Concealed Gate Slide Bolt

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Introduction: Concealed Gate Slide Bolt

About: Business System Admin M-F ... Drum shop side hustle on Sat ... DIY enthusiast in spare time. I have a hobby workshop in my basement, which continuously evolves, as does my interests and skill level. I enjoy ma…

Those following along will know that in the Summer of 2021, I built a smallish section of fence with a concealed gate and pivoting slide bolt, but the remaining fence was dependent on a retaining wall replacement project.

The retaining wall was completed in December 2021.
I built the fence and gate throughout December 2021/January 2022.
Then winter shut me down, so the latch mechanism wasn't completed until April 2022.

This gate and slide bolt is also concealed, but the actuation is different. Instead of reaching over the gate for a handle, the knob/latch/opener is part of a decorative sign and hidden in plain sight.

Supplies

Fence Boards
2x4 Scrap
3/4" Copper Pipe
2" Poplar Dowel
1/4" Brass Round Stock
Glue
Pin Nails
Screws

Step 1: Fence Overview

I'll give a quick overview of the fence and anyone interested in more granular details can refer to the prior Instructable.

The construction uses Galvanized posts and brackets with pressure treated lumber. Posts along the retaining wall are 10ft in length with 4ft in ground with concrete - these were set by the contractors as they built the wall. Posts along the back are 9ft with 3ft in ground with concrete - these were set by me and the holes dug by hand. Spacing is between 5.5 and 6ft, so that I could use 12ft 2x4s and stagger the joints. I wanted strength and longevity. Wooden posts don't hold up due to ground moisture and high winds.

The fence layout/style is board on board. 6ft tall with stainless steel screws for fastening. After several years of peering neighbors and unsocialized dogs, I wanted full privacy.

The gate is a double swing, but more of a 1 3/4" just because of the available space. The 3/4" section will pin into the ground and rarely be used - probably never. The gate fabrication method is a bit unconventional, but the first one hasn't sagged/moved, so in my experience, it works.

Challenges:
1. I worked off a ladder for the side run as the retaining wall is just shy of 4ft.
2. The back corner has a "dog leg" and angles up.
3. I had to work through an existing chain fence for the entire back run.
4. Low temps, rain, snow, mud.

Step 2: Slide Bolt

The bolt is a 23" long section of pressure treated 2x4, which was determined by the layout of the gate and fence boards. The bolt retainers are 5" x 1" sections of aluminum flat stock, which are secured to the framing with stainless steel screws. A 7/8" diameter hole is drilled in the bolt and aligns with the space between two of the inner fence boards [Fig.1-3].
Note: My method was to cut the bolt oversized and drill the hole. The hole on the right side of the gap is the locked position and on the left side is the unlocked position. The final length can be trimmed from each side based on that information.
Note 2: 7/8" works perfectly with 3/4" copper pipe. I didn't have an galvanized pipe that worked with any of my Forstner bits.


Step 3: Opener Mechanism

The bolt hole position was transferred to each side of the outer fence board, two holes drilled, and the middle material cut out with an oscillating tool to create a slot [Fig.1&2]. The pipe gets fixed to the bolt and sticks through the gate. At this point, you could add a cap (copper or wood) and be done, but I like to over complicate everything.
Note: Easiest way to transfer the position is to just insert the 3/4 copper pipe through the 2x4, press it against the fence board, and twist to leave an indentation.

I want the knob/opener to be hidden within what I'm calling a "letter tile," which will make sense 3 steps from now. The fence boards range from 5 1/2" - 5 3/4" wide, so my tiles are going to be 5" square. With the bolt in the locked position, I measured to the center of the pipe, determined the offset, and then drilled a 7/8" hole in the tile. Surprisingly, I nailed the placement on the first attempt.

The last hurdle was concealing/plugging the end of the pipe and by mere coincidence, the letter size I picked worked perfectly. Had it not, I would've just plugged the hole to keep out wasps/hornets.

Proof of concept being successful, it was time to make all the parts.

Step 4: Tiles

For the tiles, I used a pressure treated fence board. $2.18 for a board instead of upwards of $10 for a 2x6.

Knots and cracks were excised using the miter saw, boards ripped to 5" using the table saw, and squared using the small parts crosscut sled [Fig.1-4].

