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DIY (Do it Yourself) Strong (no sag) Wood Pedestrian Gate Build

DIY (Do it Yourself) Strong (no sag) Wood Pedestrian Gate Build

DIY (Do it Yourself) strong (no sag) wood pedestrian gate build? Okay let’s do one! I’ve been getting quite few requests for free instructions and/or plans for building, especially my gates but also my fences. Or rather how I would build their projects. I have accepted a very few rare customers on an on-call/retainer consulting basis for their projects. All their projects turned out excellent, I am happy about that. So let’s get into a real good, DIY (do it yourself) strong (no sag) wood pedestrian gate build. At the very end of this blog article, see something different (from me) that I’m recommending. Yes it’s excellent. Get (purchase) it through me if you would, that’d be great. If I get really good results from this article, then I will follow up with more and more to make this a big, juicy series. It will have tons of very useful information about exactly how I build what I build. That’s IF I get really good results (see what I’ll selling at the end)!

 

I built two of these, matching gates, one for each side near the front of the house. We’ll zero-in on the slightly wider space that was approx. 5′ wide from house wall to side wood fence. The old, previous wood gates were absolute garbage, as is usually the case. I removed the old deteriorated gates.

 

As I describe and show the gate-posts, they’re for both matching gates. As I describe the gate, I’ll be focusing on the one, slightly wider space gate, for this DIY (do it yourself) strong (no sag) wood pedestrian gate build.

 

First we need two posts in the ground, a hinge post (which does more work and must be the stronger of the two) and a latch post. The hole I dug for the hinge post was about 3′ deep, probably a few inches more. Yes it’s necessary if you want it to last. The latch post was about 2.5′ deep, give or take an inch. Make sure the holes DON’T get smaller and skinnier as they get deeper. It should be approx 12″ in diameter at the top, AND at the bottom, all the way down. Some guys say it should have a bell-shaped profile, being wider at the bottom. In some situations like on a hill, maybe. It depends on the situation, every situation is different. Everybody has an opinion. In this situation (this jobsite build) it was not necessary, for this DIY (do it yourself) strong (no sag) wood pedestrian gate build. And just to make sure everything is right, any Amazon links that I place in this article have the building goodies, tools, materials, etc., priced AT or BELOW big box store prices if they’re even available. UNLESS I tell you otherwise right before that link.

 

I used a regular post-hole digger (two-stick, hinged scooper), a steel breaker/digging bar (it’s actually called a “San Angelo Digging Bar”) for loosening the dirt as necessary. The wedge end is sharp too, great for chopping roots in the hole. I also use a Makita mid-sized electric breaker/demohammer/jackhammer. Had mine for 8 years, finally brought it in for its first service for about $180.00 like 2 years ago. Still running strong whenever I need it.  You also need a 1-1/8 inch bit for the jackhammer.  I have always used the chisel bit with the greatest success, I’ve tried the others. All these to dig the holes, get the old concrete broken and removed, get through tough clay or rock or sandstone in the earth. Oh? You want to see my electric jackhammer? Here it is today, still going strong. Second chisel bit nearing the end. Lots and lots and lots of use!

CLICK HERE for the post hole digger that I use to dig holes from Amazon

CLICK HERE for the digging bar that I use to dig holes and chop roots in the hole from Amazon

CLICK HERE for MY electric jackhammer from Amazon

CLICK HERE for MY chisel bit for my electric jackhammer from Amazon

 

 

The latch post is a pressure treated Douglas Fir (PTDF) 4×4 with a 2x2x18GA galvanized square steel tube bolted together as a single piece. Luckily for the customer I had a 12-footer left over from a larger project, so I cut it into two 6-footers, one for each latch post. The steel end goes into the hole to be buried with fresh concrete. Is this really necessary? Well yes it is. That 4×4 latch post WILL warp over time, maybe just a little, maybe more, it is very difficult to predict that. The steel 2×2 bolted to it helps keep it from warping over the years and weather. Plus it makes it even stronger to withstand the gate closing and slamming against it over the years.

