It might make sense in the circumstances to have the old gate sand blasted
and possibly strengthened, depending on condition. There are plenty of mobile
blasters around. At least he would know that the gate post will take the strain.
It will be quite difficult to make a wooden gate of the required length
without making it unduly heavy - perhaps too heavy for the existing gate
Using Ubuntu Linux
I have just made a gate 15 feet wide entirely out of 1.75" square
I wanted two swinging gates but there is no room for them to swing so
it slides with two wheels on a stainless steel rail instead.
It has three rails, four diagonals and 40 pickets and was quite easy
to make, although it took me a long time.
Small swinging gate on the left, sliding 15 foot gate on the right. It
slides behind the rest of the fence on the right. I made the gates to
match the existing fence.
I imagine the 15 foot gate would swing OK if hinged to a very strong
Thanks. I wasn't going to post any more about it but I see that
someone that I thought was a real expert has implied that a thin
wooden gate of that width is basically impossible.
I thought it would be impossible too, but having built it, it works
I don't think it would keep horses in though.
Obviously it's not impossible, but there comes a point when wider
gates of thinner scantlings become awkwardly flexible.
The fix for this on level crossing gates is to use a wire truss
structure as well. The "gate" is wooden and flexible. Along the bottom
edges (both side) are a series of iron "pylons" sticking out about 6"
from the wood. Diagonal wire bracing beween these (usually taken under
the wood, from side pylon to side pylon) makes the effective thickness
of the gate 12"-18" and thus a lot stiffer.
I would certainly recommend using two gates instead of one, if that's
possible. In my case there is nowhere to swing them to.
And I would recommend steel for a 15 foot gate. I just made my gate
for almost nothing out of timber I had left over from making the
balustrades and fences for my house. I bought a real cheap packet load
of about 1500 feet of it.
On Thu, 25 Jun 2009 02:30:42 -0700 (PDT), Matty F wrote:
I still feel that a properly made 15' timber gate is not a problem.
13' timber field gate. Hinge post 5 x 3, slam post 3 x 3, top rail 4
x 3, other rails and braces 3 1/2 x 1. All rails have 3 x 1 mortises
right through the posts. The braces are overlap jointed into the top
rail and bolted right through the top thin rail and at the apex on
the bottom rail.
This gate is several years old and hasn't dropped at all, mind the
latch does take some of the weight when it is closed as should happen
with all gates.
For 15' I'd keep the same basic design but might taper the top rail
from 5 x 3 to 4 x 3 and have 3 instead of 2 sets of braces, mainly
'cause I think that would look better.
Dropping isn't the problem, as you have the height of the gate to work
with for triangulating it with bracing (like I said before,
structurally a gate is a triangle, not a rectangle). The problem
you'll encounter first and most awkwardly is horizontal flexing when
opening or closing, even some helical twisting, as there isn't enough
thickness in the gate to brace it easily.
On Thu, 25 Jun 2009 13:28:21 +0100 (BST), "Dave Liquorice"
That's a nice looking gate Dave, well done.
I am confused because each person I ask suggests a different timber
size. The Canadian pdf given earlier in the thread suggests 6"x2",
though to be fair, it is for keeping livestock in (or out). I phoned
the timer merchant to ask for a price for some 6x2 redwood and he
called me back and said he had made a 13' gate of 3x1: half the size.
Whilst there will be no cattle, some concerns on this thread have been
about the gate flexing. Would bigger timber mean more rigidity?
A carpenter told my neighbour not to use cedar; I don't know why, I
don't think cedar was ever mentioned and he said softwood would not
last. OTOH Dave's softwood gate has lasted, so I think that provided
it was treated, it should be ok.
The nice thing about Dave's gate is that the rails are morticed. The
Canadian plans show the rails and stiles simply on top of each other
(full lap?) and simply bolted through. The fixing is not clear on the
illustration but it looks as thought hey have used five bolts or nails
per rail end.
Morticing the joints must make the gate look flush and prettier? I
wonder if it has any mechanical impact?
I am most confused about the diagonal bracing.
The Canadian plans:
show the brace running from the top of the hinge side to the bottom of
the corner of the unhinged side. This echoes what Andy said in one of
But... I've just received a copy of an article from the New Zealand
"shed magazine", found via google it's a magazine with projects for
New Zealanders to make in their sheds. They have made a farm gate from
4x2 but they state that the brace must run from the bottom of the
hinged side to the top of the unhinged side: the exact opposite of the
Canadian's and Andy's plans!
To quote the article: "the diagonal struts have to go down to meet the
hinge at the bottom corner, not the other way round, to provide
support for the compression. Otherwise the timber in the gate would be
expanding and pulling apart, not being forced together".
