Concealed Gate and Pivoting Slide Bolt

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Introduction: Concealed Gate and Pivoting 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…

In March of 2018, a Nor'easter persuaded a large section of an even larger tree to drop a flying elbow onto my fence ... it was a slobber-knocker. Since that storm also threw my roof shingles around the neighborhood like a game of 52 pick up, which in turn opened the literal floodgates for water intrusion, I had quite a mess on my hands.

After cleaning up all the water damage and calling in the insurance claim, I borrowed a chainsaw and got to work in the yard. The tree was limbed, bucked, and given to a friend for future fire pit enjoyment. Parts of the fence were already in need of repair (loose and/or rotten off posts, insect damage, squirrel damage, algae), so I took the opportunity to just cut it all down. It ended up in a dumpster with the old roof a few months later.

Putting up a new fence was low priority since I was busy with a full gut job of the second floor bathroom and hall closet, as well as ceiling repairs in the living room. Adjusters, electrician, plumber, permits, inspectors, supplemental claims, multiple insurance battles - it was a nightmare.

During that span of time, the neighbors got impatient and put up their own fence, which was great for me. The back and other side are on hold until I get a retaining wall replaced, but while I wait for that ... I decided to close in the ground zero side of the yard.

This Instructable is primarily focused on the concealed gate mechanism, so I'll try to quickly overview the actual fence building. I also didn't take many pictures of that process because it's just a basic fence.

Supplies

2 3/8" galvanized posts
2 3/8" galvanized wood posts adapters
Galvanized
Galvanized screws
Pressure treated 2x4 boards
Pressure treated fence pickets

Step 1: Posts, Brackets, and Boards

The former fence was cedar and due to the climate in my area, was rotting out after 10 years. I decided to change tactics and go with galvanized posts and brackets with pressure treated wood. Some of the pickets need replacing down the road and corrosion will become a factor, but the posts will probably out last me.

I'm close to an esker ridge, which means tons of rocks. An auger on a skid steer might do it, but I don't have one, so I just dug the holes over the course of a week - pry bar, shovel, and post hole digger, sweat, minimal tears.

Posts were set with concrete, brackets bolted on, and 2x4 boards attached with lag screws. I didn't worry about leveling the post tops because it was easier to run them long and cut them off with a portaband - except that one near the house ... ran a bit short on that fella.

Step 2: Gate

There are adjustable metal gate kits on the market, but I decided to make one using readily available parts from the big box store. I was planning on welding the frame, but aluminum corner brackets made the job much easier - and arguably more accurate considering I haven't welded in many years.

The frame was attached to the post with hinges and easily adjusted until it sat flush against the horizontal boards. This dry fit in turn reveals the six locations for bolts, which was a multi-step process.
1. 5/16" holes drilled through the galvanized pipe.
2. Those hole locations marked on the inside face boards.
3. Pilot hole drilled through the boards.
4. 3/4" holes drilled on the outside faces of the boards - deep enough for a washer, split washer, and nut.
5. 5/16" hole drilled on the inside faces of the boards.

Why the heck do I do it this way? Few reasons.
1. If you just drill through with a 5/16" from one side, you're gonna get blowout. I don't like blow out. I always drill from both sides in order to have a clean face/surface.
2. Trying to enlarge a 5/16" hole to 3/4" with a Forstner bit is rather difficult. It can be done with a drill guide, but that's just more extra steps.
3. I'm insane and like to punish myself.

5/16" carriage bolt was inserted through the pipe and through the wood. Washer, split washer, nut, tighten .. done.

All that remained was to cut the horizontals to free the gate. I did this by clamping a DIY saw track to the fence and making the cut with a circular saw. I started with the unhinged side, then clamped it shut so it wouldn't move before cutting the hinge side.

To help resist weight and gravity, I did end up adding a third hinge in the middle.

Step 3: Picket Layout

Since I wanted a concealed gate, I had to experiment with a few layouts in order to dial in the board spacing and placement. I ended up with a spacing of 3 1/4" and had to shift the pattern to the left about 3/4" in order to make it work. This layout is what will be the top layer or second layer of a board on board fence pattern.

With the layout determined, I marked the locations, removed all the boards, and attached the first layer boards with brads and a nail gun. The top layer boards were clamped in place, screw locations marked, pilot holes drilled, and attached with stainless steel screws.

Hinge side: A top layer board on the gate overhangs to the left and slips over the bottom layer board when closed. The bottom layer board is slightly chamfered for clearance [Fig. 4].
Latch side: A top layer board overhangs the fixed fence to the left and the bottom layer board on the gate nests behind it [Fig. 5].

