At one point, I wanted this blog to have all sorts of instructions on do-it-yourself projects, but most of the time, I forget to take pictures or even forget that I’ve done a project. But recently I built four gates for the fence that I just put up. After I finished the first two, I thought, “I should take pictures of this because it’s unlike anything I found online”. So here is how I built cheap gates.
I wish I could say how much it cost to build each gate, but as with most of my projects, it took 8 trips to the hardware store to buy/return stuff and when it is all over, I have no desire to figure out how much it actually cost to build the gate. I am happy with the gates and they were fairly inexpensive.
Here was what I did for lumber… and I might regret this. I ripped a couple of pieces of plywood into 3.5 inch strips that I used for my boards. I read about it online and it tends to provide good structural support because the fibers are running in different direction in each ply of the wood. After I finished, I realized that I read about using this indoors, and I fear that the outdoor use will make them rot quickly. If I were to do it again, I think I would use cedar fencing. So first, I measured and cut.
There are a lot of boards in this photo, but just pay attention to the top four. I made a frame out of my strips of wood. I’m not good at doing 45-degree corners, so I just cut them square and then offset each corner so there was overlap. It ended up being stronger than I thought it would be. So at this point, there is nothing holding it together, it’s just laying there, ready to be built.
Now I’ve taken a piece of fencing and am going to sandwich it between the boards that will make up the frame. No, the boards don’t fit together as snugly as I would have liked, the fencing really sort of gets in the way. It may have worked better with cedar which seems a bit softer to me, but I’m not sure if that is true or not.
Here I have finished sandwiching the fencing between the two layers of frame. It is all screwed together and ready to move on. At this point, the gate is a bit flimsy, but in a low-use area, it just might work.
I then cut a diagonal piece to go across the gate for support. The best part of this was that I didn’t measure anything. I put the board where it was going to go and I stuck a pencil up through the fencing and drew on the bottom side of the board. I cut it and it fit in better than it would have if I measured it. I glued it into the corners. I used lots of glue because I really like wood glue for some reason.
I put hinges on it so that it would be more gate-like. The hinges were by-far the most expensive part of this project. The prices on hinges varied greatly from store to store, but I eventually got the best price at the over-priced farm store in town.
Here it is ready to paint. You will notice that I put another diagonal piece in. It probably would have worked fine with just one, but I thought it looked better with two. It also allowed me to screw them together in the middle so it held better than my glue job at the corners. Then I painted it. If I had used cedar, I probably could have gone without painting it and that would have been a positive, but I learned from this one, when I need to rebuild them in a couple of years, the next gates will be better… and hopefully last longer.
And there is the finished gate. The first gate that I built, I painted some of the principles that we are trying to live. We believe that everything should be treated with love, respect, integrity and peace. Among the things that should be treated that way are people, animals, plants and the earth. I like having this as the entrance to the garden area because every time I go to work, I’m reminded of what we’re doing. I’m not just farming, I’m trying to work with mother nature to do things right and live in harmony with all that is around me.
So what did it cost to build a gate? I bought two sheets of 5/8″ plywood that were ~$20 each and that was enough to build all four of the gates and I’ve still got a bit leftover. The hinges were ~$15 each, so $30 per gate. I had the fencing leftover from another project and the screws and paint were also just sitting around. I would estimate that I paid less than $50 per gate to build these. They are plenty stout to keep the sheep in… or at least they have been so far, but the sheep really haven’t challenged them yet either. They swing easy and are light weight. I didn’t price cedar fencing, but I’m pretty sure this was less expensive than using 1x4s. I am not sure that it will last as long in the weather, but we will just have to wait and see about that.