Finished product first of course.
Yes, there is an automatic opener on its way, along with real lights. No, I'm not worried about the dog crawling under the gate, she has her own 1/4 acre out back. There are hedges and roses coming to fill in the gaps. This is for privacy and karma.
The gate plans back from the designer. These gates used a combination of 2×12, 2×10, 2×6, 2×4, and 1×4
The shopping list looked like:
4' x 1/2" dowel x1
6" strap hinge x9
striker latch x1
thumb latch x1
24" cane bolts x2
1/4" x 6" carriage bolts x 9 1/2" x 2" lag bolts x11
1/2" x 4" lag bolts x9
60lb premix concrete bag x55
5/8" rebar x20'
12" x 1-1/4" eyebolt (galvanized) x1
3/16 aircraft cable x 20'
10" x 1000lb stainless turnbuckle x1
solar lights x4
outdoor UV-rated polyurethane x2 (gallons)
And the post layout
Pippa getting karma for blindly chasing deer through the vineyard and up the hillside. Shes fine.
I was unloading lumber and I heard a faint yelp. There is 5 acres of vineyard behind me and then mountains, and we get lots of deer that she loves to chase. After about 1/4 mile I got close to the yelping and turns out it wasn't her, instead it was a blue-jay mimicking her yelp. The jay kept yelping every couple seconds, and after a few minutes of calling, Pippa came barreling out of the bushes with this hanging off her face.
All the materials. Yes, its construction lumber. SPF (spruce/pine/fir)
Originally I was going to try for 100% Fir or Pine, but after digging through the lifts of lumber I realized that I was going to have to compromise on the species in order to get straight, stable lumber. I opted out of a stain at this point, as staining something like SPF would result a ton of different tones going on. Spruce is a waxy, closed-pore softwood that accepts stain poorly. Pine takes a ton of conditioning, and Fir can become very dramatic (flaming grain) if you go too dark.
Playing around with profiles
I initially wanted something with a 'busy' top rail profile. These samples also helped me dial in the mortise and tenon proportions. I opted for a 1/2" mortise which I cut with a hollow-chisel mortiser. This left 1/2" of wood on either side of the mortise. (The material is 1-1/2" thick)
Definitely getting closer
Fuck digging holes in sandy condition. I used a 12" gas auger and finished them off with a post hole digger and a breaker bar
The only advice I can give for digging in these conditions is to have a podcast or something going on because its going to be a slow go. I let the gas auger get about 40" down before it started taking the inner walls of the hole apart. I switched to hand tools and water and very slowly finished the holes off. The water helps stabliize the walls of the hole, and also makes it a little easier to pull material out with the post hole digger. There was no easy option for the rocks. They were all grapefruit-sized and has to be removed one at a time. Im thinking a little stone and mortar fire pit is coming up next.
All in all the holes averaged 20" diameter at the top, mushroomed out to about 30" at the bottom, and 48" deep. Also, Goose
The diagonal braces are screwed into some simple 1×2 stakes I made from cut offs. The horizontal braces are setting the spacing on the post, accurate to a 1/16" of an inch. All you do is take a piece of lumber wider than your post-to-post, and add blocks that will set the spacing of the inside of each post. Make sure you use two braces per post and the spacing blocks are identical. With this method, as long as your first post is level, all the post will come out level.
15 bags of 60lb premix. I'm no concreter so I'm hoping a little soil around the edges will help… blend
You can see the spacer block on the inside of the brace
So the small gate is 37" wide. The hinge needs 9/16" and the stopper is 3/4" thick. I wanted a 1/4" space between the gate and the stopper. I took some 40" 1×4 and set blocks at exactly 38-9/16" to make sure that is exactly my post spacing top and bottom.
This setup has more braces than Appalachia if orthodontics were free
And string. I couldn't have built this without 2 15' lengths of string and a couple of trusty line-levels. I built the gates to have identical rail layouts and I needed to ensure that when it was all installed, everything lined up perfectly.
