Wooden gate problem

After having a new patio wall built, I decided that I would build my own Southwestern style gates.
One opening is 3' wide and the other is 4'. I decided to build the three-footer first to work out the kinks and then build 2 two-footers for the other opening.
So what I have is basically a 3' x 5' 3-panel door constructed from poplar. The styles and rails are ~5 inches wide and close to 2 inches thick. The top and bottom rail joints are thru mortise and tenon and the lock rail and center stile joinery is blind mortise-tenon.
The lower panel is a true floating panel, constructed from three 4/4 poplar panels with spline joints between them, with 3/8" tongues let into the stiles and rails.
The two upper "panels" are not true panels but consists of a number of skeletal ribs from dead Saguaro cactuses harvested on my property. These have been laboriously bleached, trimmed, soaked for days in preservative and individually hand fitted to grooves in the top and lock rails.
Because of my concerns about a Chinese fire drill glue-up I decided to try my hand at drawboring and pegging the joints. (I did pre-glue the center stile to the top and lock rail)
Each upper and lower joint is pegged with three 3/4" oak dowels with the holes drilled on the diagonal. The lock rail joints have just two dowels.
All exposed wood was painted before assembly with high-quality exterior latex enamel and then given another coat after assembly.
Now I'm not looking for any "I told you so"s but when this thing was put together, the RH in my garage shop was probably in the single digits. After hanging it, we had 35 days of over 100-degree weather.
I have read plenty about wood moving with humidity changes, so some of what follows was not unexpected, but what's happened in the last month since it's started to rain has been, shall we say, eye opening.
I'm able to see some splitting in the ends of tenons and on the upper end of one stile where wood movement has stressed the pegged joints. For the time being, I'm not worried about failure; as can be imagined, the joints are now really tight, but when this dries out again I imagine things will loosen up.
So to get to my questions:
1. I'm thinking that this fall when dew point is below zero, I'll knock this apart and do a glue-up after all. It seems to me that plastic resin glue will be the way to go. Am I off base?
2. I have the other two gates ready for assembly. Should I do it now with them "wet" or wait until it's dry again?
TIA
Wes
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I've used urethane glue on outdoor projects with good success. I did use western red cedar on my gates though.
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It's a shame to say it after you've done all the work, but do you really want to build something out of poplar and leave it out in the weather?
Poplar just doesn't have much resistance to moving, splitting and rotting when exposed to weather. No matter how you paint it, you can't prevent water from getting in somewhere.
I'm not sure that the glue is your major problem.
Old Guy

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Thanks.
This was a case of having most of the material on hand and at least it was very straight-grained so there hasn't been any twisting going on. Understand that our annual rainfall is ~12" and RH is normally pretty low, so that rotting isn't a problem. As you say though, other issues might be insurmountable but time will tell.
And actually "weathering" is kind of a desired look in southwestern ("Santa Fe") style houses. My major concern is whether (no pun intended) glue, of whatever type is most appropriate, is going to ultimately fail in this application.
I guess I'm committed, so not much more to be lost at this point.
Regards,
Wes
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My full time day job is in historic building restoration. I can tell you with complete authority there is nothing, nothing, nothing wrong with the unglued draw bored joints. I have had a lot of joinery 300 plus years old on my bench made like that, in need of repair but still sound. There is no need to glue them.
Your climate sounds pretty extreme and outside of my experience. Does poplar move a lot? I would tend to assemble the wood dry rather than wet.
A couple of observations: I don't know what you mean by "drilled on the diagonal" but am worried by the three dowels. The old joints I see have either one or two pegs only and all close to the shoulder of the joint. This afaict lets the wood move with minimal stressing across the grain and with minimum opening of the joint at the shoulder.
Tim W
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On Mon, 13 Aug 2007 20:45:12 GMT, "Tim W"
|
| | |> ... gates...... mortise-tenon. ... |> ....drawboring and pegging the joints... |> ... with three 3/4" oak dowels with... |> ... painted... exterior latex enamel ... |> ...100-degree weather. |>... wood moving with humidity changes... |> splitting ... stressed ..not worried about failure| |> So to get to my questions:|> |> 1. I'm thinking that this fall when dew point is below zero, I'll |> knock this apart and do a glue-up after all. It seems to me that |> plastic resin glue will be the way to go. Am I off base?|> |> 2. I have the other two gates ready for assembly. Should I do it now |> with them "wet" or wait until it's dry again?| |My full time day job is in historic building restoration. I can tell you |with complete authority there is nothing, nothing, nothing wrong with the |unglued draw bored joints. I have had a lot of joinery 300 plus years old on |my bench made like that, in need of repair but still sound. There is no need |to glue them.
Okay. | |Your climate sounds pretty extreme and outside of my experience. Does poplar |move a lot?
The tenons on the rails were flush with the outside of the stiles when first assembled at very low RH. <10% Following some rain and a general increase in RH to maybe 60-70 %, the ends of the tenons are recessed about 1/8". Likewise the top rail that was flush with the end of the stile when dry is about 1/16" proud of it now, so it looks like about 1/8" expansion over 5".
| I would tend to assemble the wood dry rather than wet.
Will do.
| |A couple of observations: |I don't know what you mean by "drilled on the diagonal" but am worried by |the three dowels. The old joints I see have either one or two pegs only and |all close to the shoulder of the joint. This afaict lets the wood move with |minimal stressing across the grain and with minimum opening of the joint at |the shoulder.
Interesting. By on the diagonal, I mean the pegs fall on a line drawn at 45 deg across the stile. My thinking (probably faulty) was that I would increase the shear strength of the pegs and resistance to racking by having multiples, while not having them line up with the grain in either the stiles or rails.
I can see now after what you've told me that perhaps the ideal would be one peg close to the shoulder. This would maximize the freedom for expansion in both members while maintaining a tight joint.
Nothing to say that I can knock these apart, plug the holes and start over. Can't do that with glue ;-)
What would be a good diameter for a single peg?
Thanks a lot.
Wes
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wrote:

oh I see. That is certainly done as you doubtless know. I am sure there is nothing wrong with that.

Probably.
Oak pegs in 2" poplar? I would say 5/8 dia is plenty, less maybe better. Poplar is quite soft isn't it? Ideally you want the peg to bend through the holes you have drilled just slightly staggered, so even 3/8 or 1/4 might do it, it's a question of judgement rather than rule book, and I wouldn't say there was anything wrong with 3/4" pegs if you want big pegs.
Tim w
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