Build A Timber Fence

  • Build A Timber Fence

Make a driveway entrance for your property for just $1000. 

This homestead had a boundary defined by a fence with brick columns flanking the driveway entry, but there weren’t any gates. 

To match the architectural style and colour of the country home, lightweight gates were built. 

Spanning nearly 3500mm, they are made from dressed all round (DAR) Western red cedar and hung on 75mm square galvanised posts that are concreted into the ground. 

Electric openers secured to the posts are powered by a solar panel for automatic movement, with a stop installed in the ground at the front. 

Each gate is 1700mm wide with 15mm clearance between the stiles and posts, and a 15mm gap at the centre. 

Mark a full-size setout on two 2400 x 1200mm sheets of MDF, check the parts are square and aligned, then cut out the timber pieces and position them on the MDF setout.  

Joining the ledger and brace 

The ledger secures to the stiles and is notched at the centre to hold the brace. The brace is cut on an angle
to fit into the corners of the frame and spliced to lock into the ledger.

TIP The brace transfers part of the weight of the gate to the hinged side, offsetting the tendency to sag.

Step1. Position the brace

Position the brace between the frame corners so it runs from the base hinge up to the latch. Mark the angles to fit into the corners, cut, then mark where it crosses the ledger.

position the brace,

Step 2. Mark up the ledger  

Mark up the ledger with 60º angles at the end of the lines. Measure 25mm in to mark a lineback to the edge, using a jigsaw to cut the waste on both sides.

step 2. mark up the ledger

Step 3. Reposition the brace

Reposition the brace in the frame corners to mark the ledger cutouts on it. Use a jigsaw to cut the brace to fit, securing with exterior PVA adhesive and galvanised nails skewed into the ledger.

step 3. reposition the brace,

Haunched mortise and tenon 

This has a tenon that is one-third the thickness of the timber that passes through the stile, plus a mortise that is the socket to match. The haunch is a short section of the tenon that fits into the groove beside the mortise to keep the joint from twisting.

haunched mortise and tenon, handyman magazine,

Barefaced mortise and tenon 

This is used when the rails and ledger are thinner than the stiles. It has a tenon with one shoulder, which allows the width to be increased to half the thickness of the timber, making the joint stronger.

barefaced mortise and tenon, handyman magazine,

Build the gates 

Step 1. Cut haunched tenons

Mark the shoulder lines 1520mm apart across the base rail ends. On the top rails, use the MDF setout to mark the angled shoulder lines. Use a sliding compound mitresaw to make 20mm relief cuts. Clean out the waste and cut a 60 x 25mm haunch on each tenon.

Step 2. Cut the mortises

On the base rails, mark the tenons and haunches by squaring around all faces. Set a mortise gauge to 25mm and score parallel lines between the setout marks on the stiles, chiselling out the waste. Cut the base tenons as before and check for a tight fit.

Step 3. Prepare ledger joints

On the ledgers, mark the shoulder lines for the barefaced mortise-and-tenon joints, set the blade depth to 16mm and make
close relief cuts on one side. Clean up the tenon cheek, then chisel out a matching mortise in the stile.

Step 4. Cut top rail curve

On 1800 x 140 x 4.5mm plywood, mark and cut a 100mm wide curve to the centre of the gate as a template. Mark the curves on the top rails, cut with a jigsaw and use a belt sander with 80 grit abrasive paper to sand, rounding over the edges.

Step 5. Test frames

Use a trim router and 12mm straight bit to cut a 20mm deep rebate along the edge of the top and base rails for the pickets, increasing the depth with each pass. To test-fit, assemble the frames, pulling together with a sash clamp at each rail. Check for square.

Step 6. Assemble frames

Position the frame on the setout, apply exterior PVA adhesive to the tenons, tap the joints together and use sash clamps to wind them in until the shoulders are firmly against the stiles. Check for square, then tap timber wedges into the joints, leaving to dry.

Step 7. Secure the brace

Use the setout to mark and cut the ledgers and braces, applying adhesive, then securing the brace to the ledger and frame with nails. Cut protruding tenons and wedges flush with the face of the stiles, then use a belt sander to smooth over the joints until flush.

Step 8. Add the pickets

Position the pickets in the rebate of the base rail, using 25mm spacers suspended on nails, then mark the tops to match the curve of the top rail. Cut with a jigsaw and secure with galvanised nails, then finish with two coats of exterior gloss acrylic.

Click on the diagram

Click on the diagram to see each component of the timber gate.

Click on the cutting list

Click on the cutting list to see what items are needed for this project.

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