Introduction: Secret Door That Looks Like an 8' Fence

This was a mistake that had awesome results so I decided to use it as my first instructable. I had set my posts in concrete a couple of days in advance and when I went to build my gate I was running out of daylight so I decided to make a solid panel and wait to build the gate the following weekend. I needed to move some junk in and out of the backyard before the coming weekend, so I decided to attach the panel on one side to one of the posts on hinges to pivot it. I really thought I would have to pick up the end and gently move it when I would use it and was suprised to find that the fences rigidity would hold it and the whole thing pivots perfectly. I built this over a year ago and it has endured rain snow humidity heat ice and -3 temps and seems to be doing fine. You can beef up the design, but I think part of its success is due to its light weight construction. Sorry I didn't make a materials list, This is a very custom design and you'll have to know fence construction to build it so, you should easily recognize the materials you'll need. Feel free to send me questions if you have them.

Step 1: Set Two Posts in Concrete

So, you'll have to look up setting posts in concrete since I didnt record that part. Thats pretty standard stuff, but just in case you wonder I set mine in 24" holes that were around 18" in diameter. The posts are 8' treated 4x4's set 24" in the ground they are 6' tall. This is based on the frost line and code for concrete pouring (18" below frost line which is 6" below surface) in Lexington Ky. The left post is 18.5" from my house (gray house) and the right post is 60.5 from my house, these measurements will most likely change for your project, I'm just giving them for reference. I think I used a couple of 80 lb bags to pour the two holes, I left about four inches at the top of the hole to top fill with dirt, this maybe a bad idea for the logevity of the posts. Of course hold the posts in place with stakes and braces and let them cure for several days, etc. I had planned on installing a gate so I set two posts one for the hinge side the other for the latch side.

Step 2: Put Top and Bottom Rails on Right Post With Hinges

I dont have photos of this step since I didn't think this was going to be sucessful. I attached the two rails on the right post with hinges. the bottom one is 29" from the ground to the top edge of rail. The top one is 72.5" from the ground to the top edge of rail. The yard is 79" wide, the door is 77" wide to allow the door to swing without hitting the walls. I later hammered the tips of the hinge down. So after completing this step you will have two rails attached to the right post. They will both be very "droopy" don't worry when you start adding the pickets (step 3) they will tighten up and become rigid. Also tilt your head to left to view, sorry. The second photo shows tip hammered down and this website allowed me to rotate that one for some reason?

Step 3: Adding Pickets to Rails and Adding Top Stabilizer

Add the first and last pickets (far left and far right) only use one screw in the center of attachment points. Now you should be able to adjust your rails. Obviously you need to measure and be sure that your rails are parallel and straight. Now start filling in the middle one side to another- I went right to left. You should stagger the screws in a "v" pattern to increase rigidity (check out photo) As you add pickets you should notice the door becoming more rigid. By the last picket the door should be straight and not droopy. When I was done it worked great, except when it swung out the door would touch the ground and I noticed the right post was bending from the weight of the door extending outward. Thats when I added the top "stabilizer" bar (second photo), this is esstential to the design. Mine is screwed into the top of the right and left posts and then butts up to my house. I need to add an angle bracket to anchor it to my house to keep the posts from swaying outward when the door opens, although that doesn't seem to interfere with the doors function

Step 4: Add Screws to Left Post for a Latch

Now this is a step where I'm not real happy with my solution. I put two drywall screws in the left post, both meet up right under the bottom edge of the rails. I used 3" screws and left 1.5" of the screw out to match the thickness of the rails. So when the door closes The rails rest on those screws, The head of the scews hold the door in place. The door is raised slightly as you shut it and the weight of the door is supported by the two screws. This has two effects, one is it keeps the weight off the hinges, so the door doesnt droop. The second is the screw heads hold the rails in place, unless you lift slightly, the door doesn't seem to be able to move, so people don't realize its a door at all. I think I might make some angle iron to replace the screws as I imagine they wont hold up for more than a couple years. Also I drilled a big hole through the left post and I add a molly bolt to "lock" it when I'm out of town.

Step 5: Door Completed

The door should work now, if there is too much sway, you may have made it too large. It should pivot open easily. I'll try to add a video, when the thing is in motion it really wows people. In case you're wondering the plastic ground panels came from a railroad maintenance company who were throwing them away.

Comments

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r_anderson_c made it! (author)2014-10-12

Great project. Thanks for the inspiration!

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masoon (author)r_anderson_c2014-10-13

Nice job! Thanks for posting pics.

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abenavente (author)2014-07-30

the idea of a secret door is to have a secret room... there is no secret in here!
Here is a secret door https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-rvxYUDgCE

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Psycho4Ever (author)2014-07-23

Nice work :D what about adding a secret door lock? rfid and servos :D

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masoon (author)Psycho4Ever2014-07-23

Thats an awesome idea! Have you built a weather proof device like this? Im kinda scared of the use of electronics outside in Ky, this place is like the Dagobah system.

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Psycho4Ever (author)masoon2014-07-23

(Sorry if I make mistakes I am from germany ^^)

I haven't but it is not that complicated... Well the electronics must be in a weatherproof box and there is a locking mechanicms needed that is also weatherproof. :)

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_soapy_ (author)Psycho4Ever2014-07-25

How about a secret latch using a magnet? Find a bit of magnetic stainless and use that to conduct the magnetic force through the gate. There are kid-proofing locks that would be suitable, though perhaps not so great outdoors... You'd have to test them.

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masoon (author)_soapy_2014-07-25

Interesting idea!

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masoon (author)Psycho4Ever2014-07-23

(Sorry for making a Star Wars reference I'm from the US)

I like your idea and yes it could be made to withstand the weather. I would not want to always have the rfid tag or transponder on me, unless it were implanted under my skin- haha

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Psycho4Ever (author)masoon2014-07-23

I liked that Star Wars reference :D

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masoon (author)Psycho4Ever2014-07-23

The universal language of Star Wars, haha

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Mielameri (author)2014-07-24

Simple and clever; I would never have guessed that that was a gate without seeing it open! Nice work

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masoon (author)Mielameri2014-07-24

Thank you

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cfoster17 (author)2014-07-23

This is honestly one the coolest projects I've ever seen on this site.

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masoon (author)cfoster172014-07-24

Thanks!

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danzo321 (author)2014-07-23

Ingenious. In normal gate making, you connect the top rail's out-end to the inner end of lower rail with a 2x4 or a 1x4. That lets the weight of the outer gate transfer diagonally to the lower hinge. In your gate, there's weight on the outside of the main gate to counterbalance it.

You say your holes in ground were 18", that sounds really big and would take a lot of concrete. But you would want the post that bears the weight to be better set than the other, and maybe bent a little toward the house, so gate weight would straighten it out.

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masoon (author)danzo3212014-07-23

Great observation, i didn't think of the counter balance aspect. Another user suggested adding weight to the overhang part, maybe he was right? I could bolt some weights on there temporally and see how it functions. i agree a larger post would have been ideal, I was planning on a normal gate so I made normal posts set in concrete to code for Ky 18" below frost line which made them 24" deep

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danzo321 (author)masoon2014-07-23

Whoa there Masoon. All I am suggesting - if you need more integrity - is the diagonal strut described. Not a bigger post, not a counterweight.

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masoon (author)danzo3212014-07-24

whoops, i was responding to five or more comments and got confused, sorry for that

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brmarcum (author)2014-07-23

Really cool project. You'll have to incorporate it into one of your video projects!

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masoon (author)brmarcum2014-07-23

brmarcum! my new/ old friend, thank you for the kind words. Thanks again for all the advice on the sound controller. Did the video play for you this time?

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brmarcum (author)masoon2014-07-23

Yes and it's awesome

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actionjksn (author)2014-07-22

I do this professionally and I can give some additional input on setting posts. If you live further north than Lexington Kentucky you will need to go deeper than "24", check what the frost line is where you live. I live in Central Ohio and we are supposed to go at least "30", if you don't go deep enough then you risk frost heave. Especially if it's a fairly wet area. I've seen some posts get pushed up at least "8" out of the ground from not being buried deep enough, they weren't mine by the way.

And also you should never just stick the post in the ground on top of the dirt and put concrete around it. Instead you should add some dry concrete to the hole first, at least 4 inches . Then put the post on top of the concrete, then put concrete around it. The post will be much less likely to rot and it will also prevent the post from eventually pushing through the concrete and sinking. The concrete under the post will act like a foundation.

Then make sure it is plumb and then add some water,but not too much and then make sure it is not disturbed until the concrete has cured. You can also make temporary braces with stakes and 2X2 or ripped 2X4 or even 1X4 boards before adding water, pretty much whatever you have on hand will do for the bracing. This procedure will also work for setting posts for a deck or porch.

If you want some extra long term protection against your posts rotting it is a good idea to seal the posts before setting them in the ground. I usually dip them in some kind of a deck sealer and paint it on up at least a little bit above where it comes out of the ground. If you will be using solid stain or paint then you can use that too. Anything to keep the wood from absorbing ground water. Also if the post has been cut, put the uncut end into the ground. Sealing the post before burying it can and will add many years to the life of the wood.

Before you dig the holes you are supposed to call the utility protection service so they can mark the ground if there are any buried wires or pipes. It's typically a free service.

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masoon (author)actionjksn2014-07-23

Wow! thanks for the concrete know-how. Do you think I should dig the dirt thats on top out and fill with concrete? I kinda hate the way posts look with the splosh of concrete at the base.

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actionjksn (author)masoon2014-07-23

You can but you don't have to, I wouldn't cost much to do it and it probably would help. At the very least I would remove the dirt and apply a couple of coats of deck sealer from the concrete on up. After that you can either put the dirt back or fill it in with concrete. I have replaced a lot of rotten posts, and every time, they rotted almost in two starting at ground level on down at least eight inches into the ground. If you fill it back in with dirt you should tamp it down really well. Then keep filling it in so that it is a little high. That way the water can run away from the post, instead of draining down around the post. You can also get a small pump up garden sprayer with some clear deck sealer and soak all the wood with it. Then reapply it at least every other year. It would only take a few minutes and it will never rot then. If you do nothing it will last maybe 15 years, depending on the conditions.

Also if the gate ever starts sagging, get a thin piece of cable and a couple of eyelets that use nuts and washers. And put a small turnbuckle on one end of the cable, The cable runs diagonally starting on the top 2X4 at the top hinge side of the gate, the other end connects to the other eyelet which you mount to the horizontal 2X4 at the bottom on the latch side. So then if the gate starts to drag the ground, you simply take an open end wrench and tighten the turnbuckle and it will raise the gate. I hope you can picture what I'm describing. I plan to make a secret gate on my fence. Mine will need a little different design though. But I like what you did with yours.

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kc8hps (author)2014-07-22

Personally I think the biggest key to your success is the top cross brace which carries the weight over to the next wall that does an awful lot to support the structure.

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masoon (author)kc8hps2014-07-23

Agreed

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kjlpdx (author)2014-07-22

add a 2x4 block to your post such that when closed it takes the weight of the gate. this eliminates the need for a cross brace. you could also be clever and cut the top of the block a few degrees off so that it would hold the rail[notch the bottom of the rail the same angle as the block]. you would then have to slightly lift the gate to unlatch it from the block and swing it out.

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masoon (author)kjlpdx2014-07-23

I like this a lot better than my crappy screws, I think your idea will make the upgrade list. Dang I thought I was done!

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plasticbaldy (author)2014-07-22

Well done. Just needs a secret latch and jmwells mods.