Making sure the profile doesn't look too dramatic
I'm ensuring that the low sides of the large and small gate line up, as well as the high side of the large gates match the high middle of the small gate.
Found this little guy smothered in sawdust. Rinsed him off and found a nice, wood-bug rich corner of the yard for him
The small gates top rail
The profile was cut with a bandsaw, using a 3/4" blade. I probably should've went with a 3/8 or 1/2" blade, but with a few relief cuts and taking it very slow, it came out just fine. In the background is the table saw and router table used to cut the upcoming dadoes and tenons.
All the parts, as per the plans
Tenons half done
The only way I like to cut this many tenons is starting with the table saw for the first cut (which also determines the length of the tenon), then I finish them off on the bandsaw. Its possible to cut them on a router table, with a handheld router, a circular saw. or just a hand saw and a chisel.
Double checking to avoid awkward-looking proportions
I won't admit how badly I wanted to make this setup 10' tall, but it was bad
The small gate ended up being 78" tall x 37" wide. The large gates are 71-5/8" wide x 78" tall.
Missed a few photo ops, so to catch you up here is the styles all mortised up, and the rails with a dado cut to accept the slats
I cut the mortises on a hollow-chisel mortiser. 1/2" x 2-3/4" deep. I dont know if the outline is visible, but I tried to keep the mortises as far away from the end of the style as possible.
Rails for the large gates, cut to profile, tenoned and dadoed
I leave as much tenon on as possible until all the mortises are finished up. I'd rather trim a tenon 2 or 3 times than have a loose joint. You can see the same offset on the top tenons as were on the bottom, again this is to keep the mortise as far away from the end of the board as possible.
Dry fitting everything
I cut 2 spacers for every slat, plus a ton of extra. The small gate needed a 6mm space, and the large gates needed 8mm. Yes, I'm Canadian and we use both units here.
If you ever need to space slats like this and want every gap identical, here's what I did- (for this type of stuff I have to use metric, but maybe I'll try an imperial attempt)
Total space to fill- 1619mm
width of slat- 89mm
-just guessing maybe 16 slats would do it?
=16 x 89mm =1424mm
so 16 slats would cover 1424mm
1619-1424=195mm195mm is how much space will not be covered by slats.
There are 16 slats, which equals 17 spaces
195mm / 17 spaces = 11.47mm per space. This was too large for the look I wanted, so I opted for 17 slats.
17 x 89mm = 1513mm
1619 (total space to fill) – 1513 = 106mm
106mm / 18 spaces (always # of slats+1 for spaces) = 5.889 mm. Perfect spacing.
I don't know if this sort of calculation would be as easy in imperial, but lets give it a shot
Trying 17 slats-
Total space to fill 63-3/4"
Width of slat 3-1/2"
17 slats x 3-1/2" = 59-1/2"
63-3/4" – 59-1/2" = 4-1/2"
59-1/2" will be covered by 17 slats, which give us 4-1/2" for 18 spaces
4-1/2" / 18 = 1/4" spacing.
Yup. It was about as easy as metric. Mostly I worry about these things coming down to 16ths and 32nds. But this time I probably could have just used imperial.
Laying out the different options for hardware
I opted out of the door handle, in favor of the thumb-latch, because I'm sure the handle would survive much wood movement. Between the posts and the gates I'm sure things are going to adjust over time. The thumb latch I went with will handle a ton of movement before it needs adjustment.
Mortise and tenon locked with dowel
After the glue had dried and I was confident that joint was strong and stable, I drilled through with a 1/2" forstner bit and drove 1/2" dowels through. I left about 3/4" sticking out of on both side, and after the glue dried I took a reciprocating saw with a metal blade and flush-cut the dowels down. I know, theres probably a fancy Japanese saw for this, but for 99% of my flush cutting my go-to is the recip saw.
