″x71.5″.
Now we could cut our 2×4’s. We would need two pieces cut to the height of the gate, 71.5 inches (these are the sides). And we would need three pieces cut to the width of the gate minus 3″ (these will be between the side pieces), 42 inches.
Next, we took two of the 2×4 boards that will be used for the width of the gate, 42″ and we placed two Kreg Jig pockets on each end of the 4″ side of the board (one side of the board but on both ends).
After we needed to add a .75″x.25″ dado to the other side of the 2×4’s we just added pockets too. We finally purchased a compact router to do this job, we also got an edge guard to make things even easier. We cut the groove 1.75 inches away from the edge (this is on the 4″ side of the 2×4). We also added a dado to both sides of the other width board (making sure the distance from the edge is the same on both sides). These grooves will be used to slide wood between the frame.
We also needed to create a dado on part of the side boards (there are 2). We marked both boards 51.5 inches away from the bottom (this will depend on the top part of the gate, our finished top panel measurement was 18 inches). Then starting at the bottom to the marked spot we created a dado. The same way as before. TIP: Make sure you think about the distance from the side, 1.75 inches. The dado should be on opposite sides of these two boards.
Now we started to assemble the gate. First, we attached the middle 2×4 (the board that has a dado on both sides), to the side boards. This board was be placed 50.5 inches from the bottom of the sides, (the dado will be about 3/4″ into the middle board). TIP: Make sure your dado’s are all lining up (same distance from sides). We attached the middle board to make an “H”. We inserted the screws on the 2×4 sides into the middle board. We pre-drilled our holes first then used 3.5″ deck screws to attach the boards.
After we add the 5.5″ cedar pickets into the bottom section of the gate. Depending on how big your gate width is will depend on the number of pickets used, plus if some need to be cut down in size. We had to do this and we used a circular saw to make the cut. All the picket boards will need to be cut to the right height, ours are 49 7/8″. For the length of the pickets measure what the distance would be from groove to groove inside the frame and minus 1/8″ (this will give you some wiggle room). After cutting our pickets, we started to add them into the dado groove. Once we added them all, we took one of the width 2×4 (that has the pocket) and put all the pickets into that groove also (right next to each other). Then attach the bottom 2×4 to the side by using the pockets (we used 2.5″ deck screws). TIP: Make sure the side and bottom 2×4 are flush.
Now the bottom of the gate was complete.
For the top of the gate, you need to decide the gap you want. We decided we wanted a 1″ gap. So do your math and see how many pickets (3.5″) you need (we did end up having a 1.25″ on the ends to make things work). We would need 9 picket pieces to fill in our space. For the length of the pickets, measure what the distance would be from groove to groove inside the frame and minus 1/8″ (this will give you some wiggle room). We needed 18 7/8″ for ours. Next, you need to cut small little gap pieces, these will be 3/4″x the gap. Figure out the safest way to do this without cutting a finger, PLEASE!! (A circular saw with a 3/4″ cedar strip, or gap size, clamped down to something could be an idea). You will need enough to go between each picket (inside the dado) on both sides (we used a total of 20).
After cutting everything, we added all the pickets into the middle dado. Then we added the top 2×4 and inserted the pickets into that groove also. We then attached the top 2×4 the same way as we did the bottom. Now to space the boards, we took a small gap piece and added outdoor wood glue to one side. Then place it into one of the dados, making it flush with the side of the frame.
We placed another piece directly across for this piece. Then we moved one picket right next to the pieces. And again we placed another small gap piece right next to the picket. We continued this for the whole length. We then let the gate sit overnight to let the glue fully dry.
After the glue dried, we then added the back “X” brace to the gate (this is to make it sturdier). We added this to the 1.75 inch side of the gate. We did this by laying a 2×4 board on top of the bottom panel of the gate. Having one side of the board hitting the bottom corner and the other side hitting the top. Then take a pencil and mark the board at the angle to have it fit inside the frame. Then we took the board to the miter saw and adjusted the angle of the blade until it matched the marked board angle.
We then cut the board on both marked lines (you should not have to adjust the saw). After we checked the cut to make sure it fits inside the frame. While leaving that board there, we then took another 2×4 and placed it on the other side. We marked the angle of the corner plus where the board meets the other brace, we did this for both sides. We cut the corner angles first (because the saw was already at that angle). Then we adjusted the saw angle and cut the other angles. After we checked the fit of the 2×4 to the frame, adjusting if needed.
Then we added two Kreg Jig pockets to each of the angles that attach to the other brace (form the “X”). After we attached the braces together using 2.5-inch deck screws. TIP: After creating the pocket, place the 2×4’s back onto the frame to attach them together.
Once the “X” was created, we then turned the brace over and added 2 Kreg Jigs pockets to each angle.
After we placed the brace into the gate frame (the pockets used to create the “X” we are not showing) and attached to the frame using 2.5-inch deck screws.
We also decided to fill in all the Kreg Jig pockets with the pocket hole plugs. We did this by adding exterior wood glue into the pocket then pushing the plug into the hole. TIP: If you plan on staining the gate, stain the pocket hole plug first before installing them. We did not and because of the glue, they did not stain in all places, giving us an uneven stain on them.
At this point, your gate could be done but to give it a little extra, we decided to add a trim around the front panel. We did this by using 3.5-inch cedar pickets cut to the length of the bottom panel (4 sides). We attached them with glue then nailed them into place using 1.25-inch finishing nail (it’s better to use stainless steel nails but if not use galvanized). After the front of our gate looked like this.
What do you think? Maybe it would help to share a before picture?
To install the gate, we placed our spring hinges onto the gate. Then we placed a 2×4 scrap board on the ground and placing the gate on top of the board. Next, we attached the hinges to the fence post. TIP: Take a level and move the gate to make it level before drilling into the wood. We adjusted the springs after attaching the hinges. We also decided to use this latch and this one is pretty heavy-duty!
And here is our gate after all is said and done. What an amazing difference!
Anyone else need to build a new gate? I hope this tutorial will help you!
Find the other tutorials on Rebuilding A Cedar Fence:
Re-bracing Fence – PART 1
Installing Cedar Pickets – PART 2
Installing Post for Gate – PART 3
Building A Gate Pergola – PART 4
Building Gate – PART 5 (THIS POST)
Staining Fence – PART 6
Total Cost to Rebuild Fence – PART 7