There are four types of wooden gates that can be built to conform with a specific design or a personal preference. The types of gates are garden, side yard, driveway and livestock gates. Most often, wooden gates can be built on site and, for the most part, the intended use of a gate will dictate the materials used. Softer redwood or cedar is preferred for decorative gates, and more durable douglas fir or spruce for driveway and livestock gates.
Building wood gates can be done with basic hand and power tools, and the attachments made with galvanized deck screws or box nails. An ideal work area would be a flat surface, and this could be a concrete slab, a sturdy work table or sawhorses.
Garden gates are most often built from redwood or cedar, since this type of wood can be left unfinished to weather, or sealed and painted. These gates are typically 36” in height, and may have pickets or lattice attached to the frame. The frame will be 2” x 4” redwood, assembled on edge as opposed to flat, with mitered corners.
To build the frame, begin by measuring the width of the opening and deduct 1″ for hinge and latch clearances. Miter cut the top and bottom pieces, with the long point of the cuts at the desired width. Miter cut two side pieces at a length that is approximately 6” shorter than the overall height of the garden fence. This will allow an overhang of pickets or lattice at the top and bottom of the gate frame. Assemble the frame using 3” galvanized deck screws, with pre-drilled pilot holes to prevent the corners from splitting.
Once the four-sided frame is assembled, cross check the measurements from corner to corner and adjust the frame to square. Next, measure on a diagonal from the bottom, inside corner of the frame, to the opposite inside corner at the top. This measurement is used for a 2” x diagonal brace that is needed to support the gate at the latch side. When looking at the gate in the opening, the bottom of the diagonal brace will be at the hinged side and it will extend up, to the top of the frame at the latch side. Miter cut the diagonal brace and install it in the frame using deck screws with pre-drilled pilot holes.
Side yard gates are built in the same manner as garden gates, with the exception being the overall height of the finished gate. The frame and diagonal brace are sized and assembled in the same way, deducting 1” in width to allow for the gate hardware. Fencing material is attached using galvanized box nails or deck screws, and the gate hardware should be attached using 2” lag bolts with T-strap hinges for maximum reliability. A gate latch may be any type that suits the function of the gate.
Driveway gates can be single or double gates that are assembled in the same way as side yard gates. However, since these are typically wider, the 2” x 4” frame is constructed flat, rather than on edge, in order to provide more strength at the center span of the gate. Where these gates are hinged, a rubber gate wheel can be attached at the swinging side of the gate for additional support. All attachments of material and hardware can be made in the same way as side yard gates.
Livestock gates are made from more durable douglas fir or spruce, and they consist of three horizontal rails that attach to a four sided, 2” x 6” frame. All attachments are made with lag bolts in pre-drilled pilot holes. Typically these gates are hinged to tall posts, and a stranded cable is used for support at the latch side of the gate. The cable is connected to a large eye-bolt atop the post, and to a smaller eye-bolt atop the swing edge of the gate. A coupler at mid-span of the cable allows for periodic adjustment of the tension. These gates are primed and painted to resist weather.