 

I laid them across on top of my saw-horses. I clamped them together after I lined them up just perfect. I measured and marked where to drill. I drilled through the steel 2×2 first so the steel was on top (having steel-drilling drill bits makes it easy). Then I switched drill bits to a longer wood drill bit to finish the hole all-the-way-through the 4×4. I reamed it with two or three extra strokes to make sure the hole was clean before removing the bit. Always keeping the bit spinning full speed (just like sawing with a saw blade), just when you begin, all the way through, and back out into the air when it’s done, THEN release the trigger and let the drill stop spinning. For these I used 6″x3/8″ galvanized carriage bolts with a matching washer and nut. After drilling the hole I pounded the carriage into the hole from underneath with my framing hammer, then got out the right size socket plus a ratchet, put the washer & nut on, then tightened away until the carriage head SUNK into the wood 4×4, since it (the 4×4) will shrink from drying and it’s supposed to last for a long time. After a post is done, off come the clamps. These are awesome, strong and long lasting latch posts for this project, this DIY (do it yourself) strong (no sag) wood pedestrian gate build.

The hinge post(s) for this DIY (do it yourself) strong (no sag) wood pedestrian gate build, will each be a 3″x3″x1/4″ thick square steel tube buried in fresh concrete, THEN sandwiched (and bolted together) by a 4×4 wood post on each side. The 4×4 wood posts float above the ground approx. 1″.

Find your local industrial or ornamental steel supplier for these babies. Normally available in 20′ lengths, I had them cut my 20-footer in half, into two 10-footers. They’re a little heavy, and dirty.

I laid them out on my saw-horses. Then wipe them down really good with a microfiber rag soaked with either paint thinner or Goof-Off like I used here. The Goof Off is a better, stronger solvent. You save at least $10 by purchasing it from Slow Depot. But if going there isn’t the choice you want, then there’s the link for that right below.  And there’s a great deal on microfiber rags too. I don’t care what colors they come in since I use them for rags for work or detailing my truck. I got these wood Burro sawhorses from either Slow Depot or Slow’s, it’s been a long while and I go so often to both mainly for lumber. They’re great, last a long time, but cumbersome and bulky for storage and transport. I didn’t find anything online that I like. If you want sawhorses, please find the ones that you prefer. We’re going to paint these with the correct paint for this application, so they last a long time. So we want that paint to stick and stay for a very long time. As you can see, this project, this DIY (do it yourself) strong (no sag) wood pedestrian gate build is getting serious. But hey, it’s supposed to last for a very long time.

CLICK HERE for 1 gallon of Goof Off from Amazon

CLICK HERE for microfiber rags from Amazon

 

There’s both the painting tools and the paint that I used, in the photo above. Here’s that primer/paint to protect the steel that I use.  And the 4 inch weenie roller kit gets it done the fastest and easiest. Just make sure you mix that paint VERY good before you use it. First I get the three top sides with a good, single coat. Set them out in the sun to let them dry for a couple or a few hours. Then when they’re dry, carefully flip ’em to paint the last side. Carefully to not accidentally scrape any paint off the freshly painted sides. It’s an excellent oil-based (petroleum solvent based) paint (actually primer), so you can leave it, or paint over it with another color to match the color scheme of your residence and estate as you see fit. You can always touch them up if necessary with a small brush after they’re in the concrete.

CLICK HERE for that awesome primer-paint that I use from Amazon

CLICK HERE for the easy 4 inch weenie roller kit that I use from Amazon

 

Now let’s get into the holes, the concrete pour, lining up and leveling/plumbing {vertically level (using a level usually) is called “plumb” in construction lingo} up them posts for this DIY (do it yourself) strong (no sag) wood pedestrian gate build. First, obviously make sure the holes line up with how you want the gate to be positioned. In my case it was a perfect 90 degrees to the house (square to the house, perpendicular to the house wall, windows are normally parallel with the house wall). To save time first get the posts done to the point of allowing the paint to dry. While the paint is drying you can demo the old gate if necessary and dig the holes.

 

This jobsite situation demands the gate open inward, away from the house wall (so it doesn’t bang against the house from the maid, or the gardeners every week). You can swing your gate any way you want, it’s YOUR gate and YOUR house, right? I didn’t take any photos of the concrete pour so I’ll do my best here. If a post is really close to the house look out for the gas and water supply lines into the building. The latch post is so close I had to skim off a little bit off the protruding concrete foundation underneath to have enough fresh concrete encircle the entire post (very important) all the way down the entire hole. For that you can chip it away with the electric breaker/jackhammer, which I did and do usually. You can also get out the angle grinder with a concrete blade and slice away, and follow that with the jackhammer as necessary. Dry concrete cutting makes quite a lot of concrete dust so beware. I still smoke cigarettes as of this writing so it does not really bother me, I hold my breath and/or try to aim the dust-stream away if possible. My nose gets full of dust so have to evacuate the wet nasal filters with a couple of good blows into a paper towel or blue shop paper towel (always carry a roll in my truck).

