Add a Woven Gate to your Yard
Photos by Chris Palmer; Illustration by Len Churchill
I’m not a fan of very plain-style gates. I prefer something more creative, something that’s never been seen before, or, at the very least, a unique twist on an old standard. After living with a simple and boring open-concept gate for the past few years, I thought it would be a nice change to give the entrance to my backyard some style, and to show a little bit of my creative side. This woven gate was influenced by a memory of an old school fence I saw as a child. I recall that it wasn’t very well executed, but it was unique nevertheless. I haven’t seen anything like it to this day.
|INFO:||DIFFICULTY – 2/5, LENGTH/TIME – 3/5, COST – 2/5|
When building my woven gate, I found the friction and tension so interesting. I didn’t have to use one screw to hold the gate boards in place, except for on the initial frame and outer face frames.
In my yard I have a 67" high × 42" wide gate. I used MicroPro Sienna material for all the wood parts. Based on these dimensions, I used the following material:
8 1 x 6 x 8' fence boards
4 1 x 6 x 6' fence boards
2 2 x 4 x 10' lumber
1 2 x 4 x 12' lumber
1 box of 100 qty. 2.5" brown deck screws
1 box of 100 qty. 3" brown deck screws
2 6" T-hinges
1 gate latch kit
1 container of MicroPro Sienna Cut n’ Seal
4 6" flat L-bracket or corner braces
1 can of Krylon “Brown Boots” Spray Paint + Primer in One
1 can of spray paint for the hinges
Start with the frame
To get started, I cut my 2 × 4 frame using the 10' pieces to make up one long frame piece, and the remainder to create the horizontal cross-member. The key to having the exact same measurements on all pieces is to cut both boards at the same time.
Keep the factory uncut end facing up when you assemble the frame. Even though you apply a wood sealer to the cut ends, I find that it’s good practice to have the most exposed ends being the ends you never cut.
Next tip, for those who don’t know how to make sure something is square without using a square, is to take your tape measure and measure the diagonal outside measurement. If you have the same number from corner to corner in both diagonal directions, you have a square frame. If you are off by more than 1/8" you will need to make some adjustments to your frame’s positioning.
With the outer frame laid flat, I used 3" deck screws to hold the frame together.
The Same Length – So that mating parts are the same length, line them up side by side and cut them at the same time.
Check for Square – In order to quickly check if the frame is square or not, measure both opposite corner-to-corner distances. If the two measurements are within about 1/8" there’s no need to make any adjustments.
Seal the Wood – Whenever you make a cut in treated wood be sure to seal it with a preservative. This will greatly extend the life of your gate.
Add inner rails
Next, I cut the 2 × 4 × 12' to the same length as the inside vertical dimensions of the frame, then ripped them in half to make the inner rails that allow the wood to be woven through. Make sure you use a wood preservative on the whole ripped edge.
Even though the wood is not fully exposed, it’s good practice. Centre the 2 × 4 strips on the inner vertical frame portion and clamp them in place to avoid the piece from moving off-center. Pre-drill five holes equally spaced, which will prevent any splitting. Next use the 2-1/2" deck screws to secure it in place. After the sides are complete add one more piece in the middle of the frame. Use the 3" deck screw to secure this in place.
Add Inner Rails – Once the 2 × 4 material has been ripped in half and cut to length, clamp, predrill and screw the pieces centered on the inner face of the vertical frame members.
Center Divider – Rip another 2 × 4 in half then attach it to the frame, centered on the upper and lower rails.
Weaving the strips
When choosing the boards for weaving, try to get the freshest boards in the pile. Look for the wettest boards as these make for easier bending. You’ll also want to avoid knots and splits as much as possible.
Before you begin to weave the boards, cut all the 8' lengths of fence board to the inside dimension of the gate’s width. Don’t worry, the ends will be slightly short, but not by much. I bet they will be a lot closer than you think and you will also be adding a face frame afterwards to conceal any exposed edges.
Seal all the ripped edges and cut ends. When you begin to weave the boards, make sure to put the ripped edge facing down to keep that factory-rounded edge facing up.
To weave a board you simply start on one side of the inside rail and wrap the board around the center rail. You will need to start with the board pointing diagonally up to get it onto the opposite side without catching it. Then simply push the board down, gently tapping it into place. I used a rubber mallet for the stiffer boards.
Cut extra boards. Since the fence boards are being woven, the bending may cause a couple of the pieces to crack, especially if there are larger knots in the pieces. If any do crack, be sure to replace them, as they’ll compromise the look and integrity of your gate.
As you move up towards the top you’ll notice there will be a point where you can no longer weave the boards without being stuck on the frame. At this point, you will need to take a scrap piece of 2 × 4 and fasten it to the frame, securing the gate’s width in place. This acts as a temporary brace. Next, remove the top horizontal 2 × 4 and begin to weave the boards from the top opening. Once complete, you can reinstall the horizontal piece and remove the temporary brace.
Start Weaving – Start weaving the thin boards into the frame at the bottom of the gate. Keep the factory edge facing up, and the freshly ripped and sealed edge facing down.
Getting Tricky – With most of the boards weaved into place, you’ll find it hard to continue. Attach a temporary strip to the face of the frame, remove the top piece of the frame and add the remaining thin boards. When done, reattach the frame top and remove the temporary strip.
I added a small scrap of wood on the underside of the mitre joints to prevent them from becoming misaligned in the future. I pinned the scrap in place before adding the face frame on top of it.
For the face frame, simply take two pieces of your 6' lengths of fence board and mitre them to the height of the gate. Now do the same for the horizontal widths. I also ripped these board widths to 3-1/2" as the full board width was a little overwhelming to the eye for the size of gate I was making. Again, use Cut n’ Seal on all ripped edges and cut ends.
Dry fit your corners before securing them, to make sure the mitres line up perfectly. Once you have them set, clamp them in place and pre-drill all your holes to prevent any splitting. Use 1-1/2" deck screws to secure the face frame in place.
Weaving Complete – The project is now ready for the mitred face frame.
Face Frame – Mitre the ends of the face frame so they meet right at the corners of the main frame.
The last step is to paint four 6" flat L-Brackets with an outdoor spray paint that matches your material. Once dry, screw one bracket per corner on the back face of the gate. This will help keep your gate from sagging over time.
Congratulations, your gate is complete! Now you can add your T-hinges and mount the gate on your fence post. Next time you host a backyard party you will receive many compliments from guests for the creative flair you’ve added to your yard!
Add Brackets – Adding brackets to the back of the gate helps strengthen the gate for years to come. You don’t have to paint them, but it is a nice touch.
Chris is a designer carpenter, Global Morning Show handyman expert and father. He is a graduate of the Humber College Industrial Design program.