User Reviewed

How to Build a Wooden Gate

Three Parts:Getting StartedBuilding the GateFinishing the Gate

A broke-down gate just makes your house look bad. A well-maintained gate, on the other hand, can be welcoming and give passers-by a great impression of the house beyond. If you want to upgrade the wooden gate in a privacy fence, or some other kind of wooden security fence, you can learn how to plan out the job properly, build the thing quickly, and finish it off securely.

Part 1
Getting Started

  1. Image titled Build a Wooden Gate Step 1
    Get the tools and materials necessary to the job. Aside from a fence in need of a gate, you'll need a few common hand-held carpentry tools to get started making your gate. It's likely you'll need:
    • Screwdriver
    • Power drill
    • Compound miter saw
    • Carpenter's level
    • Jigsaw, for cutting a decorative profile
    • 3-inch stainless steel coated deck screws, for putting the box frame together
    • 1 ¼ or 1 ⅝ stainless steel or coated deck screws, for planking
    • Hinges
  2. Image titled Build a Wooden Gate Step 2
    Make sure the fence can support a gate. The size of the gate should not be greater than 4' (1.22 m) in width. If it is wider, you must make and hang two gates, which will meet in the middle.
    • Measure the entry at the top and bottom as they can easily be different. Build the gate to be square based on the narrower measure. Take diagonal measurements to check for squareness.
  3. Image titled Build a Wooden Gate Step 3
    Anchor and plumb the fence posts, if necessary. You need to make sure that hanging the gate won't pull the posts to one side. The way you anchor the post will depend on the size of the fence, but in general, you need to make sure the post doesn't wiggle with weight. If it can be easily moved, the gate will sag. You should also check and see that the post is level, straight up and down.
    • Ideally, a 4-foot (1.22 m) tall gate needs a 5" x 5" (12.7cm x 12.7 cm) redwood post. A 6-foot (1.83 m) tall gate requires a 6" x 6" (15.3 cm x 15.3 m) post.
  4. Image titled Build a Wooden Gate Step 4
    Measure the frame. The frame for a basic wooden fence gate should be a simple box with 4 sides, usually somewhat smaller than the gate opening. If you've got a 3x5 opening in the fence, build a 3x4 box out of a weather resistant wood. The box should be about an inch less wide than the rough opening to account for hinges and the thickness of gate as it swings.
    • Typically, you'll want to use the same variety of wood used on the fence. If you want a different color, redwood is sometimes used for large gates. Whatever you choose to use, buy more lumber than you'll need to make sure you've got enough for the job.

Part 2
Building the Gate

  1. Image titled Build a Wooden Gate Step 5
    Cut 2 x 4 (5.08 x 10.16 cm) frame pieces to size with a mitre saw. Start the gate by cutting the top and bottom pieces to the same width/length as you planned for, slightly smaller than the opening in the fence. Cut the upright side planks about 3 inches shorter than the height of the gate.
  2. Image titled Build a Wooden Gate Step 6
    Screw in the top and bottom planks. Drill a pilot hole for the screws before putting them in so that they do not split the wood. Fasten with deck screws, pre-drilling to keep the wood from splitting. Measure from the top bend to the opposite bottom corner. Both sides should measure the same.
    • Typically, as you start assembling, the gate framing, it's good to lay it out on a flat surface, such as a patio or driveway. Attach the top and bottom rails to the side rails, making sure it is square.
  3. Image titled Build a Wooden Gate Step 7
    Cut an angled cross-brace and attach it to the top and bottom rails. This helps maintain strength and rigidity. Connect these to the frame boards that match the rest of the fence by using deck screws, pre-drilling as before.
    • Make your diagonal cut with a mitre saw. Place the diagonal onto the box and trance with a pencil where the angles go.
  4. Image titled Build a Wooden Gate Step 8
    Cut and install the planks. Once you've designed the frame and built it, all you need to do now is attach flat planks evenly over the front of the frame to finish your basic wooden gate. Measure planks from the top to the bottom of the frame and cut them accordingly. Leave at least ⅛ inch between the planks for weather allowances.
    • Cut planks using a table saw and secure them using deck screws, drilling pilot holes to keep your planks nice and clean.

Part 3
Finishing the Gate

  1. Image titled Build a Wooden Gate Step 9
    Design the top of the gate. Most people like to take a little time to design the top of the gate and add a little decoration to it, using a jigsaw. If you don't want to take the time to, it's not necessary, but it's a good way to make the fence look nice. Generally, a beveled edge, an imprint of your last name, or other little decorative markers are popular.
    • To start, draw an arc across the top of the fence using a string and a pencil, filling it with decorative curves according to your taste. If you're a woodworker, feel free to get fancy with it. Use the jig to cut along your pattern.
  2. Image titled Build a Wooden Gate Step 10
    Install hinges and attach the gate to the fence. Put the gate into place, supporting it on the bottom with a 2x4 (1.5 inch off ground). Use a pencil to mark where the hinge should go on the post, and then put the gate down. Predrill where the screws will go. Prop up the gate and screw the hinges into the gate and attach the hinges to the post.
  3. Image titled Build a Wooden Gate Step 11
    Install a gravity latch. Most easy-to-use fences will use a gravity latch, which you can install after you've hung the fence. Mark where the screws will go with a pencil, then drill pilot holes and install the latch. Get the fit first before you put any finish on the gate.
  4. Image titled Build a Wooden Gate Step 12
    Seal the wood. Try to hit every exposed surface with your sealer, using a paintbrush or garden sprayer to apply. Most home retailers sell pads that are basically a sponge on a stick that you can use to spread it around, if necessary.
    • Try to cover the whole surface evenly, making sure you hit the bottoms of the planks, which tend to absorb more water than the face grains. This is the area most likely to rot or become discolored. Let dry for a couple hours in dry climates or a day in more humid climates.
  5. Image titled Build a Wooden Gate Final


  • Combine your wood with fine iron barn door hinges and latches, and the gate will promise years of good service
  • Spring or spring-loaded hinges ensure that the gate fence stays shut.
  • Measure twice, cut once on all cuts! Remember, you can always cut things shorter but you can't undo any cut once you've done it.
  • Redwood is a prefect for a nice fence and gate. It provides excellent weathering properties and takes on a nice, rich shade of gray over a period of time.


  • Always wear safety glasses and ear protection when working with power tools.

Things You'll Need

  • Fence boards
  • 2" x 4" (5.08 x 10.16 cm), cut to the desired height
  • 3-inch (7.62 cm) deck screws for framing
  • 2-inch (5.08 cm) deck screws for fence boards
  • Hinges
  • Latch
  • Hammer
  • Framing or speed square
  • Crosscut hand saw
  • Electric circular or miter saw
  • Cordless or corded electric powered drill.

Article Info

Categories: Walls Fences and Decks