Skipped photos of the first 4 coats of polyurethane. I used a UV-rated outdoor, water-based poly and brushed it on
I didn't wet sand or polish. I did do a very light first and second coats with short dry times (90 minutes), then a heavy third and fourth coat with 24 hours in between. If I wanted to give it a mirror finish I would have wet sanded (gradually moving from 400 grit-1200 grit) after third and fourth coats, followed by (possibly a fifth coat, as wet sanding does remove some material) a polish with a either a bees wax or exterior furniture polish or even carnuba automotive wax. Maybe thats something I'll consider in the spring.
First gate up
The braces worked. If you look closely you can see a 2×4 I attached between to the posts to catch the gate like a ledge. This way I was able to set the gate on the ledge, and take a nice long look at all the gaps and spacing without wrestling it to keep in place. As it turned out, the spacer/braces did their job perfectly, and all gaps and lines were spot on.
Didn't want a traditional pergola top, so I kept it simple and functional
I did notch it into the top of the post. I cutout 1-1/2" into the post, and a 45 degree angle. Just set the depth of your circular saw to 1-1/2" for the diagonal cut, then max our the depth and cut the top and side of the post. The rest was finished off with the recip saw. 7" carriage bolts and about a 1/2 pound of PL adhesive kept the arch in place. The functional purpose is to tie the two posts together for strength. Each post has about 900lbs of conrete, but I was still worried about the large gate causing a sag. I figure the small gate is no issue for that must weight, so by tying them together I'm relying on the outside post to lend a little strength should the inside post ever need it. On the opposite side I used an anchor pad and some cable to resist pulling inwards.
My neighbors warned me about assassin beetles. As soon as it got cold they started showing up everywhere
Dug an 18"x36" hole and poured this small block to anchor into for support. Used 3/16 aircraft cable and a 1000lb turnbuckle
I got a 12' long x 1-1/4" galvanized eye bolt, I left the nut and large washers on as well I tied 2 peices of 5/8 x 15" rebar to it. This pad itself has 2 layers of rebar, and for extra measure I pounded 2 pieces of 3' rebar way down and tied into the lower rebar.
There is 900lbs of concrete holding the post, and another 300lbs holding the anchor. Gate weighs 100lbs
Only time will tell if this setup is going to sag. Hoping it doesn't. This is an OK shot of the ledge used to hold the large gates while installing (2×4 across the bottom, another shout-out to how valuable a string can be in lining up gates).
The hinges use a 4" and a 2" lag bolt. The hinges secure to the gate with a 1/4" carriage bolt and some #6 wood screws.
I'm not looking forward to ripping out the old rotten fence around this property
Almost done. Just need a couple small pads for the cane bolts, and some hardware
Another shot of the ledge across the two gates. I used a small block to keep it perfectly level while I checked gaps and clearances. And another shout-out to string for aligning those solar lights.
The property was vacant last winter and the deer did some serious damage to the hedges
There are more hedges coming, if not this weekend than in the spring, along with some rose bushes or something to flank the gates and hide the anchor.
Even going with a clear finish, the Fir and Pine ended up really contrasting along the left side of this gate.
The workshop build will be coming soon. So far reframed the entire thing after a massive, post-grow op gutting
The cane bolts pads are in. I hate when people perfectly center these things, so common
The cane pads took 3 bags of 60lb premix concrete. They are all 6" deep, the secondaries are 6"x6" and the center is 20" x 14". I drilled 11/16" holes with a hammer drill right through to soil, so water drains.
Thumb latches are neat
It was a little unsettling drilling a 3/4" hole clear through though.
Canes and the latch
Found this badass scaling a window
Backside moneyshot. Center pad for cane bolts perfectly off center
They swing, secondary cane pads seem to work well
Couple of cheap solar lights until I run a line out. There is an auto opener on its way too
The light output is laughable, but the housing is sure pretty
Pippa and Goose keeping warm