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masoon (author)plasticbaldy2014-07-22

Thanks, I was thinking the same thing I just cant figure out how to hide the mechanism. I want an old electric cut off box with a bicycle brake cable attached to the knife switch inside the cut off box. Then I could bury the cable into a line of mortar and run it past the door and around to the post where it would work the latch. I would then retuck the mortar over top of the cable to hide where it goes

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plasticbaldy (author)masoon2014-07-22

Way too much work. Remove one paling and hinge it at the bottom. Spring load the top so when it's pulled forward a cable or 90 degree crank pulls the pin at the post. Don't pick an obvious paling near the wall.

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And don't pin it at the wall where it can be seen. Pin it into the post. A 90 degree crank at the paling and a 5/8" (16mm) rigid rod drilled into the post will be more solid than a bicycle cable. Screw a paling or strip of timber horizontally to the inside all the way across and drill a hole for the connection rod/bolt between the hinged paling and the crank to hide the mechanism. A couple of saddles can support the horizontal rod to the hole that you drill into the post. The crank can screwed to the top rail with a coach bolt so it can swivel. A staple and padlock can be installed on the inside for secure locking during the week when nobody is home or when you're away on holidays so that somebody who drove past and saw your secret gate open still can't get in.

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masoon (author)plasticbaldy2014-07-23

Its funny I had planned on doing something similar to my front gate with a single paling hinged at the bottom so I can pull it to enter. I also want to add a spring to the gate door itself so that when I pull the paling the gate swings open and out of the way. I'm always carrying stuff and a normal latch is hard to operate with a hand full. Thanks for the comment

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AuralVirus (author)masoon2014-07-22

Create a false "knot" in the wood that becomes a button and use that to push the mech to open the latch - good luck with designing it :D .

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masoon (author)AuralVirus2014-07-22

Auralvirus-This is the best idea yet, thanks!

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AuralVirus (author)masoon2014-07-22

You're welcome :P

I do hope you can add your results when completed.

(I dunno why but i really dig these "secret" door projects :D )

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masoon (author)AuralVirus2014-07-23

I will try, I'm super busy with work right now so it may be a little bit. Thanks again for the kind words

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lesteryoder (author)2014-07-22

This is so neat. I love secret doors and entry's. Great job. Check out my secret door bookcase at
Storage Hiding Bookcase
https://www.instructables.com/id/EQGKK17HE7D9ZZD/?lang=en

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lesteryoder (author)lesteryoder2014-07-22

Sorry. You may have to copy and paste address.
Storage Hiding Bookcase
https://www.instructables.com/id/EQGKK17HE7D9ZZD/?lang=en

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masoon (author)lesteryoder2014-07-23

Wow, that's an awesome secret door! i think you got me beat on that one. Im building an interior secret entrance to a spare bedroom, your project will be a lot of help.

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kewrw28 (author)2014-07-23

Dear Friend, This is one of the neatest things that I have seen in a very long time. TWO THUBS UP!

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masoon (author)kewrw282014-07-23

Thank you so much

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dackermans84 (author)2014-07-23

this is a very cool door! excellent work!

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masoon (author)dackermans842014-07-23

Thank you!

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jessyratfink (author)2014-07-22

So fancy! Great that it doesn't leave any drag marks on the ground either. :D

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mscullin (author)2014-07-22

A diagonal brace need not be heavy. A thin cable with a turnbuckle in the center will do the job (top of hinge side to bottom of swinging end), and will be adjustable as things move over time.

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askjerry (author)mscullin2014-07-22

Ya beat me to it!

Yes, a diagonal brace... turnbuckle style will really make a difference in a few years... very easy to adjust if needed and really strengthens the door as well.

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masoon (author)mscullin2014-07-22

Hey thanks for the tip... I was just wondering which way the diagonal should go. I'll post picks when I get the turnbuckle installed.

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spark master (author)2014-07-22

sweet, admit it though, soon you will put in the secret stair case going to the root cellar, or speak easy. chuckle.

My friends neighbor bough a house (on Long Island) that had a weird room in the basement and a storage area not under the house , accessable through the room.... turned out bootleggers used it, and the other parts of it are intact, but inaccessible (unless he reconnects the tunnel.... it used to go over 200 feet)

go for it! looks cool, retro 1930's