 

For this DIY (do it yourself) strong (no sag) wood pedestrian gate build, or any gate build, lining up and leveling/plumbing-up the posts during the concrete pour JUST RIGHT is very important. I can’t overstate the importance of this. I did this one by myself, but I’ve built quite a few of these. Depending on your experience it’s probably best to have one or two people helping you. Since I didn’t take photos of this part I’m improvising here. Skipping ahead with a photo to see how the post alignment should be, making it easier to explain.

To get this just right, lay a 2×4 down on the ground across the space. Position it IN FRONT of the posts so it will touch THE FRONT of the posts as you level/plumb them up and pour the fresh concrete. Also 4000 PSI ready mix concrete is what most people use for this and fences, it’s on everybody’s shelves, 60# bags. Here in Los Angeles the Slow’s home improvement stores also have a 4500 PSI concrete on their shelves (not really on the shelf, on pallets in the store in the concrete isle actually. I use the 4500 PSI concrete since it has more Portland Cement in the concrete mix and therefore is stronger @ 4500 PSI (pounds per square inch), which is it’s strength rating typically after 30 days of curing time after the pour. 60# bags work best since you can mix one in 1 minute using a strong 5-gallon plastic bucket, a very heavy duty DeWalt Electric Drill that I’ve been using forever, for years as a mixer, with an egg-beater style mixer about 30″ long, they last forever, I’ve gone through four or five during the last 14 years. They work the best and last the longest of anything out there available for this application/use.  I put the egg beater mixer in the large electric drill and it’s fast!! I’ve mixed concrete so many ways, this is the fastest and easiest by far. Only thing you (the guy mixing) probably needs to put one foot on the top of the bucket to keep it from spinning, to hold it still while mixing up the concrete. You want to see my concrete mixer? Sure no prob. Here it is today. Lots and lots and lots of use, but still going strong. Haven’t bothered to clean off the egg beater as you can see. I have used this to mix hundreds of bags of concrete.

CLICK HERE for the DeWalt Electric Drill that I Use as a Concrete Mixer Forever,

CLICK HERE for the Egg-Beater Style Mixer that I used to mix concrete for years

 

Lay a full concrete bag on top of the 2×4 once you have the position and alignment perfect, and then don’t touch it. This keeps it from moving around while you’re leveling the posts and pouring. Do one post first, this can take several minutes depending on your strength and experience. Without touching the 2×4, get the post exactly plumb/level where you want it, eyeball it 1/8″ away from the 2×4. Then hold that post firmly in position by applying pressure directly downward, with both hands, with one hand also holding the level against it to allow you to monitor and maintain level/plumb during all this. Tell your guys “ready”. Then they use a garden hose with a fast squeeze-pistol nozzle to put about a gallon of water in the bucket. While one guy is holding the mixer with the giant egg-beater in the water, the other guy dumps that whole bag right into the bucket. As soon as the dry concrete starts pouring, then the mixer guys starts mixing full-trigger if it’s a variable speed. You say “dump it”. Then you say “spin it”. The dumper makes sure the bag is completely empty, then quickly toss it aside for clean up a little later. The mixer makes sure to mix ALL of the concrete perfectly, if it’s too dry the dumper (and you) are watching and the dumper shoots a little more water into the bucket. If the dumper isn’t looking you say “water”. When there’s enough water added to the bucket (you need to pay close attention) you say “stop water”. Make sure the mixer doesn’t leave any dry concrete on the sides or bottom of the bucket for each bag, the mixing should be fast and perfect. When it’s all, completely mixed then you say “dump it”. Hold that post downward with strength so when the HEAVY and fresh concrete hits the bottom of the hole and then pushes against the post, the post DOES NOT MOVE. Then repeat with the next 60# bag of concrete. Fill up the hole only to the top, just below the 2×4 guide. Then do the other hole the exact same way. The steel 3×3 post is very heavy so it might take longer to get into perfect position, level/plumb and alignment with the 2×4 guide (don’t touch it, eyeball 1/8″ away). Same deal, fill up the other hole, without bumping into the first post. Now remove the guide, kick it away. Level those posts perfectly using your 4′ level, or 2′ level will work in a pinch. Jiggle the post a little as you level/plumb it to vibrate the wet concrete to help it settle and encourage any air bubbles to rise to the surface. Then fill up the remaining amount for each hole. Then have a thick mix ready for the cakes. The cake is the top part of the concrete, it rises above the ground by about 1″. It is sloped AWAY from the post to shed water and moisture to inhibit rot and infestation of wood posts and rust of steel posts. Trowel it nice with a little rectangular 5″ trowel, wet on top with NO air spaces between the post and the concrete at the very top edge. Looking at the photo above you can see the shape of the cakes. This DIY (do it yourself) strong (no sag) wood pedestrian gate build is going to be excellent. The concrete is wet and heavy enough to hold the posts in perfect position until you return to build upon them, in a day or two depending on time of pour, weather. Before you leave level/plumb them again with the level, just make sure they’re right before you walk away.

