Crooked Garden Gate

(upbeat music) – So today we’ve got a
really special treat for you. We got this guy. – Hello!
– Matt Cremona! He’s in my shop, we’ve been here for six days, it’s like the tail-end, we’re pulling each other’s hair out. We just gotta, we need some space. Anyway, we got together to do some stuff for the guild, but we decided to do a couple of free projects
and collaborate on them, and get as far as we possibly can, so I think the name of
the game with this was get as much as we can done in two days. Right, but of these projects have about two days’ worth of work into them, so they’re not 100% complete
as you see them right now, but I needed a new gate in the backyard, so we built a garden
gate out of white oak, and there’s some
interesting angle problems to fit it and make it look good. So this is a really fun project. We’ll get to that in a second, but, Matt, why don’t you tell us about the bar-stool that you made because that thing is a beauty. – Thank you. So the top of the stool is made from a piece of walnut that’s been power-carved to give it a nice scoop here for your butt. And then for the legs,
we’ve got some cherry that tapers from thick down to thin. And that’s all tied together with this nice little footrest down here that’s turned from a piece of bubinga. – So if you want to check
out Matt’s bar-stool head to his channel, it’s
gonna be a great build. And, we’ve got another
treat, another special guest, my buddy Andy Klein was here to help me with the additional design work. So let’s go check out the old crappy gate, and see what we can do with it. So Andy’s gonna help me lay out this gate, because unlike things in the shop, where everything is square and you can design everything to be perfect, here in my backyard, we’ve got a fence, or a gate, here, that
is anything but square. It sort of tapers out on both sides, and we have to decide
what the best strategy is to get a gate that actually
doesn’t look stupid. – So, so the problem is, this comes out a full inch and a quarter, so you’d be an inch and a quarter thicker at the top, and that kind of a taper on a small piece would really draw the eye,
so the next option was, leave this flush to the wall. So quarter-inch out on top, and just frame up a perfectly square box, and then trim it. Now you’re gonna have the same problem with the rail on the side of the door. That’s really gonna draw the eye. – If we’re like a
quarter-inch or a half-inch over that length, I think
we could get away with that, inscribing it, but if
we’re gonna be taking an inch and a quarter
off of those verticals, that’s gonna be really, really obvious. It’s gonna look weird. – So, now, the current plan, is to start with this side vertical piece, have it flush against the
side and constant thickness, so that it’s out of plumb, and then just take the top and bottom
rails, put them in place, scribe a line with that funny angle, and sneak up on it on the miter saw, so that we actually
have something framed up that matches on the
sides, constant thickness, and compensates for those funny angles. – And this is kind of a,
Who cares what the angle is? Just make it fit, and make it work. As far as these horizontal pieces, we’re not even going for level because the ground isn’t level, so it’s most important
that it just looks level, and looks parallel to the ground. So this is gonna be a wacky door. Like, if you put this door anywhere else, it’s gonna look really stupid. But here, we’re gonna create
the illusion of a square door. Alright, so we just gotta
do some rough layout, pick the best boards we can, we’ve got some white oak in there,
so we’ll get cutting. We’ll start by prepping the
stock for the door stiles. These are going to be really thick, so each one will require two
pieces of a quarter stock. For something like a garden gate, you’ll want to use a waterproof
glue like Titebond 3. The two stiles can be glued
and clamped at the same time. Once the glue is dry,
the stiles are milled to three and a half inches thick, four inches wide, and 54 inches long. Now we can mill the horizontal rail stock to final thickness at the planer. The top and bottom rails
are six inches wide. The middle rail is four inches wide. The top rail will receive
some decorate curves. I draw the curve I want on a piece of ply, and then cut out the shape. Now I can use the plywood as a template. By using the same template
and just flipping it over to draw on the other side, I
can guarantee perfect symmetry. The shape is cut at the band saw, and refined at the spindle sander. Now with half-inch spacers taped to the existing vertical supports, my buddy Matt Cremona will help me keep the stiles in place
