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
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
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?