Building a Fence Gate




Introduction: Building a Fence Gate

About: I am who I am they say, though I know the others really know different.

I provide a basic overview of building a wooden gate for a privacy fence.

Step 1: Materials Needed

This ible will be somewhat generalized due to everyone's varied preferences in size and material. Generally speaking though, it's safe to assume you'll need the following to accomplish this.

24" level (or larger)
Drill w/bits
Tape measure
Circular saw
Marking pencil
ratchet w/socket for bolts

Metal hardware

I used pressure treated 2x4x10 for the framework and 6 ft dog eared fence planking. After picking out the hardware you want to use, don't forget to count how every hole. It turned out I would need 48 bolts to get the job done. Also, make sure the bolts aren't going to be longer than the thickness of your 2x4.

Step 2: Laying It Out

My gate threshold is 3 ft and I want to make sure that I closely match the gaps used in the rest of the fence. So lay out the boards on the ground and get an idea of where you can fudge things. It turned out, I could perfectly fit 7 planks using the same sized gap.

I took my frame measurements from the existing fence section. Measure from the bottom of the upper horizontal 2x3 to the upper side of the bottom horizontal 2x4. (I know, it's confusing). But once you understand what I'm talking about, you'll prevent some incorrect cutting.

Step 3: Putting It Together

After you've made your cuts, lay it all out and check your measurements. Also lay the hardware out where it's supposed to go.

Once everything checks out and the frame is squared, mark your holes for the L brackets making sure the framework doesn't get too jarred out of alignment. Take note as to how square your brackets are. They might need a little bending. I went with some pretty hefty hardware, so it went fairly smooth for me.

Using a drill bit roughly smaller than the barrel width of the bolt, drill your holes. You want the screw to bite into the the wood, but not split it. Using lag bolts this size would definitely split your wood.

Once all my drilling was done, the fun part came. I didn't have a driver attachment for the hex head, so I had to use the good ole socket wrench for 48 bolts. Make sure you do a little at a time to ensue squareness before final tightening.

Step 4: Hanging the Gate

This might be a little tricky if you do this alone like I did. There's always a way to go about something though if you put your mind to it.

First, is to simply position the gate as close to where it's supposed to go so you can eyeball it. Look at it's squareness or take note of any potential problems that might hinder the gates operation. Now look at how you're going to be able to hold it in place while you actually attach the hardware.

What I've done in the 1st photo is set a temp nail in one of my 4x4 posts to keep the gate from falling forward through the opening. So far so good.

Next, I used 2x4's on the ground in a position so as to leverage the gate at it's proper height.

My final nifty trick was to use a single shim to go between the gate's opening and 4x4 post. A gate like this is pretty heavy and will tend to lean towards the opposite side of the hinges. Therefore, you want to make sure there will be some clearance for the gate to smoothly open.

While I didn't take a picture during the process of installing the header, now is a good time do so, if your gate is going to require one. The 4x4 post, while strongly set in concrete, is still not enough to keep it upright and true without some sort of additional support. Since my GF doesn't want me to build fencing on that side, I explained my woes to her and she agreed to installing the header. The header is the support running along the top .

Make sure your tops are level and equidistant to the measurements taken at the bottom.

Step 5: Attaching the Hinges

Make sure you're still level. You don't want the gate to swing one way or the other all the time, it should be nicely balanced. Then again, if you didn't get your posts plumb, then you'll have some issues.

Now take note of where the top, middle and bottom horizontals meet the post on the hinge side and mark the upper and lower limits of each 2x4.

Now set the gate aside and remove the temporary nail. I know...all that work....Now find a scrap of 2x4 about a foot long or so and the first hinge.

Place the scrap against the face of the post and then the hinge between the markings. This will ensure your brackets will be plumb to the length of the post and promote good alignment. Do this with all three brackets. Once you've marked all the holes, drill them.

NOTE: It's a good idea to keep using the scrap 2x4 even while ratcheting down the bolts.

Once that is accomplished, get the gate back into an aligned position, don't forget the shim.
Now mark your next set of holes for the other side of the hinges, drill your holes and ratchet the lag screws as well.

All the while keep checking on aligments and finally see how she swings.

Step 6: Finishing Up

Now get those planks on, and attach whatever kinda hardware you'd like to use to keep it shut.

The header I have on there right now is a temporary one being just a 2x4 across the top. I plan to create a nice one soon. Cheers!

2 People Made This Project!


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20 Discussions


1 year ago

Which way does the gate swing open with that hinge configuration?

We need to put up a short fence for dogs and the debate is whether to run the fence first or the gate. I thought the gate should be set first and the fence run from it but my husband thinks the fence should be up first. Suggestions?

1 reply

I know this is two years late but I'm posting this so people searching can obtain information from my replay.

My father owned a custom fence company for over 30 years. I grew up working with my hands building fence. When it comes to the order in which you build, start with the fence first. We always set the gate posts and corner posts with concrete so over time the fence doesn't drift and move out of alignment. Always dig below the frost line and bell out the bottom of the post holes so the concrete has a hard time being pushed out by ice if it does get super cold. Once the fence is built there should of been enough time for the concrete to set. The gate posts should have no problems supporting the weight of the gate now. Of you opt not to use concrete make sure you really compact the dirt around the posts well or the posts will work the hole and become loose.

One more tip. When pouring concrete for the posts stop 6 inches from the top of the hole and fill with dirt. This hides the concrete and looks clean.

I am sure you can still buy handbook with all info you need on woodprix. Just google it.

