TerryMcK

Building a garden gate

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Not strictly fine furniture, a shop project or a musical instrument but essential all the same.
My next project is an oak garden gate and has been commissioned by my wife Elly to showcase TMc Woodworks to people who come to our front door.
I had looked around and didn't find any plans that suited so I designed the gate myself.
 
1.JPGThe view from the road
 
2.JPGThe view from the house
 
Of course the design of this may well change as I go through it so don't be surprised if it looks different at the end.
 
From research I found that the best way to make this is using 3" thick timbers, in my case oak, with the upright boards tongue and grooved. The top rail will be shaped roughly as drawn and then I will carve the name of the house into it. I think I will also engrave the house number to the gate too.
All the upper faces will be sloping with roundovers where necessary to aid water run off. The hardware is all galvanized or stainless steel so that the oak does not rot the steel. The joints will be wedged through tenons as this is definitely the best sort of construction for outside gates and doors. No furniture type blind mortise and tenon joints on this one.
 
I ordered some timber from a local dealer and ended up with American white oak. This wasn't my first choice as white oak is not quite as weather resistant as European oak. But as the construction of this utilizes epoxy glue in all the joints and probably Sikkens finish I thought what the heck. It is also slightly cheaper than European oak too. The original gate that this is replacing is made from treated softwood which has been painted. This is now rotted but must have been in place for at least 25 years.
 
IMG_0374.JPG

Bizarrely even though this wood has travelled 1000s of miles it was still cheaper than the European oak I normally use. 

 

I must say that the lengths of oak that arrived were massively heavy but I crosscut them to length, by hand with a hard point saw, and jointed two of the faces. I left them overnight to stabilize but did notice that there was a slight split in the face of one of the pieces. I will be able to fill with some epoxy but I knew that timber this thick would have splits and shakes in them.

 

After acclimatizing to the shop for a few days I set to work.

 

The Stiles

 

The timber (American white oak) was jointed and thicknessed to 70mm thick x 100mmm wide x 980 long (2.3/4" x 4" x  38.1/2").
I had to do some remedial repairs to one of the stiles as when I cut it to 100mm (4") strong I found a flaw. It was inside the wood and wasn't apparent from the outside.
Maybe the timber had been either dried too quickly or taken from too close to the core of the tree (the annular rings on that piece look around 14" diameter)? or both. So I thought I would just rip some more off with the table saw a little at a time (1/8" bites). 5/8" off the width and a pile of sawdust later I managed to get to "almost" good stock again. I glued one of the 2" wide x 3" thick pieces that I took off one of the other pieces back on with some epoxy. After it had setup overnight I cut the piece back to width again.
I also thicknessed and jointed the top rail and middle rail but still had them long.
 
Next I set to work marking out the mortises. Then using a chain drilling technique I drilled the through holes at the drill press.

 

IMG_0377.JPG

Chain drilling is drilling a series of holes close together and then removing waste between the holes and therefore creating a pocket.
 
IMG_0379.JPG

 

Using the Forstner bit to remove the remaining waste web between holes.
 
I started out doing it with a Forstner bit but soon changed to a spade bit as the Forstner doesn't clear as well. Spades are not quite as accurate but as long as you drill square and between the lines it is ok. I then reverted back to the Forstner to remove the waste between holes.
 
Then it was finished off by chiselling out the waste. I was careful to produce a neat rectangular entry mortise either side, to a depth of about 6mm (1/4"), so I had something for the bearing of a pattern following router to clean up to depth. I know I could have made a router template but I'm not mass producing these. It is a one off (I hope).
 
IMG_0381.JPG
 
My longest bit is about 60mm long x 19mm diameter (2.1/2" x 3/4")  so wouldn't go all the way through. I could have used solely chisels to clean up the mortise but it's a long way to keep a chisel square.
 
The results using this hybrid approach worked really well and I cut all 6 through mortises in both stiles.
 
The next thing was to cut a slot in either stile to receive the tongues from the sides of the T&G boards I have yet to make. I cut these 10mm wide x 15mm deep (3/8" x 5/8") using multiple 3mm (1/8") cuts and the "drop on" technique.
 
IMG_0386.JPG

 

This slot needs squaring off with a chisel.

 

The results are a mirrored pair of stiles.

 

IMG_0387.JPG

 

 

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Cool build.

 

How did you take sagging on the non-hinged end into consideration?  I recently had to install a corner to corner turnbuckle system on the inside of my fence gate to counter the problem.

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If it does sag I will use a spring loaded jockey wheel like this one 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/1st-Fix-South-Galvanized-Spring/dp/B00I9YAZNG/ref=pd_cp_diy_3 it has an upthrust of 55kg or 130 pounds. 

The whole gate assembly is bolted to a heavy brick pillar but I will keep this in mind just in case.

