A Simple Garden Gate - an exercise in hand tool joinery

  • Advertise with us
Project by Benvolio posted 06-26-2013 11:39 PM 5329 views 8 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well inspite of my keen interest in woodworking – my current flat isn’t big enough for a workshop, so I scratched my woodworking itch with a tuba fore type outdoorsy project.

I’m a very inexperienced woodworker and I appreciate this isn’t any where the normal standard you chaps are used to seeing posted, but I’m sheepishly proud of this hand tool only project, so thought I’d share.

This was to replace my old gate that came with the newly built house. That was constructed from a row of feather edge boards that were nailed in place by a frame. None of the framing members were joined to one another – in fact, the closest they got to each other at the `butt joints` was 1/8” gap !! Over time the gate started to sag and generally fall apart. And if you’d believe it – it would swell so much in winter it would jam hard against the post, yet shrink so much in summer that the latch would’t reach the hook!

... and I won’t go into the builders leaving the hinge side post ~3-4 degrees out of plumb, and the 6’ long tapering rebate I had to chisel into the post, seeing as it was concreted into the adjacent car park!!

Some deliberate design improvements I made on my gate include:

  • A single member for each style braced by internal rails (as opposed to full width rails with styles coming out from above and beneath). I think this allows the weight of the door to be fully transfered to the hinge side style more solidly, without asking any joinery having to take the weight also. I think also helps against unwanted movement to stop the hardware from working effectively as there’s only one piece of timber at each side, instead of five.
  • through tenons on the centre brace. And a very long tenon (and shoulder) to act against the torsion effect of sag.
  • angled tenons on the braces that cleanly transfer the weight to the framing members.
  • both braces transfer the weight from latch side to hinge side (as opposed to the original gate, which was, apparently a shop bought reversible one with only half the desired support!!)
  • bridle joints at each corner for maximum glue surface. I thought about pegging these, but after I’d constructed the gate, I swung my whole weight on the corner, and oh my goodness – I’ve never known anything so solid!!

So there it is. I’m ashamed to say it’s not the fine woodworking you gents are used to, but there’s a satisfaction in imagining a project and seeing it through to completion, and I’ll look forward to using this gate until I can buy a house with a workshop!!

-- Ben, England.

6 comments so far

View yrob's profile


340 posts in 4619 days

#1 posted 06-26-2013 11:56 PM

That is a nice gate with good traditional joinery. I bet it will stay
square and plumb much longer that something put together in a few minutes with a bunch of construction lumber and nail guns. Besides you get to have fun crafting interesting joinery. well done.

-- Yves

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 3464 days

#2 posted 06-27-2013 02:50 AM

When you make a bit of outdoor utility gear like this, you’ve made the world a slightly better place.
Well thought out, well made. It will be enjoyed by many owners and slammed to no ill effect by many kids.

-- [email protected] : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View LelandStone's profile


90 posts in 3480 days

#3 posted 06-27-2013 02:53 AM

Nothing to be ashamed of there—from this side of the pond it looks a bit of all right! :)

-- Leland, OC California

View XrayJay's profile


272 posts in 2946 days

#4 posted 06-27-2013 11:41 AM

That is the way it should have been built. Great job.

-- Whatever you find to do with your hands, do it with all your might,... because there is no work in the grave...Ecclesiastes 9:10

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3394 days

#5 posted 06-27-2013 11:18 PM

Wow !!! You did your gate the right way – well done.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 3142 days

#6 posted 06-28-2013 09:24 PM

Like the rustic look of it and the choice of hardware. It looks great with the wall. Well done!

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics