Wooden Gates can be a very expensive aspect of your home, and is often an afterthought by many new homeowners. Just recently we moved into an old Victorian house which needed a reasonable amount of work to be done. We have very specific tastes and as I would be working from home we knew that wherever we moved would need a lot of decorating just so we feel comfortable with the interior look and feel. In the end we settled on an older house and started working our way through and updating the majority of the rooms, fitted a new bathroom, installed a new boiler and a whole number of other things. By the end of it we had spent most of our budget but it was finished to a very high standard and we were happy with the outcome.
That was until we realised the exterior, in particular the obvious need for wooden gates surrounding the property. The existing fencing was very old and had not been maintained well, I even had a friend come round to see what we could salvage and it was not a good diagnosis.
After realising that the majority of the exterior fencing needed to be replaced as well as the front driveway gate, we got to thinking on how it was going to be possible on our ever decreasing budget. As my friend is a bit of a dab-hand at joinery he offered to help me out in building one ourselves – this sounded like a great solution and it meant I got to pick my own wooden gate design!
Wooden Gate Designs
There are numerous types of wooden gates available when you are browsing gardening centres like Homebase or B&Q but I didnt really want to replicate something anyone could go out and buy. After all if we are going to make it ourselves then I want people to see that. Therefore I started researching different wooden gate designs and have collected the following examples –
As you can see there are numerous types of wooden gate designs available but at least the above designs should give you some inspiration, after all there is nothing wrong with creating your own design – thats what custom is all about!
We actually settled on a design very similar to the first for our wooden gate, this was done because it was fairly simple (no need for wrought iron materials) but also because it provides good security and it will be in-keeping with the fencing we already have on the property. This design also works really well on a driveway as the bi-fold mechanism allows vehicles to pass through with no additional space necessary, unlike the sliding wooden gates you can find on some properties.
After picking the design for your wooden gates, next is onto collecting materials and actually building the gate itself. This is often the most tricky part of the whole thing so if you have friends who are practical with their hands then now is the time to enlist their help! Ours was going to be a team of two, albeit one very much more skilled with woodwork than the other.
Local to us we have a great little business who focus on recycling wood, up-cycling products and selling them back to the public. Luckily, as part of their wood recycling program, they have a lot of wood available to purchase with much of it coming from local sources.
Picking The Wood
This is going to be a tough decision and can often depend on whats available. In our old house the wooden fencing was made out of rough sawn timber which was untreated so it didn’t take long for it to start bowing and losing its shape. Really you want to avoid using untreated wood because it will not last long when presented to the elements and you will find yourself rebuilding your wooden gates a few years down the road.
When it comes to choosing the type of wood you have a choice of two main types; hardwood and softwood. Hardwood is the strong and durable type which we would recommend, the main disadvantage though is that it can be harder to work with in terms of carving, cutting, bolting screws etc. but when outside they tend to last much longer and are often a nicer looking wood when finished properly. When choosing a hardwood for your gates you have the following types –
Best used as an internal wood for solid and veneered furniture, cabinets and wall panels. Walnut is strong and easy to work with and it has a solid structure that resists shrinking and warping in most settings. Its fine texture provides a good finish to any project and you will often find it used in Kitchens as it is also hardwearing.
Has a fine grain and a distinct reddish brown colour. Like most hardwoods, it is very durable because it resists shrinking, swelling and warping. It can be used for cabinets, boats, wood facings and is typically used for many interior furniture items such as dining tables or wooden seating.
Oak is a strong wood that has good bending qualities. It doesn’t absorb moisture easily and it provides a good finish to any piece of furniture. The structure of oak wood also allows stains and treatments to be easily applied to the open pores, often giving a really good finish to the wood. Oak is also a great wood to use if reclaimed, often you can find 200 year old pieces of oak that, after some restoration, will look even better than is freshly sawn.
This is a much less common hardwood found in the home as it is often used for applications such as musical instruments, piano cases and even tool handles. This is because the wood has a very neutral, durable quality that is great in practical applications.
Commonly used in hardwood flooring, Maple is best known for their use in bowling alleys as the wood is easily machined, has a fine texture and gives a great finish when properly treated. This wood is tight grained, which allows finishes and stains to be spread evenly and gives a very uniform finish…one of the reasons bowlers love it so much.
Wood from this tree ages well but like its name, when exposed to sunlight will turn a very red colour. Because of this many uses of cherry wood are chosen because of this colouration, for example its commonly used on high end boat trims, furniture or even kitchen cabinets and worktops.
This is a very durable and resistant wood which is used in luxury furniture items such as tables and outside furniture. It resists moisture and rot so is great for outside applications, however it is very expensive when compared to some of the more commonly available hardwoods. It’s also not prone to warping, decaying and cracking so can be used for a variety of applications both indoors and out.
We actually had our wood decision made for us as there were only two types of hardwood available, teak and oak. Normally we would have opted for the more affordable oak wood but as it was reclamation we managed to get a great price on the teak as it was in need of TLC. The best plan of action is to know exactly how much wood you need before setting out to the store, this can be essential when trying to save money as it also stops you from buying too much. Therefore draw out your plans first, size them up and get a clear idea of how much wood you need and of what type. Luckily for our wooden gate design we only have 1 type of wood necessary, but the more adventurous may opt for 2 or 3 types of wood for their gates.
With all the parts together we then started the build process. Because of the preparation we had put in (and the help of an experienced woodworker) we managed to get the gate fabricated quite quickly. Essentially you need to break down your wooden gate design and start to focus on the joints and how it all goes together. With ours we kept the design simple and managed to get the gate finished within a day – lightning speed!
We did think this video may help some of you though, at least you can use it as guidance and scale up from there –
Hopefully the above has given you some guidance on where to go next when building your own set of wooden gates. If its only helped to solidify your decision to get your wooden gates professionally made then we can only recommend the guys at Bespoke Gates & Garage Doors as they have a great range of pre-defined styles if your looking to buy wooden gates. They are actually a small company in Somerset who I originally spoke to when getting some prices, even though they were a bit over my (small) budget they were able to help with a few crucial decisions and even recommended some woods to use!
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