Have they got this wrong? OTOH Dave's diagonals are V shaped and his
gate has held together, so perhaps is it not that important?
Rather than mortice the joints the NZ'ers have put sandwiched the
rails between two stiles on each side and put one bolt through each
rail. I think that might be a nice compromise as it makes the gate
prettier without the hassle of having to mortice (as neither of us
have bench drills and mortice attachments). Of course, I would have to
use thinner timber as three layers of 6x2 would make a very wide gate!
On Sun, 21 Jun 2009 15:33:34 -0700 (PDT), Matty F wrote:
I made a 3' picket gate and it took quite a while. It had to be strong as
there were 2 springer spaniels to restrain; eventually there were up to 5
dogs jumping up it. Fortunately I went to an agricultural outlet for the
hinges as the bacofoil things in the sheds would have given way.
The head of a pin will hold more angels if
The two balls are to indicate where the pedestrian gate is. Even with
that, some people can't work out how to get in. But no loss, they only
want to try to sell me something.
You may not have noticed that the left hand ball is smaller than the
right one. That's because I found the right one on an abandoned fence,
and made another on a lathe. Just about killed myself because it was
H5 treated timber, i.e. for marine use. Wear a mask when cutting that
Yes just nails except that the main rails and the ends are half-
jointed together with 6 screws. Glue would be a good idea but I didn't
It sagged somewhat until I put the diagonal braces on. Now it will
hold my weight.
I would now recommend using 3x2" timber (on the flat) at top and
bottom. The timber is H3 treated pinus radiata which I happened to
have lying around.
It is probably possible to make a 15 foot wooden gate by traditional
methods (rail with diagonal). I would want to use oak for this, and
that would mean massive posts, at least 12x12. If it's softwood, take it
to the sawmill to have it treated after cutting. There is a local
sawmill here (N Cumbria) that makes treated-spruce gates to order, look
for one in your area.
On the other hand, if it's going to be boarded, then it may also be
possible to design a stressed-skin panel using 5mm Marine-ply over
a treated spruce frame using boat-building methods, this would be very
light. A thin (say, 6mm) T&G covering is also a possibility, but it
would need to be glued not just to the frame, but also in the T&G, and
I think that might split in the weather.
I don't know if there are planning/regs constraints.
Go for two 7 1/2' gates instead - much easier all round.
Buy galv steel. Lighter, cheaper, stock item.
Otherwise build a 15' gate, but be warned that you need to be a fairly
experienced carpenter to do this well (ie to get a light gate that's
still rigid). Design isn't easy and the construction needs the ability
to cut some big joints that still fit closely enough to be rigid.
Although much carpentry is about pin jointed structures (stiff sticks
between floppy joints will still form a rigid structure if you
triangulate) a gate (usally) needs to be flat and so this becomes hard
to achieve if it's not to flex as you open and close it.
Material I'd choose would be Douglas fir. This is stiffer than most,
lighter than most (esp. oak) and you'll have a job to find my usual
outdoor timber choice of larch in good untwisted sections at this
length. I'd get it from http://www.bendreybrothers.co.uk (Bristol
area), and their website might give you pricing ideas.
Remember that gates are basically triangular, not rectangular,
especially when it's big or heavy and you're having to be careful with
the structural design. Use the traditional approach of extending the
hinge-end upwards, often with a "hockey stick" curve inwards and
hanging the main diagonal from that. This diagonal is the main
strength of the gate, _not_ the horizontal rails. The more angle you
get into it, the more it's working in tension and less in bending
(that's why the horizontals can't carry the load). I'd also tend to
duplicate it, maybe a 2"x6" on each side of the central rails - that
way you get the gate to be thicker (stiffer in bending) whilst not
needing to be as heavy as if you beef up the rails. Making the end
posts of heavier section (depending on what you can get) also makes
the rest of the fence look visually lighter in comparison. One trick
is to use an oak knee for the upright, the knee (a curve that grew
that way) being the cheapest way to get the shape. Weight this close
to the hinge is no problem for either moment or inertia, but it does
help to make for stronger joints.
I wouldn't make it solid, because of wind load. If you have to for
visual privacy, put staggered palings on each side.
The rest is just web searching, or a few of those lovely 100-year old
books that are reprinted so cheaply these days (Try "The Mid Western
Farmer's Compleat Almanac of Gate Building and Hog Husbandry" or
something like that, probably published by Dover or Ten-speed Press
and sold through Camden steam bookshop).
Go easy on the joints. Big single dovetails and their like are your
best bet. Complicated enough to still work by wedge action for decades
after the nails fell out, simple enough to cut well and to use large
robust components. Through bolts rather than screws (bigger than 2"
anyway) and a farmer's shop sells a wide range of galv ironwork,
hinges and latches.
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