These fence boards are 5/8" thick and while I wanted to maintain that thickness, I also wanted to clean up the faces a bit - smooth them out and eliminate some of the inherent cupping. A few passes through the drum sander did the trick and I only lost 1/32 to 1/16 of material [Fig.5].

Next, I wanted the squares black. Spray paint would work, but I opted for leather dye for no good reason [Fig.6-8].

Step 5: Letters

While the dye dried, I moved onto the letters, which were cut from pressure treated 2x4 offcuts. Slices were ripped using the table saw and then run through the drum sander to eliminate tool marks/chatter and achieve a standardized thickness of 1/4" [Fig.1-3].

Letters were printed, stuck to the boards with spray adhesive [Fig.. 4], and roughly cut out using the bandsaw [Fig.5]. For a few letters, I used a Forstner bit on the drill press to remove material [Fig.6]. For shaping the letters, I used a combination of the oscillating belt/spindle sander and the 1" strip sander [Fig.7-9].

Computer/Software: TextEdit on an iMac
Font: Times [Bold]
Size: 325

Step 6: Letter Tiles

A light chamfer was cut around the face of the tiles, which eliminates the sharp edge and adds a contrast in color [Fig.1&2].

Letters were attached to the tiles with wood glue and pin nails - centered by eye with a tape measure [Fig.3-6]. The corners were marked for screw locations 1/2" in from each edge and drilled using a brad tip bit [Fig.7&8].

Step 7: Letter Tile Pin

The functional letter tile needed to be secured to the cooper pipe in manner that it would be unable to spin and/or accidental pull off. I have yet to find an adhesive that will hold up outside in the elements and under repeated use, so I opted for a mechanical fastener - 1/4" brass round stock.

A pilot hole was drilled in the edge of the block, which intersected the 7/8" through hole. This was then incrementally stepped up to 1/4" with the copper pipe in place [Fig.1&2]. A brass pin was cut on the bandsaw, burrs removed using the disc sander, and tapped into place [Fig.3-5]. The hole is at least 3" deep and fully penetrates the pipe so that it can't spin.

Step 8: Inside Knob

For the inside knob, I used a scrap of 2" dowel. A 7/8" hole was drilled 2" deep into the end to accept the copper pipe [Fig.1]. A smaller countersunk hole was drilled into the side, which will be for pinning the knob in place [Fig.2-3].

Onsite assembly was required for additional measurements. With the letter tile/pipe inserted through the fence board and slide bolt [Fig.4], I was able to drill the location for the slide bolt pin [Fig.5].

Back in the shop, the slide bolt is secured with a 3" exterior deck screw. I want this removable in case I never need to plane down or replace the slide bolt. The pipe was then marked at 1 15/16", bolt removed, and pipe cut to final length [Fig.6&7].

The knob was test fit, pipe drilled for yet another pin ... this time a stainless steel screw since I had one left over from the fence construction, and the assembly mocked up [Fig.8].

Step 9: Varnish

I didn't get pictures, but I did make an attempt at filling the pin nail holes with glue and sawdust. It partial worked, so we'll see if I end up with corrosion staining in a year or two. I also dyed the inside knob with black leather dye.

For a bit of protection, I added a coat of marine varnish. I've used this before on outside decoration and while it does add some longevity, it does not keep wood from "graying out." Probably won't stop corrosion either, but we'll find out.

Unfortunately, it did prompt the dye to bleed into the chamfers here and there.

Once the varnish cured, I cut down 4 screws and super glued them in place on the functional tile.

Step 10: Slide Bolt Assembly

Assembly is quick and easy.

1. Insert the pipe through the fence and slide bolt.
2. Secure the slide bolt to the pipe with the 3" screw [Fig.2]
3. Attach inside knob and secure to the pipe with the stainless steel screw [Fig.3].
4. Step back and admire one's work for 23 seconds.

Step 11: Decorative Sign

The remaining letter tiles were attached to the fence board using a 1" spacer block and 1 1/4" screws.

I did consider running the sign horizontal. The spacing was much wider, but I didn't hate it. In the end, I opted for vertical because I felt it helped locate the gate latch for those in the know. The A was added as an afterthought. It may or may not stay ... I might even add more blocks. I'm undecided.

