Gates are essential if you want outdoor access in and out of a fenced area. And instead of purchasing a gate, you can build one yourself to your exact specifications fairly quickly if you have intermediate woodworking skills. This project provides instructions to create a 42-inch-wide cedar wood gate that will add style and function to a fence. Plus, the tongue and groove cedar boards ensure privacy, as no one will be able to peek through slats in the gate, and the black hardware beautifully contrasts with the red cedar.
While this tutorial creates a 42-inch-wide gate, you can scale the gate width up or down as needed by adding or subtracting boards. As for the height, many local building codes cap fence and gate heights at 6 feet. Check with your local permitting agency about heights and whether you need to obtain a fence building permit.
Equipment / Tools
- Measuring tape
- Miter saw
- Straight edge ruler
- Carpenter's glue
- Cordless drill
- 12 Cedar tongue and groove boards (1/4 inch x 3 1/2 inches x 96 inches)
- 3 Cedar boards (1/4 inch x 6 inches x 96 inches)
- Package of 3/8-inch long galvanized nails
- 3 Black decorative strap hinges with matching screws (anywhere from 13 inches to 17 inches long)
- 2 Black long slide latches with matching screws
- 1 Black heavy duty gate flip latch with matching screws
Measure and Cut the Tongue and Groove Boards
Using your measuring tape, make a pencil mark at 72 inches on each of the tongue and groove boards. Then, cut the boards to 72 inches long with your miter saw.
Measure and Cut the Horizontal Braces
With the measuring tape, measure three 42-inch segments on two of the 6-inch-wide cedar boards (not the tongue and groove boards). Then, cut these segments, so you have three boards that are 42 inches long.
Lay Out the Boards
On a level, flat surface, such as a driveway or garage floor, lay out the three 6-inch-wide boards. Two of the boards should be parallel to each other and 5 feet apart. And the third board should be parallel to the other two and exactly in the middle of them.
Next, lay the tongue and groove boards on top of the three boards. Gently tap one board's tongue into the groove of its neighboring board until you have put together all of them. This process might disarrange the 6-inch-wide boards underneath. If that's the case, keep the tongue and groove boards in place while you readjust the lower boards to their original positions.
Attach the Tongue and Groove Boards
Nail the tongue and groove boards to the 6-inch-wide horizontal brace boards underneath with the 3/8-inch galvanized nails. Keep a close eye on those lower boards, so they don't move out of position as you work.
Measure and Cut the Diagonal Brace
Carefully flip over the gate. Lay the remaining 6-inch-wide cedar board diagonally across the horizontal braces. Temporarily nail the diagonal board in place to secure it, leaving the nail heads exposed for easier removal.
Lay your straight edge ruler over this diagonal brace, staying parallel with the lines of the horizontal braces. Make six pencil marks on the diagonal brace parallel to the top and bottom of each horizontal brace.
Remove the temporary nails. Then, cut the diagonal brace with your miter saw at those six marks. Three cut pieces will eventually be discarded (the two ends and the middle), leaving two cut pieces that you will use as the diagonal brace.
Attach the Diagonal Brace
Run a line of carpenter's glue on the back side of the two diagonal brace pieces. Then, press the pieces in place on the gate in between the horizontal braces. Weigh down the two glued pieces with cinder blocks, rocks, or anything sufficiently heavy. Let the glue dry for about two hours.
After the glue has dried, flip over the gate. Nail the diagonal brace pieces in place with the 3/8-inch nails.
Mount the Gate
Set the gate in place on your fence, and support it with scrap cedar pieces to provide about 1/2 inch of clearance at the bottom. Leave about 1/4 inch of distance on the hinge side of the gate. It's helpful to have an assistant hold the gate in place at this point.
Using the cordless drill and the screws included with the hinges, screw the hinges in place at the top, middle, and bottom of the gate and to the gate frame. Check to make sure the gate swings properly. If necessary, adjust the hinges to level, tighten, or loosen the gate.
Mount the Latches
Using the cordless drill and the screws included with the latches, screw the slide latches in place on the top and bottom of the gate. Screw their receiving sections on the gate frame. Then, mount the flip latch in a similar fashion at the center of the gate.