And of course I made jigs [from left to right] [Fig. 6]
Spacer/height gauge: Width of 3 1/4" for board spacing and height of 6" to easily keep the front of the fence level - just clamp it to the top of the board and it registers with the top horizontal 2x4.
Screw centering jig: The small top plate sits on top of a horizontal 2x4 and the long board is 1 3/4" wide, which centers your mark/screw location within said 2x4.
Note: You could just brad nail all the boards and then run a chalk line for the screws, but the galvanized brads corrode over time and cause staining. You could also shoot stainless nails and not worry about an OCD straight line, but I wanted to be able to easily replace boards as necessary and I wanted to straight line.
Offset jig: Just a scrap board with a rabbit to mark the screw location 9/16" in from the edge of a board. The board overlap amount is 1 1/8", so this centers the screw within that overlap.

Step 4: Running Boards

The side of the fence took far less time and fiddling due to no gate, but it wasn't without annoyances.

The land elevation slopes and I wanted my fence to seamlessly flow into the neighbor's existing fence. I decided the quickest and easiest way to achieve this was clamp all of the bottom layer boards upside down and run a chalk line [Fig. 1-2]. Once marked, I just took them down a few at a time, cut them with my small DIY saw track, and tacked them back in place with brad nails [Fig. 3]

Same upside down marking method for the top layer boards - then cut to length, marked, pilot drilled, and attached with stainless screws.

Three boards did have to be cut.
1. I ripped the dog ear off the corner top layer board, so that it would pair up with the front face [Fig. 4].
2. The last top layer board had to be ripped to fit against the neighbor's fence [Fig. 5].
3. One board bottom had to be scribed to fit around the neighbor's short retaining wall. I used the bandsaw to make the cut [Fig. 6-7].

On to the fun part ... finally.

Step 5: Latch Knob

The gate latch mechanism is going to need a knob/handle and that's where I started. I did briefly consider using a billards 8 ball ($6 on amazon), but the fun would run out of that quickly, so I just made one.

It's a 2 1/2" length of 2" diameter poplar dowel stock [Fig. 1]. A 1" hole was drilled down the center to a depth of 2" for the EMT pipe [Fig. 2]. A 1/4" hole was drilled through the diameter for what will be a brass retention pin [Fig. 3-4].

Step 6: Latch Pole

The latch pole is galvanized EMT. It needs two holes on the same line, so I ran a piece of tape and then put the pipe and a pen on a flat table to strike that line [Fig. 1].

Hole location will depend on the fence framing and once I had them marked, I drilled pilot holes with a twist bit [Fig. 2]. These were then widened to 3/8" using a step bit in order to accept 5/16" bolts [Fig. 3].

Hole location for the knob pin were marked with a punch and drilled to 1/4" [Fig. 3-4]. My alignment wasn't dead on, so inserting the pin was a bit of a struggle. Once in place, I added superglue around the brass and EMT. I also decided having the bottom of the pipe open was an invitation for wasps, so I plugged it with a quickly reduced section of dowel and superglue [Fig. 5].

The brass pin, any burs, and bottom plug, were sanded flush using the oscillating belt sander.

The wooden components were finished with two coats of marine varnish, so we'll see how they hold up in the elements.

Step 7: Deadbolt

The deadbolt is a 19 1/2" length of 2x4 and the hole location was marked in place instead of measured because it needs to land in the center of a fence picket - also centered on the width of the 2x4.
Note: I did chamfer the leading edge of this board so that it doesn't bind against the gate during operation.

The back face of this hole was drilled using a 3/4" Forstner bit to a depth necessary for one washer and two nuts. The rest of the depth was drilled with a pilot bit so the hole could be located from the other side. The front face was then drilled using a 1/2" Forstner bit and a length of PEX was cut to length for this smaller hole section [Fig. 1-2].

Lastly, the 5/16" carriage bolts need modifications. The square section was rounded using the 1" belt sander, and they were cut to length using the angle grinder [Fig. 3-4].

Assembly
1. Insert PEX bushing into the 1/2" hole.
2. Carriage bolt through the EMT and through the bushing.
3. Flip the assembly over and slide the washer over the bolt in the 3/4" hole.
4. Thread on the first nut till it seems just a bit too loose.
5. Thread on the second nut until it hits the first and then tighten it with a socket wrench.
Note: It might take a few tries to get the jam nut in a place where the pipe can swivel without binding, but not be loosey goosey,

Step 8: Pivot Point

The pivot point is located in the center of the two 2x4 horizontal board and centered within a top layer picket. The picket was removed so that the dual diameter hole could be drilled. Same process as with the deadbolt, but this time with a hand drill and outside on the actual fence - bushing, bolt, washer, jam nuts .. same deal.