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The wheel sounds like a good option as brick and mortar are not sound structural components to attach to. Im only saying this because the gate sounds like it will be quite heavy. Normally on heavy attachments with a brick face or veneer, your best option is to through bolt it with metal support plates on the other side, going through the entire structure. Let us know how that pans out.

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Looks like a great start on sturdy gate. Are the lower face boards going to be screwed on? American white oak is in high demand these days for whiskey barrel production.

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The wheel sounds like a good option as brick and mortar are not sound structural components to attach to. Im only saying this because the gate sounds like it will be quite heavy. Normally on heavy attachments with a brick face or veneer, your best option is to through bolt it with metal support plates on the other side, going through the entire structure. Let us know how that pans out.

We normally use something like this  when attaching anything to brickwork. Essentially you drill a hole the size of the sleeve and insert it into the hole. Then pass the bolt through a clearance hole in the wooden part into the threaded portion inside the sleeve (the tapered nut). When you tighten the bolt it pulls the tapered nut into the sleeve which has a corresponding taper on the inside. The action of this gradually expands the sleeve into the hole and wedges it into position. I don't think these are sold at Lowes or Canadian Tire but it is a standard method over in the UK of fixing into masonry.

 

I have a buddy (an expat Englishman) in Barrie, Ontario who always asks me to bring a few over and these lightweight Rawlplugs when I visit Canada as he can't get them.

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According to my volume calculator and using Sketchup to work out the volume of each of the components the mass of the finished gate (wood only) it's around 32 kg or 71 pounds (ish). Seems a bit light to me but that was based upon a density of white oak being 0.75 grams per cubic centimetre (yes I know what's one of them?)  :D - I got the density from the internet so it must be right  :blink:

Anyway I think it will weigh no more than 100 pounds with hardware attached and the spring loaded jockey wheel will probably be utilized to take the strain.

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Sorry to circle back on this, but wouldn't the caster sink into the mud/ grass? I'd assume those wheels were more for say , a parking lot gate on asphalt.

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Ah yes, good ol expansion anchors! Im very familiar with these for attaching deck ledgers to solid concrete. Im probably over thinking your situation because i am basing my experience on much more massive structures that require mucho holding power. And as far as my deck building goes, i build beyond local codes because thats how i roll. :)

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Sorry to circle back on this, but wouldn't the caster sink into the mud/ grass? I'd assume those wheels were more for say , a parking lot gate on asphalt.

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Oops..just re-read your original post and realized it's not on grass.....

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Looking good Terry. I like the design! I would have never though of using the router w/ bearing guide on the mortises. I guess I would have just used the bits and chisels and they wouldn't have looked nearly as good as yours. There's not a day goes by that I don't learn something on this site :D  Hopefully your brick columns are plumb! 

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Oops..just re-read your original post and realized it's not on grass.....

That's right. It's actually an asphalt path.

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Here are the next stages:

More mortises
The top and mid rails required mortises to house the mullions. As the the top and mid rails had already been jointed it was a simple matter of defining a mid point on each and then marking out for each of the mortises.
I normally use a striking knife and undercut with a chisel on my joinery to produce crisp, clean results. The knife line also makes it easy to rest a chisel bevel into.
The pattern bit we have that is 1/2" diameter was measured. The cutter length is 25mm (1") and the bearing thickness is 6mm (1/4"). This dictated the depth that I needed to go to use my method of cutting a shallow clean mortise and cleaning to depth with a router.
IMG_0445.JPG
Mullion mortises complete
 
The mortise dimensions are 60mm x 18mm (2.3/8" x a hair under 3/4"). Spade drills and Forstner bit were again used to bore to depth to create some clearance for the router. Then the top of each mortise was carefully chiselled to produce the "routing template". (Again a template could have been made to do this but this is not fine furniture and they are not being mass produced.)
Then simply place the router into the rough mortise and routed away the waste. You still have to clean up the corners with a corner chisel or bench chisel and this was the same as last time.
 
 
Cutting the tenons on the cross rails.
The tenons were started to be ripped on the bandsaw and everything was going well until the kerf closed up on the blade. Some reaction wood had caused it to close up. I tried inching it off the blade whilst stopped but ended up pulling the blade off the wheels. The blade would still not come out so I ended up destroying the blade. It was an old one so it was no big deal. On wood this thick it may have been better to crosscut a few relief cuts first of all before ripping the tenon cuts.
 
As I didn't have a spare blade of the right size I ordered a few more. The rest of the evening was spent sawing the tenons by hand with a Japanese rip saw. Even then the wood was closing up on the blade. Wedging open the kerf with a screwdriver enabled the completion of the cuts.
 
IMG_0460.JPG

Cutting the tenons by hand

 

We have a small crosscut sled that is not really capable of cutting the tenon shoulders accurately on pieces of this length. If we were batching gates out I would make a larger one. However the cross cut sled was still used with some external support to cut within a 1/16" of the shoulder knife lines. Then chiselling to the lines and finishing off with a shoulder plane.