We’re back so let’s get to work on this DIY (do it yourself) strong (no sag) wood pedestrian gate build. This was in a little bit of a fancy neighborhood that also had a problem with prowlers, so we’re going 7′ tall with these gates. I’ve got two 8-foot 4x4s clamped sandwich style on the steel tube post. They’re about 1/4″ off the concrete cake, laid a carpenters pencil down there first for each post to rest upon. Eyeball them into as perfect level and alignment as possible and clamp them but not too much. Then get picky with your level and make them perfect, adjusting them by tapping them with your framer (framing hammer) whichever direction they need to go. One tap at the top, oh too much, half tap back. Get them both just exactly level/plumb, even with each other, and with about 1/4″ of space above the steel (in front of the steel), front of house front.

CLICK HERE for Those Awesome Strong Clamps from Amazon

Strong Wood Pedestrian Gate Build, 10 of 27

Once you get them perfect clamp them down hard while making sure they do not move as you do that. Measure and mark where you want your bolts. You need a good 1/2″ diameter x 12″ long steel drilling drill bit. And a bit of muscle. A good drill bit like this is at least $50 or $60. Then drill your holes all the way through the first 4×4, the first side of the steel tube, the second wall of the steel tube, then the other 4×4. Pull your bit out every 15 seconds of drilling into the steel to either spray it with WD40 or drip several drops of engine oil on the bit, with the bit sloped slightly downward making sure the tip gets wet. The tip is doing most of the work. This will help the drill bit last longer. After you got one done, then pound your 1/2″x12″ long carriage bolt through. Put the washer on, then the nut and tighten it down hard, to bury the head of the carriage bolt.

See how that cake slopes up to the post? See how it has a perfectly sealed edge against the post at the top of the cake? Awesome. I like to use an open end wrench to tighten the nuts and sink the carriage bolt heads, even though I’m using the box end of my 3/4″ wrench in the photo right above. Now to make the steel posts even stronger and even more long lasting. We’re going to fill them all the way up with fresh concrete. It will also keep them from rusting inside-out from years of dew and rainwater. Get a folding 5′ or 6′ ladder for the hinge post. Get a funnel with at least a 1.5″ diameter exit hole. Mix another 60# bag but a little bit on the wet side. Get another bucket, a 1-gallon or 2-gallon bucket for easy pouring. After mixing in the 5-gallon bucket, pour some into the smaller bucket. Then use THAT bucket plus the funnel to fill up the square steel tube. Make sure your mix is not too wet, but still wet and runny enough to not clog as it pours past the bolts, especially on the latch post. Fill them both up all the way with that fresh concrete. If you want an even stronger hinge post, drop a 10′ long rebar strand or two, or three, or four down inside just before you pour, 3/8″ diameter at least. When I drop in my rebar I usually do two, depending on the job, I might do none, or I might do four. I make sure one goes on one side of the bolts, and the other goes on THE OTHER side of the bolts. Then fill ‘er up.

Yeah coffee and cigarettes, the sign of a good builder. That’s what all that grey slop mess is. It wipes right off with a clean, water-soaked microfiber rag. The concrete will settle, a tiny, tiny amount of water will filter out through both the bottom and/or the drilled holes. Every hour come back and top off the steel tube posts as necessary, having the concrete level with the top. Don’t worry, clean up is fast and easy tomorrow when it’s all dry. Looking forward to having this DIY (do it yourself) strong (no sag) wood pedestrian gate build on your property yet?

DeWalt reciprocating saw (sawzall), couple hundred-foot power, couple of air hoses for the nail gun. The reciprocating saw is extremely helpful cutting off the posts once I establish my final top line. Especially the latch post so close to the house, right?