Step 9: Deadbolt Retainer

A test run revealed that Ia few shortcomings, which could easily be resolved.

Issue #1
If allowed, the deadbolt will move away from the fence when being unlocked. That's wasted movement and unwanted stress on the pivot bolt. The keep the board moving in the single desired path, I made a retention strip using 1/8" aluminum flat stock.

It's 5" long x 1" wide, corners rounded on the top end, and two holes drilled on the bottom end for #10 x 1" stainless screws (what I had on hand). It could be longer, but the stock I had was reclaimed and I had to work around some existing holes.

Issue #2
The deadbolt could open further than necessary and lacked any tactile feedback when unlocking from outside the fence. A simple stop would solve both issues.

The stop is a #8 x 2" stainless screw and a 1" length of sprinkler tube. With the deadbolt in the open position, I marked the opposite end, drilled a pilot hole, and drove in the screw/stop.

Step 10: Assembled

The mechanism works shockingly well. Reaching over the fence and finding the knob takes a bit of practice, but the muscle memory sets in quickly.

Because of where the pivot point ended up, it takes very little travel to lock and unlock, which is nice. I did mock up a version with the pivot point being in the board directly under the deadbolt, but the travel of the knob ended up being 3 boards - inconvenient at best.

I have no idea how this will hold up in the elements, but I'll find out. I'm sure it will freeze up in the winter, but the entire fence and gate will also be blocked with snow drifts and historically, I've never used this gate in the winter. If the EMT pole starts to rust, I can grind and paint it - maybe powder coat even.
If the deadbolt swells, I can run it through the thickness planer.
If the wooden knob cracks or breaks or gets loose, I can always replaced it ... that would be the second opportunity for a sweet billiards 8 ball.

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    32 Comments

    0
    doing2much
    doing2much

    11 months ago

    Love it! With the rate of crime increasing everywhere, this could be a good foil for those uninvited guests who have taken it upon themselves to open gates and check out the 'freebies' in people's backyards! Of course, one can always lock the gate but outdoor locks come with their own problems...

    I also like the idea of using metal posts for durability. We are redoing a common fence in the backyard and one of the quotes we got was for metal posts. Sadly, our neighbor chose another bidder because he wants 4x6 posts, which we are also fine with.

    0
    Epimethius
    Epimethius

    1 year ago on Step 8

    The introduction was wonderful, and the language was so New England! Yep, we are pretty much not going to open a swing-gate after a winter storm. And construction jigs are our friends. The hidden reach-over-the-gate latch mechanism is the key new info for me, I can see it being adapted to many different situations - pivot, push, pull, whatever skills one has.

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    Reply 11 months ago

    I'm a transplant from Iowa with time spend in TN, but I have certainly picked up some of the New England terminology. I tend to mix all three when I actually speak - it's a bit of a mess.

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    Metaloguru
    Metaloguru

    Tip 1 year ago

    Couple of things that would have made the job a lot easier and safer
    1. You can rent a small 2-man handheld gas powered post pounder for steel posts. It makes the job so simple and extremely sturdy. No digging, no concrete, and it takes less than 5 minutes to put in a standard steel post. Normally used for chain link fences, but easily adapted for wood or vinyl fencing. My son and I put in well over 100 feet of vinyl fence in a single day! And it didn't even use a full quart of fuel...
    2. I'm glad you didn't try to weld the gate. Welding galvanized metal produces toxic gasses which can put you in the hospital very quickly. Don't ever weld Galvanized metal unless you have proper respirator and do it outside!

    08pdh005-pd52cc-02_03a.jpg
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    Reply 1 year ago

    That pounder is pretty sweet! Will it pound a steel post through rocks the size of candle pin bowling balls and larger? This land is on a glacial slide, so it's full of rock. Sometimes you hit a boulder and that becomes the bottom of the footing. I also needed to remove concrete from two of the old hole locations.

    Welding galvanized - good safety info for those not knowledgeable.

