The Garden Gates

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With the new path in place, it was time to build the garden gate!

Before the fun(!) could begin, there were two design issues we had to overcome. Firstly, the opening is 46″. That is rather wide for a single gate, so we quickly settled on having two narrow gates. The second issue is that the fencing is at two levels; 6′ on one side and 7′ the other. Somehow the gates would have to fit aesthetically between the two levels. Grace drew out several ideas using a curve to bridge the gap, and we decided that a concave top would look best.

With the design agreed upon, I could begin the easy bit of actually building the gates! They are made from common redwood, the generic softwood that so much is made from today. It gets a bad press, but there’s really nothing wrong with it. It’s light, strong(ish) and best of all it’s cheap. I bought some 4×2 for the stiles, 6×2 for the rails, and some TGV for the match-boarding.


In order for the match-boarding to fit flush over the bottom and lock rails, those rails had to be reduced in thickness. (The resultant mountain of shavings ended up being used to heat our local Essex Wildlife Trust visitor centre).


The top rails had to be quite wide to allow enough material for the curve, so some 6×2 and 4×2 were edge-glued to make wide material. With all the accuracy and exactitude of a NASA scientist, I laid out the curve with a steel ruler bent around three panel pins. I roughed the curve out on my bandsaw (my one concession to power tool woodworking) then finished up with a spokeshave:


Next the stiles were mortised, and corresponding tenons were cut on the rails. The top rail had to be rebated to allow the match-boarding to sit flush on top:


The holes through the joints are for drawbore pegs; they will pull the joints tight while the glue dries. With the joints cut, the gate frame was dry-fitted together. This allowed the diagonal braces to be marked out. They fit into the frame using a stub-tenon, and they prevent the frame from drooping as they get old (snigger).


Note the pegs sticking out of the joints, they will be trimmed flush once the glue is dry.

With the frame ready, the match-boarding could be nailed on:


One down, one nearly there!


After painting, the gates could be hung:

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As a finishing touch I turned a brass faceplate to replace the naff one that came with the lock:



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