Drill bits, angle grinder with a steel cut-off disc on it, concrete blade, more cut-off discs and sanding discs in my yellow “grinder bag”. Tailgate office ain’t that pretty but it works great! So let’s build the gate frame next. It’s based on the posts, which should be just about perfect, if not perfect. During building, construction, the more perfect a step is done, the easier it is to make/build the next step perfect. Because each step is “based upon”, built upon, fastened to, attached to, or measured & spaced from the immediately previous step. Determine the final height of the gate, NOT off the ground, but from the bottom of the gate to the top of the gate. The gate needs swinging clearance above the ground, to clear the cakes, any old tree stumps, maybe an up-slope. Determine what the height of the gate is going to be. In this case (it’s been a while since I took these photos) I think it was 81 inches, maybe 82, top of the gate (where I want it) to the bottom of the gate. Then take three careful and precise measurements within that space, from latch post to wood hinge post, high, middle and low. Those three measurements should all be within 1/8″ or less. If you’re good they’ll all be within 1/16″. This gate opening was almost 40″ wide, don’t remember exactly. But to show how to DIY, let’s go with 82″ tall and 39″ wide opening between the posts. Okay, 82″ minus 3″ (two 2x4s flat @ 1.5″ each) equals 3″. Okay, for this DIY (do it yourself) strong (no sag) wood pedestrian gate build, we need two 2x4s and one 4×4 all cut at exactly 79″, perfectly squarely-especially the 4×4. A chop/mitre saw is preferred with a good table set-up. You can wing it with a circular saw like I did on this one if you’re really good with a lot of experience. These numbers need to be within 1/32″, half a 16th, to make it easiest to pull off. Now the two width 2x4s, top and bottom pieces. 39″ opening width, so half inch for the hinge side, let’s do a quarter for the latch side since it’s a slightly wide pedestrian gate (narrower spaces and gates like 2′, 2&1/2″ swing differently and so require a little more space for clearance on the latch side to not rub the latch post). 39″ minus 3/4″ therefore, equals 38&1/4″, two 2x4s please @ 38&1/4″.

After those pieces are cut and they’re just about perfect, lay them out on as perfect and flat a surface as you can find, garage floor, flat driveway. Lay them out in exactly the shape they’re going to be in, without the second, 79″-long 2×4, leave that one aside for now. We’re just doing the outer, perimeter box of the gate frame first. I spaced and forgot to take photos of screwing the frame together on the ground, UGH! Here you can see it, to see how the frame members should be positioned and oriented with each other.

 

You can also see the 2×4 I put on top of the hinge side, running over to and fastened to a 2×4 I had fastened to the old wood fence there. Yes I know it’s a mess with the dried-up concrete droolings. I’ll get to that later with a water-soaked microfiber rag. I didn’t take a photo of them laid out, here’s how you do it. One 4×4, one tall 2×4 ONLY (for now), two width 2x4s, in exactly their finished position but laying on the ground as a big rectangle gate frame. Screw them together using 3.5″ coated exterior deck screws, star drive, three screws at each corner (T-25 size, you’re going to need a few of these size bit-drivers for your cordless drill). You can see I’ve driven the screws below the surface of the wood. Fresh pressure treated is very forgiving, you can just screw them in. Make your cuts so you do not have any knots at your screwing locations. Kiln dried or semi dried lumber splits more easily so you may need to pre-drill your screwing holes with a counter-sink bit first.

Here are my favorite framing screws that I always use.

CLICK HERE for Excellent 3 and 1 half inch Star Drive Framing Screws from Amazon

These are even better but slightly more expensive, they’re the best framing screws that I use when the project budget can afford it.

CLICK HERE for Even Better but Slightly more expensive Excellent 3 and 1 half inch Star Drive Framing Screws from Amazon

Here’s my favorite, excellent pre-drilling and countersink bit!

CLICK HERE for Excellent Pre-Drilling Bit from Amazon

 

AGAIN I will state, just to make sure everything is right, any Amazon links that I place in this article have the building goodies, tools, materials, etc., priced AT or BELOW big box store prices if they’re even available. UNLESS I state otherwise just before that link.

Next put that other tall 2×4 into position so it’s flush/even with the front edge of the frame. Gently hammer it into place. Clamp it in place and then screw it together using those 3&1/2″ star drive deck screws. From the outside, side 2×4, into the second 2×4. A couple of 4 inch x 5/16″ GRK T-30 size star drive lag screws equidistant from the top, and bottom (say like 10 inches) really hold it together. Bury the heads just flush with the surface as you drive them into the wood.

 

Still working on this!  I’ll finish it as soon as I can.  Sorry for the delay.