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Jeff Greef Woodworking

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Building A Gate

Even when the angles aren't all "right."
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Resources For Building A Gate

Drill Bits
Hand Drills
Measuring Tools
Miter Gauges
Table Saws

In the best of all possible worlds, every construction project would be done within perfectly square spaces where things line up well. But the fact is that all too often they just don't- and this is particularly true when building fences, gates, and the like. I put this gate in at my sister Susan Greef's house in Oakland, Ca., where the driveway slants toward the house with a total drop of 8 inches over 11 feet. She wanted the gate to be a uniform height above the drive, which meant that it could not be horizontal along the top. On these pages I'll describe how we dealt with the odd angles involved- as well as how to build a solid gate, be it at odd angles or not.

Nixy was somewhat suspicious of this odd contraption that made it a little more difficult to get in the back yard.

No matter how far away from the horizontal you choose to make your gate top, you still must make the posts vertical. If they are not, the gate will always swing toward the slant of the posts. Also, it's best to secure the post(s) in the ground with concrete to support the load. The gate that preceded this one was hung on a post that sat on a 12" high concrete pier. Though the pier was solidly embedded in the ground, there was no way to firmly connect the post to the pier, and so it pivoted back and forth. Even though the post was tied into the exterior wall of the house less than two feet away, it still wobbled badly.

Photo 1- Digging a proverbial hole in the ground.

Photos 2+3- At first I thought perhaps these cats worked for the local building department, but they seemed to have no complaints about my work.

Dig a hole with a post hole digger to a depth of 18" (photo 1). If you can get your cats to dig the hole for you, so much the better (photos 2+3). Any post in the ground, be it in concrete or dirt, will be subject to rot from moisture, so it's a good idea to use pressure treated lumber which, so they say, is good for 20 years. Prop the post up and be sure it is vertical (photo 4). If you aren't able to secure it to a nearby house as shown here, drive stakes into the ground nearby and secure it to those. Once the concrete sets it's "written in stone," so be sure the post is properly located.

4 Foot Expandable Level

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Photo 4- Ensure that the post is vertical before pouring concrete.

For measuring tools, click here.

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