Weekend Project

Justin Newcombe's tips on outdoor DIY projects

Cross the picket line

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Making a sturdy set of gates is straightforward when you follow these eight easy steps.

Justin added a bit of interest to his gates by sawing the tops off his pickets at facing angles. Photo / Greg Bowker
Justin added a bit of interest to his gates by sawing the tops off his pickets at facing angles. Photo / Greg Bowker

Eight or nine years ago I drove home to find my wife and my neighbour in front of our house, erecting a new set of gates. It took them a couple of hours and they made up the job as they went along. A quick fix, but they stood the test of time, including several car-backing attempts. As I finally went to pull them apart they practically fell to pieces in my arms.

The design of all gates is basically the same - a rectangle with a brace, covered with your material of choice. I wanted my gates to be sturdier, so I used heavier timber and posts, along with stronger hinges and screws. If in doubt, ask at your local Bunnings outlet.

Step 1

Insert your posts
Cut each post at twice the height of the gates, then dig each hole deep enough to get half the post into the ground. Pour in concrete and allow a couple of days for it to set properly.

Step 2

Measure twice, cut once
If you're doing two gates, put a level string line across the gap and set it at the top height of the gate. Work out how the gates will swing, where the latches and hinges will go, etc.

Step 3

Make your gate frame
Make sure you allow enough room for hinges when opening and closing the gate. Cut the vertical section of your gates. Next cut the horizontal lengths. Set the vertical lengths inside the horizontal ones and screw them together with one big coach screw in each corner. Make sure to countersink the screw into the timber and cover with builders' putty.

Step 4

Mark out and cut the brace
The brace runs diagonally from the bottom of the hinged side to the top of the latch side. Draw a centre line at each end of the bracing timber. Place the gate frame over this and match the centre line you have drawn with the inside corners of the frame, then trace the shape of the frame on to the timber. Cut and nail.

Step 5

Nail on the pickets
To work out the distance between each picket, divide the length of the gate by the number of pickets. Mark the spacings on the frame. Arrange the pickets along the frame to check you have everything even and square. Screw or nail them on.

Step 6

Paint your gate
Lightly sand any rough edges, fill any holes, then paint with an acrylic paint that doesn't require an undercoat. You might need two coats.

Step 7

Measure and attach the hinges
Check and mark on your posts where your gate will hang, then mark and screw your hinges on.

Step 8

Hang your gate
Gates are heavy, so it may pay to get someone to help. Use a level builder's string from post to post to line up the tops, then mark where the hinges should meet the posts. Using a level to make sure the gates hang true, insert one screw in the top hinge first, then one in the bottom hinge. Screw in the rest and repeat for the other side. Install a D latch for the top of both gates and a drop bolt into the bottom of one of them, and you're all done.

- NZ Herald

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