How to Build Gates for Wood Fences


A swinging gate is a must-have for any fenced-in area. One gate is always necessary and sometimes two or three are needed to do the job. Wooden gates are usually constructed with a water-resistant wood, such as cedar or cypress, and then attached to a solid post with two or more strap hinges. Design of the door is fairly standard with vertical planks on the front braced with a Z-pattern on the back side. A well-made wooden gate is a nice way to finish off your backyard building project.

Things You'll Need

  • some lumber in one inch dimension
  • saw horses
  • safety glasses
  • a circular saw
  • galvanized wood screws 1 1/2 inches or less
  • a set of t-hinges
  • sealer or paint

How To Build Gates For wooden Fences

Make sure the post that supports the gate is solid and strong. If the swinging gate is attached to the side of the house, support is rarely a problem, but if you are placing a post in the ground, from which to swing your gate, then you need to be sure that the post is firmly entrenched in the ground. This means you will need to dig a hole, fill the whole with concrete and then set the post in the concrete.

Measure the opening for the gate. This includes height and width. Don’t forget to allow for gaps on each side of the door, so it can open and close. ¼ to ½ inch should be fine.

Select and lay out your lumber on a pair of sawhorses. You can build the gate with the vertical pieces tight together or you can leave a small gap (¼ inch is fine) between each board. Most builders will usually leave a gap to allow for proper drainage of rainwater. To get the exact width you will probably have to rip one board and place it in the center or rip two boards and place them at each end. The choice is yours.

Also you may want to lop off the corner at the top of each board. This means two extra cuts per board, but the improvement in appearance is well worth the extra effort.

Attach two horizontal boards to the back of the door with galvanized wood screws. The horizontal boards should run the entire width of the door and they should be situated several inches from the top and bottom of the door. Between the two horizontal strips (sometimes called ledges) is your diagonal piece or brace. First, lay it into place and mark the cuts. After you have cut off each end then it can be screwed into place.

Add the hinges and a latch and now your door is ready to hang. Two cast iron t-hinges should work just fine, unless the gate is really large and then you will need three.

Tips & Warnings

  • Cheaper wood can be used such as pine or fir, but it has to be primed and finished with a prime coat of paint.
  • Make sure that your door is square and flat. A warped door will not work well. It is best to examine each piece of wood to make sure that it is not warped.

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