    0
    Metaloguru
    Metaloguru

    Reply 1 year ago

    Like any method of installing posts, rocks are going to throw a wrench in the works. Generally, it will not go through any rocks at all, you would have to relocate the post or dig the hole by hand. Might be ok in gravel. I have no idea what a "candle pin bowling ball" is, but a rock of any size will stop it, if it's larger than your fist it will probably not go through but may deflect around.

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    Reply 1 year ago

    Good info. Tons of rocks here - egg sized, softball/grapefruit sized, pumpkins. In some of the pics you can see the collection from these 7 holes sitting next to the house foundation. Place was built in 1928 and was the second house in the neighborhood, so no telling what's buried.

    0
    kenbob
    kenbob

    1 year ago on Step 10

    Thanks for sharing! I love seeing simple reliable solutions to problems that will work for the life of the install. And it looks good too!

    0
    diycrzy
    diycrzy

    Reply 1 year ago

    Genius love that really well laid out steps

    0
    RandyPerson
    RandyPerson

    1 year ago

    Here on the wet side of Washington State, I can lose a pressure treated post in 5 years to ground-level rot. After pulling out a hedge, and needing to build fence sections between nice shrubs, I wanted permanency. I haunted a local recycler, collecting used galvanized schedule 40 water pipe from 1 1/4 to 2 inch diameter. These were set in concrete, with the long 2x supports, salvaged from a deck someone tore down, simply bolted on, using through holes drilled into the pipes. Super solid, but we wanted a wood look. I just used some cheap fence boards to build open, 3-sided boxes to wrap the pipes. Simple butt joints, and a little DAP 230 caulk as glue/sealer. Before the fencing was added (cedar grape stakes here), the wraps were fastened by screwing through the 2x material with 3" deck screws. Those screws are hidden by the fencing. Before installing, I treated the wraps with water repellent, as well as the caps I cut for their tops. Photos are current, with wood weathered silver and everything holding up great. The combo of no rot and wood look satisfies both myself and the boss.

    P1010268.JPGP1010269.JPGP1010270.JPG
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    Reply 1 year ago

    That's a good looking fence.

    0
    RandyPerson
    RandyPerson

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks, Liam and Bales. There is still just about one place where a couple old guys find splittable old cedar logs, and they split and re-saw these at their place way out in the woods. You see in the middle photo how the ends of the stakes wander different directions. One secret to the overall appearance is the middle long board. Even when the new stakes had a bow, three nails let me install them pretty straight, and they were not able to warp much as they finished drying. If new 1x6 fence boards have a lot of knots, that might be a good idea even for that material. At my old retired age, I don't want to have to do anything over again that I can prevent.

    0
    Liam McM
    Liam McM

    Reply 1 year ago

    That is a nice system 👍

    0
    mogwai101
    mogwai101

    1 year ago

    Hello
    I would suggest a couple of modifications.
    On photo 3 you see the gate post with the hinges and the post to the rights. I would put a clip at the top of the post with the hinges and similarly on the bottom of the post on the right and then join them with a cable and turn buckle. This will reduce any tendency for the post to rotate and make the gate pinch on the left hand side. You can adjust the tension on the turnbuckle as the seasons vary to keep the post vertical.
    I would also ad come cross bracing to the gate itsslf. There is some tolerance in the fitting you have used and in time they are likely to allow the gate to get out of square. With some welding of diagonal bracing in the gate that tendency would be overcome.
    I add a pic marked up as I am suggesting.
    Look a good job. Well done.
    C

    gate.png
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    Reply 1 year ago

    Great suggestions. I'm going to see what it does (curiosity) and add bracing down the line if necessary.

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    mogwai101
    mogwai101

    Reply 1 year ago

    Let me see the next gen when it is done.
    C

    0
    justin_the_jack
    justin_the_jack

    1 year ago

    Looks like a great method to reduce rot! Give us an update in 5 years, please.

    0
    patrick94gsr
    patrick94gsr

    1 year ago

    I've never seen a wood privacy fence with metal posts and gate frame. Is that a northern/New England thing? Here in the south everyone just sets 4x4 posts into the ground, sometimes with and sometimes without concrete, and then attaches the rails and pickets and that's it. And those posts definitely rot out over the years.

    0
    Liam McM
    Liam McM

    Reply 1 year ago

    I live in Alaska, and I've seen both combinations, I think some people just like the wood on wood look, but the poles will deffinatly last longer. Most failures up here are caused to poor anchoring and heaving ground due to temperature and moisture/frost.

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    Reply 1 year ago

    I just looked up frost depths.
    Massachusetts = 32 inches
    Alaska = 100 inches
    Can you imagine digging those footings!!! :)