 

IMG_0451.JPGChiselling the shoulders

 

IMG_0453.JPGDoing it this way it is possible to get very clean shoulder cuts.

 

Tenon Router Sled
When cutting large tenons such as those found on entrance door parts or gates like this it is always preferable to take the tool to the work rather than the other way around.
To facilitate this we have a shop made tenon machining router sled made from 1/2" plywood and some scrap walnut. The walnut is jointed to give flat faces to ensure that when the plywood is glued and screwed to it then it remains flat. The walnut only acts as a stiffener for the plywood.
There is a large clearance hole in the plywood for the router which is bolted to the sled with countersunk screws.
There is also a slotted adjustable foot which bolts to the edge guide to create an outrigger foot to support the weight of the 1/2" 2000W router.
 
In use the underside of the plywood is referencing the face of the crossrail workpiece. The cutter is adjusted to the desired length to machine the tenon. Only use a smallish diameter cutter for this of around 1/2" or so and take small cuts. As we had already taken a fair amount of the waste away by sawing it only needed the minimum amount of clean up with the router to produce good tenon faces.
 
IMG_0462.JPGThe business end of the sled which is shown on top of the workpiece
 
IMG_0466.JPGView showing the adjustable outrigger foot
 
These Sketchup drawings may show you more detail
 
RouterSled1.JPG
 
Side View showing the component and bench top below.
 
RouterSled2.JPG
Top View. The knob is for control as this is a manually operated sled and therefore needs much control
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Terry, With the stress in the wood causing the kerf to close, do you fear that this same stress will cause a problem with the tenon twisting?

That router sled is really cool!

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Terry, With the stress in the wood causing the kerf to close, do you fear that this same stress will cause a problem with the tenon twisting?

That router sled is really cool!

It may do Ken but as there are 3 tenons per side and they will all be glued with epoxy it probably won't be a major issue. I have done a dry fit and the tenons are slip fit at the moment. Hopefully they will stay true until glue up time. Also I'm using wedged tenons where there is a 10 degree or so triangular section cut from each side of the tenon. Then during the glue up you hammer in wedges of the same section to fill the voids and it makes for a really strong joint.

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I'm looking forward to see how the wedge tenons are done. I've always thought these looked neat when using contrasting woods but never knew how to go about making them.

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Template making and bandsawing
 
We had decided that the top rail would be curved long ago during the projects inception. Originally we had planned for the top side and undersides to be curved but this may have proved to difficult to pull off especially since a lot of the oak had voids in it. We didn't want to chance cutting into voids so the underside of the rail remains straight.
However the top of the rail is going to be curved. A template was duly made. This was done by drawing a grid over the top of the rail at 25mm spacing (approx 1"). The half image was exported out of Sketchup as a PDF file to full size.
GateTemplate.JPGGate top curve template
 
This produced around 3 pages that were pasted to a scrap of 1/4" plywood using some 3M spraymount. The grid was used simply to join the paper sheets together at the correct spacing
 
The paper template was then cutout at the bandsaw. Then, using a spokeshave, was smoothed to the line.
The template was positioned on the centre line of the rail and the profile marked out. The template was then flipped so producing a mirror image on the other side of the rail.
 
The next exercise was cutting the 3" thick chunks of scrap from the top rail. As we had already experienced reaction wood when cutting the tenons a number of relief cuts on 1" spacing were made.
 
IMG_0468-001.JPG

Cutting relief kerfs

 

The pencil lines were then followed about 1/16" away and the profile was cut. This produced several blocks of oak that were just scrap. Quite honestly I could have cut the profile in one go but I didn't want to get into the reaction wood situation that I had when cutting the tenons.
If we had a long enough template following router bit the plywood template could have been used as a router template. However the longest one we have is around 2.1/2" so the oscillating spindle sander (OSS) was used.
 
Profile Sanding
 
Next the profile was sanded to the line with our oscillating spindle sander (also known as a bobbin sander in the UK). The good news was the timber did not have any voids or cracks in it so we got a good stick of wood for the top rail.

IMG_0469.JPGSanding to the line with an OSS

 

IMG_0470.JPGProfile created on the top face

 

The upper surface of the rail needed a slight angle machining on either side to create water run-off for the inevitable rain we get in the UK. The OSS table was set at 2 degrees and used to create the tapered faces.

 

IMG_0471.JPGMarking out the taper

 

IMG_0474.JPGNot much of a taper but this profile will help with water runoff

 

Then a 1/2" radius was cut on the upper and underside of the top rail to produce a nice roundover on each of the edges.

 

IMG_0475.JPGThe round-over cut on the router table

 

The final process on this piece is to use a smoother plane to clean it up.

 

IMG_0476.JPGUsing a #4 to clean up

 

IMG_0477.JPGThe finished top-rail.

Note the tenons are long at the moment and will be cut down after the glue up.
 
There is still some carving of house number and street name to do on this component before glue up.
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