Building a gate; pretty, sturdy, inexpensive and a simple DIY project that can be done for about $100 and 2 hours of your time.

I know, all I write about are my doggos anymore.  I’m sorry?  But they take up so much of my life (and heart), that the projects to protect, repair, clean and take care of them are all I seem to do anymore.  

Mostly cleaning.

A LOT of cleaning.

However, in their valiant efforts to protect our home and family, the three of them have been running and jumping on the beautiful gate I built a few years ago.  I’ll admit, it was made for looks and not for 250lbs of dog containment, so it did not hold up well to the abuse.

What I needed was something solid, VERY sturdy, and still inexpensive to contain their enthusiasm.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links to products I used or recommend.  For full affiliate disclosure, please see bottom of the page.

Step one: Spacing

The first step in building a gate is determining the spacing.  Since I was replacing my old gate with a new one, I didn’t have to dig holes or set up posts.  Measure the spacing between your fence posts in several locations – it isn’t likely it will be perfectly straight.  Take the smallest number and remove one inch.

In my case the posts are spread 44″ apart at the narrowest, so I know my gate will need to be 43″ wide to leave at least ½” on either side for spacing.

Next choose your height; my previous gate was 80″ tall and I liked the privacy and cohesion with our 8′ tall fence, so that’s what I went with again.

Step two: Get your wood

I went with 2″x4″x8′ MicroPro Sienna pressure treated since it was a LOT less expensive, and a great deal sturdier than cedar.  

Step three: Cut list

Step four: Start assembling

Using pocket holes and 2 ½” pocket screws make a frame with your 43″ boards and 60″ boards.

Check for square and then attach the centre board at the midpoint.

Assemble the frame and cross section to create your gate base

To be sure everything is perfectly square, measure from one corner to the opposite and repeat for the other two; these numbers should be exactly the same.

Now you’ll want to cut your angle braces; these are needed to keep your gate square and to stop it from sagging over time.  The easiest way I found to do this was to line up the 47″ board under the frame we just built and then trace where the board met the corners.  Cut one side first, re-fit the board into the frame and check to make sure your mark is still accurate.

I cut too big because it’s easier to skinny something down to fit, than to drive the the home improvement store to buy more wood because it’s too small.

Drill pocket holes into the corners of your angle braces, I went with one hole for each side.  Attach to the frame with 2 ½” pocket screws.

cut and attach the angle braces

Look at that fit!!  Perfection!

Building a gate, gate DIY

Step five: Facing the gate

Hard part is all done folks!  All that’s left is attaching the fence boards to the front of your gate DIY.

The position of your gate frame really depends on your preference.  You can centre it on your fence boards, or what I did here, was place the frame low on the fence boards so that any sheepdogs/French bulldogs running at it wouldn’t be able to loosen the boards easily.

Cut your fence boards to the height you want your gate to be (less half an inch since it will be ½” off of the ground).  Attach the fence boards using 1 ½” wood or deck screws.

The pressure treated fence boards I was using were still wet, so for a tight fit I screwed one down and then used a pipe clamp to hold the rest tightly together.  Pre-drill your holes (mark a straight line with a ruler for a more professional look), and then attach the boards.

Step 6: Make it pretty

Building a gate can be as easy as making a solid rectangle and hanging it, or you can add a simple detail to bring your gate DIY up a notch.  I opted for an inverted arch, created by attaching a string to a pencil and tracing a half circle onto my boards – above the height of my frame.  Same idea if you wanted your arch up like a rainbow; tie the string to the pencil then find a centre point on your fence and extend the length of the string until the pencil line is rounded to the shape you want.

trace an inverted arch by using a string and pencil

Cut with a jig saw.

I used a roundover bit in my trim router and a bit of sanding to make it a bit smoother.

Step seven: Attaching the hardware

Mark your fence boards at the points where there are 2×4’s behind.  When building a gate, you want the hinges attached to the strongest sections, and not the fence boards alone.  I used a 6″ T-strap hinge to give the most grip on the gate itself, without needing another 6″ for the post width.  Decide which way you want your gate to swing and attach your hinges accordingly

attaching the hardware to your gate

Step eight: Hanging your gate DIY

Cut ½” spacers from scrap wood.  Place a few of the spacers under the gate to position it between your fence posts.  Attach your gate to the fence post using the middle hinge first, this way if your posts aren’t perfectly straight, you have a bit of wiggle room to move the gate to angle it in.  Ideally you want ½” of space on both sides.  Once positioned where you want it, finish screwing the hinges in place and remove the bottom spacers.  Check to make sure it swings easily and freely

Step nine: Latches

Whatever latch you decide to go with will have installation instructions included.  I re-used my old latch and installation was simple.

I LOVE the look of these door handle type latches, but they would be way too easy for dogs to jump on and accidentally open.

Building a gate, gate DIY

For me, with a tiny bit of experience – but certainly no expertise – building a gate took about 2 hours start to finish.  This gate DIY is a simple project that anyone can do with just a few tools and a little bit of confidence.

Building a gate, gate DIY

Gate frame is low so that even a charging bull(dog) won’t get enough leverage to loosen the boards.  I’ll try to remember to photograph it later this summer when everything isn’t so muddy and dead-looking.

Building a gate, gate DIY

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Building a gate, gate DIY


Building a gate, gate DIY
 Have a great one!