wooden gates: how to make?



Personally I'd fit 2 gates if existing posts permit. Otherwise at that length a weight releasing roller at the opposite end to the hinges would reduce sag and weight drop.
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On Sun, 21 Jun 2009 17:26:46 +0100, Fred wrote:

======================================== 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 sand 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 post.
Cic.
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I have just made a gate 15 feet wide entirely out of 1.75" square wood. 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.
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Here's a pic:
http://i42.tinypic.com/2r478dg.jpg
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 post.
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Matty F wrote:

That looks really superb. Great job.
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Dave - The Medway Handyman
www.medwayhandyman.co.uk
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On Jun 22, 9:48 pm, "The Medway Handyman"

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 fine. I don't think it would keep horses in though.
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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.
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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.
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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.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/allsorts-60/3659175057 /
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.
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Dave.




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wrote:

The braces on my gate match the angle of the gables on my house. Your top rail is four times the cross-section of my top rail, which should stop the gate flexing.
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wrote:

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.
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On Thu, 25 Jun 2009 13:28:21 +0100 (BST), "Dave Liquorice"

Hello again,
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: http://www.cps.gov.on.ca/english/plans/E8000/8364/8364L.pdf
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 his replies.
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!
Thanks again.
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On Sun, 21 Jun 2009 15:33:34 -0700 (PDT), Matty F wrote:

That's smart! 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.
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Peter.
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Matty F wrote:

9.5/10. You're missing a ball on your right-hand post
Owain
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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 stuff.
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On Sun, 21 Jun 2009 15:33:34 -0700 (PDT), Matty F

That looks really impressive. Well done! How is it all held together? Nails?
Thanks.
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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 use any. 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.
http://i42.tinypic.com/2r478dg.jpg
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On Sun, 21 Jun 2009 17:26:46 +0100

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.
R.
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There's a reason for that...

Not.
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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