Preparing the Timber to Make a Gate

The actual size of the gate depends upon individual tastes, also the width of existing openings for which the gate is to be made. Using a try-square, marking knife and a rule, the stiles are first marked to length and cut square, allowing 6mm waste at either end.

The rails are then similarly marked but cut with only a finger-nail thickness of waste. This is then planed off, using a shooting board and a finely set bench plane. When doing this, the board must be ‘shot’ from both edges; this will obviate splitting the corners of the timber.

Centre stile and rail lengths The length of the rails is the overall width of the gate, less the combined stile widths. The centre stile length is the actual outer stile length, less the combined rail widths, plus 25mm. This stile should be cut and shot in the same way as the rails.

The centre stile is held in position by means of a half-lap at its top end and a notched half-lap at the lower end. To make the lower joint, take the bottom rail and on the face, side and edge, mark the centre of its length with a pencil.

Next, measure, on either side of the centre line, half the width of centre stile and pencil round this. Now set a marking gauge to half the thickness of the rail and mark across the last two lines drawn on the face edge.

The gauge may now be set to a depth of 25mm and a line marked across the two outer lines in the centre of the face side.

Clamp the board, face side up and face edge forward, to the bench and, with a tenon saw, make a series of cuts through the corner of the timber, just short of both gauged lines. The waste may now be removed with a bevel-edged chisel.

Holding the chisel upright and at right-angels to the grain, make a series of cuts across the grain and again remove the waste. This operation is repeated until the cavity is neatly cleaned out.

Halved joints may now be cut at either end of the centre stile. The bottom joint is 25mm long and the top joint, cut to half lap the TGVJ support, attached to the top rail, should be slightly smaller to allow for machining of the timber.

Marking out the top rail

It is important to mark out the top rail before assembly in order to know where the upper edge will be. The easiest way to do this is to prepare a drawing of the gate to a scale of 1:5 or larger and scribe the curve.

Draw the centre line x-Y and, on this, mark point A in the rail centre. Join up the points A and B and, using these points as centres, scribe arcs through the opposite points. The arcs cross at points Cl and C2.

Project a line through these points until it crosses the line x-Y at D. This point will be the centre of the radius of an are passing through B-A-B.

Once this drawing is complete, it can be squared up and the are may be enlarged to full size on a piece of card, which may then be cut out and used as a template for the curve on the finished rail.

Jointing the main frame The joints used to hold the stiles to the rails are simple through-dowels. Each joint will require three dowels 150mm long by 12mm thick for the top rail and 9mm thick for the bottom rail.

After the dowels have been cut to length and the ends chamfered, they should be clamped in a vice and shallow grooves cut down their length with a fine tenon saw. Five or six grooves per dowel will be sufficient. These grooves will let any air escape from the dowel holes, stopping any tendency to hydraulic action.

To position the dowels, line a rail and a stile up on the corner of a bench against two battens previously tacked to the bench at right-angles to each other. Once they are in position, cramp them firmly to the bench. Place a piece of scrap timber between the cramps and the work piece to protect it.

Using a brace or electric drill and appropriately sized bit, the dowel holes may be bored to a depth of 135mm-150mm. The important thing to remember is to keep the holes within the width and thickness of the rails; holding the bit dead horizontal will help to facilitate this.

Once the holes are drilled, take the frame members apart and, with a chisel held flat on each piece of timber, clean up any swarf round the edges of the holes.

When all the joints are drilled, the whole frame may be cramped together, after exterior-grade resin glue has been applied to all meeting surfaces. Once the frame is cramped up and is square, squeeze some glue into the holes and on to the dowels, then tap these into their respective holes. Clean off any surplus glue and leave to set.

While the glue is setting, the TGVJ supports may be cut to length and a half lap cut into the centre of the top support, to take the centre stile. The supports may now be drilled and countersunk at 200mm centres.

When the dowel joints have set, these should be glued and screwed to the inside of the frame, lining up with the bottom rail. The centre rail may now be pinned and glued into place.

All screws and pins used should preferably be either sheradized or brass.

Once the main frame is assembled and cleaned up, including the removal of protruding dowel ends, the top curve may be cut out with a bow saw or electric jig saw. The resulting curve may be cleaned up with a spokeshave.

Stand the frame on the ground with its top uppermost and supported in a vice or, if a jig saw is used, it may be supported on trestles or a portable bench (such as the Workmate).

All that remains to do is cut the TGVJ boards. These are best cut individually, either using a mitre box and tenon saw or a circular saw with a fine blade and the T-rest set to 45 .

The boards are fitted with their tongues uppermost; after they have been cleaned up on a 45° mitred shooting board they may be glued and secret-nailed to the frame.

The gate may now be cleaned up with glass-paper and given a good coat of exterior-grade preservative.

It is now ready for hanging and the simplest method for this is to use cross-T (or garnett) hinges which should be fixed to the top and bottom rail.

10. November 2011 by admin
Categories: Featured, Handyman Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Preparing the Timber to Make a Gate


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