Intro: 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.
r_anderson_c made it!