How to Build a Garden Gate
Get two stout posts and some stock cedar, and you've got the makings of a quaint entrance to any path
The white picket fence may be what we all dream of, but who says you need the whole thing? A crisp white garden gate provides the same feel. Install it at the head of a path, leading to a garden or your front door, and flank the posts with tall plantings. Though there are more styles than we care to count, choosing one could be as easy as researching historic designs. In fact, it may be necessary; some localities enforce historical accuracy, which is how we landed on this design in Bellport, New York. Luckily, This Old House senior technical editor Mark Powers's approach applies to a variety of styles. Follow along to see how to build a gate that won't get you pilloried by the locals.
Shown: Devonshire Twisted Ring Gate Latch, about $49, and 16-inch Old Fashioned Heavy Reversible strap hinges, about $110 a pair; Walpole Woodworkers
How to Build a Garden Gate Overview
PREP DAY: Install the posts (Steps 2 & 3).
SATURDAY: Cut the parts and build the gate (Steps 4-12).
SUNDAY: Attach the hardware and install the gate and post caps (Steps 13-17).
Size your gate to the width of your path, allowing room for the postholes on either side. Our gate is unusually wide, at four feet, but you can easily adapt the cut list to a narrower size by adjusting the width of the horizontal pieces.
Garden Gate Cut List
Stiles: 2 @ 35 inches
Top rail: 1 @ 47½ inches
Bottom rail: 1 @ 42½ inches
Crosspiece: 1; trace to fit
Filler block: Rip 1x3 to fit between pales; ours was 2 inches
Rip 2 ½-inch-wide stiles from 5/4 decking.
1x5 cedar brace: 1 @ rip to 4 inches wide, length cut to fit
Using a circular saw, rip edges at opposing 30-degree angles.
1x3 cedar pale: 4 @ 38 inches
1x3 cedar pale: 4 @ 39 inches
1x3 cedar pale: 2 @ 40 inches
1x3 cedar pale: 1 @ 41 inches
Shape the tips of the pales, then cut them to length.
Apron board: Rip one to 4 inches wide by 47½ inches long.
Apron strip: Rip one to 1½ inches wide by 47½ inches long.
Using a circular saw set to a 5-degree bevel, rip a 5/4 deck board into two pieces to create both the apron board and strip.
6x6 treated post: Cut two to the desired height while maintaining a portion that's at least one-third the total height of the post that will be buried. For our design, we used 6-foot posts and left 4 feet above ground.