By following a few basic principles of construction, you can build your own wooden fence gate. Here are some generalized instructions that can be applied to just about any wooden fence.
Step 1 – Measure And Plan
Choose where you want your gate to be, and how wide you want it. If needed, remove that section of your wooden fence. Measure the distance of the open space. If new posts are needed, subtract their width from your measurements, as well as about an extra ¼ of an inch to account for swelling of the wood. The distance remaining is how wide your fence should be.
If there are already fence posts spaced the distance apart you want, you can skip to the section Constructing The Gate’s Frame.
Step 2 – The Posts
If new posts are needed, you’ll need to bury them at least a foot into the ground, maybe as much as two feet if the posts are big and the door will be heavy.
Dig your post holes as deep as needed, plus 4 or 5 inches extra. Fill the extra depth with sand or gravel to promote water drainage, otherwise your post could begin to rot underground. Place your posts in the ground, using an A frame (two boards on opposite sides leaning against your post) to stabilize them. Pour small amounts of concrete in at a time, continually checking the level. Once the concrete is in, double check the level and leave the A frame up as the concrete dries over night.
Step 3 – Constructing The Gate’s Frame
Measure the distance between the posts again, make certain that your measurements haven’t changed now that the posts are in. Remember to subtract an extra 1/8 to ¼ of an inch to account for wood swelling and shrinking.
Cut at least 2 horizontal rails to the length measured, using 2 by 4 sized wood for an average sized gate. Add a middle one if you like, though a man-sized gate probably doesn’t need it.
You need to have a diagonal brace from the corner of one rail to the opposite corner of the other, or your gate will sag. Lay another 2x4 diagonally across your rails, marking where you need to cut so that it meets the rails without laying on top of them. Cut your brace, and set it snugly between your rails.
Step 4 – The Planks
Lay your planks evenly across the rails and the brace. Leave some room between them (1/8 to 1/4 of an inch) to account for swelling; laying them against each other could damage the planks later when they swell. Nail them into the rails and brace.
You may want to leave the last planks on the left and right off for now, to see how any overlap might look when attached to the fence.
Step 5 – The Hardware
Start with hinges. Screw them into your rails first. Then, hold your gate up to your posts to see where the hinges will attach. This is best done by resting the gate on a slim board at the height you want the gate off the ground. Screw your hinges into the post. Remove the board from underneath and attach your latch in the same manner.