Looks very solid.
I am completely new to this.
Am going to try this design with my son.
Thanks for all of the info.

good info, and a solid gate. I checked it out and would do something similar, except> save some money on the hardware, use 4 L Brackets only in the corners, its easier for a novice to square up the gate utilizing the L's. The middle brace can be toe nailed in using # 8 x 2 1/2 " deck screws....will be plenty solid. Only thing I did not see in your instructions and prob the most critical is, check the dimension from corner to corner....this really tells you how square this frame is. Ifs its more than a half an need to adjust it. Square is good! Hang the frame and check for clearance before adding pickets...once its in place....clearance is good....go back and place the pickets. You might want to lay them out...left to right and right to left...depending on the hinge side, try to get things even. Worst case senario, you have to play with the picket spacing or cut a picket. Since you are building the fence and the control the opening and the think ahead. Hope this helps someone...questions just email me at

Bought all the equipment then built the best gate by eye it's best to use the eye if you are like me 27 years being a butcher helped but wood lived too

Has anyone used the Peak Instagate Gate kit? I need your help because I purchased this product. Its called the Peak Instagate Gate Kit. After reading the installation instructions, it says that the fence boards must be installed on the side where the door opens. Is there any reason why? Maybe it has something to do with load bearing on the hinges? Because my situation is, my door will open inwards but I will install the boards on the outer side. How did you install yours? Will there be any problem if i install the boards opposite where the door opens? Thanks


You can get it at Home Depot

Build a sag-free gate frame in 20 minutes! Works with gate openings of 27" to 72" W with no height restrictions. Fits various lumber sizes (2x4’s, 2x6’s, etc.) and can be used for left- or right-swinging gate.

See the attached picture of the display at Depot.

1 reply

Have you used this product? I need your help because I purchased this product. Its called the Peak Instagate Gate Kit. After reading the installation instructions, it says that the fence boards must be installed on the side where the door opens. Is there any reason why? Because my situation is, my door will open inwards but I will install the boards on the outer side. How did you install yours? Will there be any problem if i install the boards opposite where the door opens? If there is anyone else who used this product, please advise also. Thanks.

Nice Job! Thanks for the posting. I will be installing a gate for my mother. Unknown neighbor kids keep jumping her fence and cruising through her yard. Your gate looks very solid.

is that shed you workshop ill reall like to have ashed workshop one day

It would be much easier and cheaper to just put a diagonal piece of wood between corners rather than metal brackets. Still, it looks a strong sturdy gate

On all the advice for cross braces: There's a specific way to do that too. You need a solid diagonal (compressive strength) from the bottom of the hinge side to the top of the latch side. Then you need a cable brace with a turnbuckle (tension strength) from the top of the hinge side to the bottom of the latch side. Don't bother gluing it, or adjusting your nailing/screwing points for the slats, those will all eventually fail. As long as you use a turnbuckle for the cable even if it does sag over time you can just tighten it.


Nice looking gate- I'd second Karel's suggestion regarding the addition of cross supports- Even with the corner bracing, when the wood gets wet it will get heavy and eventually sag- I used to build wood fences and we'd actually build the gate in place with 3 2x3's cut slightly smaller (about 3/8") than the opening held in place temporarily with 2" staples, staple the pickets to the face, and using pickets as the diagonal supports. Attach the hinges and hardware clean everything up- the diagonal pickets, along the bottom if needed- with a chainsaw, pull the staples so it would swing free and it was done. Bigger gates- like for a double drive, on a dumpster enclosure, or something, alot of the time we'd use a frame for a chainlink gate and attach pickets to that

I recently had a lot of fencing done, and the only real mess they made was of a gate quite similar to this -- in which they made almost every mistake that could possibly be made. The sag was so great that the gate wouldn't latch two days later, and by the end of the week the gate had sagged into a complete parallelogram that no longer fit between the gate posts. One of the mistakes they ,made was in not realizing, apparently, that since the "fence boards" on this gate are an integral part of the gate structure (not just a wooden facing), it's vitally important to place the nails in these boards as far APART, as close to the edge of each upright board as possible without risking a split. Personally, when I re-do the thing I'll pre-drill and probably use ga;vanized screws instead of nails, and perhaps even use an adhesive caulk to glue everything into place. (If you do this, you'd better make absolutely sure you have every dimension perfect before you glue-and-screw; fixing mistakes will be extremely difficult) If you have a saggy, badly-built gate there are two quick, cheap fixes, and you might even avoid potential problems by working these into the actual design of the gate. One is, of course, the old "screen door tensioner" -- long rods that are threaded into a central device that pulls the ends together as you turn it. You can keep adjusting, as needed. All hardware store have this. The second, more dramatic fix is the one I chose: you pull the saggy gate back up to its proper shape, usually by placing bricks and little thin pieces of wood under the gate until it's hanging perfectly in its closed position. Then you cut a square sheet of plywood (minimum 1/2") that will cover every 2x4 part of the gate. You then screw it onto the INSIDE of the gate with lots and lots of screws, long enough to go thru the plywood and a goodly distance into the 2x4's. You will probably have to cut little pieces out of the edge of the plywood to allow for hinges & latch.etc. Once I did this, the dreadful gate sagged no more, and doesn't even look all that ugly from the inside. It'll do for the time being, and I like the extra strength of the plywood so well that I'm thinking about incorporating a more decorative piece of plywood into the final gate I build... maybe with decorative cutouts or applied molding. Probably pressure-treated ply would be the best choice, unless you plan on applying some preservative every couple of years.

1 reply

I did forget to mention that I used screws to attach all the fence boards. 2 at top and bottom and 1 in the middle. I've had zero problems thus far with my construction.

Nice. Another way to strengthen the gate, is by inserting one or two diagonal, tight-fitting struts (the lower end of the diagonal should be at the hinges' side). If done tightly enough, the gate will not sag, even without the L-brackets. It's gjommettricks, they tell me.