Overall, it functions extremely well. If fasteners start corroding, I'll just swap them for stainless. If the letters start failing, I'll just remake them using a different material like Azek or acrylic.

The O was intentional. O for Open ... very much on the nose. M was my second choice and would've centered the sign top to bottom, but come on ... it had to be O!

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    25 Comments

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    Reply 22 days ago

    Thank you. Also, wafflebeaver is an amazing username.

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    1alembic
    1alembic

    23 days ago

    Very cool idea!!

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    xantham
    xantham

    23 days ago

    This is quite clever.

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    xantham
    xantham

    Reply 23 days ago

    I guess I should have read that everyone else said the same thing with the whole clever word. . So how about, it's functionally unique.

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    DIXIE58DIXIE
    DIXIE58DIXIE

    27 days ago

    Very clever indeed. However, I must be the dummy here or I have missed the clue completely. Just what the heck does the thing say?

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    Reply 27 days ago

    Weymouth is the town
    MA for Massachusetts

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    DIXIE58DIXIE
    DIXIE58DIXIE

    Reply 27 days ago

    Ahhh. Ok, thank you for clearing that up for me. :). Again, clever idea. I'm looking at the possibility of using it on my own gate. You've got my vote.

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    WendyTrethewey
    WendyTrethewey

    27 days ago

    I love this, so clever and giving me ideas for a future fence and gate I have been planning for.

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    RandyPerson
    RandyPerson

    27 days ago

    Couple comments. I've built several "traditional" slide latches, and they have always had the slide completely enclosed. Yours has no upper stop. Perhaps it's long enough that that is not an issue, but you might consider an upper batten to keep it in place when the unusual happens. Next, you want it to move smoothly in any weather. Try waxing it. Not just rubbing it. Dig out a few of those used Christmas candles, and your heat gun, and work it in. When it's nice and dry, remove the hardware, put it on some old cardboard, and melt those candles over it, then heat the board. Be careful, of course, and best to work outside in case it smokes a bit. It's amazing how much wax dry, warm wood will absorb, and it gets into, not just on, the wood. It both waterproofs (no swelling) and lubricates. Mine are located in a severe marine climate, and still work smoothly after years of weather.

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    Reply 27 days ago

    It doesn't need an upper stop because the copper pipe runs through the fence via the slot and there is no slop in that fit.
    Good info on the candle wax. The slide bolt on the other gate has been running well for 9 months thus far - through the New England winter and 1 mile from the ocean. I expected some swelling/twisting/or warping, but it's actually shrunk a bit as the PT dried out.

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    Justlearning4now
    Justlearning4now

    4 weeks ago

    Hello, I think it looks very clever but it would be clearer to me if you had a very short video showing the locking and unlocking of the gate but I’m guessing you don’t want that info spreading around right?

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    Best Answer 4 weeks ago

    It comes down to not having the free time to film, process, upload, and post a video.
    It's just a standard slide bolt on the interior of the fence [Step 10], but the knob extends through the fence to the exterior [Step 1 & 11].

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    CrLz
    CrLz

    4 weeks ago on Step 11

    Clever and well done!

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    chuckstake
    chuckstake

    4 weeks ago

    nice keep the a it is a nice touch

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    Reply 4 weeks ago

    I appreciate that feedback.

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    ElectroFrank
    ElectroFrank

    4 weeks ago

    Thinks: Increase security by requiring the tile below to be slid downward first, to allow the bolt tile to move ?
    (And of course, this principle could be continued . . . )

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    memestra
    memestra

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    Would be neat, but could make one-handed operation difficult if carrying something. In that case though, I'd go with the tile above being needed to be slid up to unlatch the "O". Then you're relying on the Ever-so-dependent gravity to hold it at the default position instead of spring return.

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    Reply 4 weeks ago

    Solid observation. Spring return would create more problems with binding, etc. Also, in this setting, the tile below isn't possible because of the horizontal framing of the fence/gate, upon which the slide bolt rides.

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    Reply 4 weeks ago

    Cool design idea, but not necessary for this suburban setting where every other gate has a visible and accessible hasp/latch.