while we scribe the rails. I already have guidelines on my stiles to let me know where the rails should be. A few quick clamps will
hold the pieces in place while we scribe. And now we can repeat that process for the middle and lower rails. All we need to do now is cut to our lines with the miter saw. And most of them are off from 90. I find it easiest to
get my angle right first while staying away from the line. Once the angle looks good, I can sneak up on the final dimension. The great part about this method is that we don’t even have
to think about the angles. We just have to cut to the line. I’ll be using some big
fat dominoes for this one. Two per joint. As we said previously, dowels are a good alternative to the dominoes
in this application. Even though these angles are
off from 90, it doesn’t matter. The mortises will be cut
perpendicular to the shoulder. The corresponding mortises
are cut in the stiles. To make the final glue-up easier, I’ll pre-glue the tenons into
the mortises on the rails. Now we can cut the decorative profile on the top of the stiles. To accommodate panels, we’ll
need to cut some half-inch grooves, and I’ll use a slot-cutting bit to make the groove on the curved top-rail. For the rest of the grooves, I’ll use a half-inch spiral bit, and an edge guide. The bottom section of the gate
will have a shiplapped panel, so we’ll need a bunch of half-inch boards. At the table saw, we’ll cut a small rabbet at the side of each board, so that they nest together perfectly. Each piece receives a rabbet on each edge, with the
exception of the outer boards. Those receive only one rabbet. Because the stiles are at a slight angle, the outer panel board needs
to have a taper added to it. My panel is a little bit
wider than it needs to be, so after I drop everything in place, during a dry assembly,
I can look at the top, and mark the cut-line that’s
about an eight of an inch short of a half-inch, giving the
panel some room to move. Another dry assembly just to test fit. For the top slats, I decided
that adding more angles would be a good way to
visually disguise the fact that the gate isn’t square. And the only way I could wrap my brain around this was to make some cardboard templates. Once I have the shapes I like, I can start to cut out the slats. With the slats in place, you can see how the angles make it impossible to tell that we’re off at all. So now I can mark the location of each slat on the rails. To scribe the top to length, I drop each slat in its position behind the rail, and then
scribe it at the top. And to account for the
groove in the top rail, the actual cut-line will be a
half-inch up from that point. I’ll install the slats and
clamp the gate securely. And now it’s time for a little trickery. Cutting mortis and tenon
joints for these slats would’ve been a real pain, especially in that curved top. So I’ll cut some scrap stock to fit perfectly in the empty
spaces between the slats. Each piece is custom fit, giving each slat a little bit of room to move. Yeah, it’s tedious, but
it’s actually easier than cutting all those mortises. For the top rail, we’ll first need to establish a vertical
straight line on our slats. If we don’t do this, the slats will be stuck in the top
rail, due to the wedge shape. And I still need to remove them, after the filler strips are installed. Once the filler strips are dry, we need to flush them to the surface. This is easy enough on the mid-rail. As you can see, if you
get a nice grain match, the filler strips are
almost impossible to see. For the top rail, I skew the block plane to get as much of the bulk as possible, and then finish it off with some sanding. Now I’m going to add another detail that I hope helps this
gate last even longer. I’m going to bevel the outside edges on both sides to help
promote water run-off. It’s slight, and I don’t even know if it will make a difference, but it seems like a good idea in theory. The same treatment is done to the bottom rail. Another Hail Mary idea is to drill some holes in the bottom rail. No matter what I do, water is likely to get into the bottom groove. I’m hoping that by drilling the holes all the way through the bottom rail, it’ll not only give water a way to escape, but it’ll also provide
a little air exchange to help dry trapped moisture. The shiplapped panel will likely develop gaps as the boards expand and contract over the seasons. A light chamfer on the ends helps makes the gaps less noticeable. Any exposed edges receive
an eighth-inch round-over. Now all my parts are sanded thoroughly in preparation for the finish. So, I’ve got Matt here to
talk a little about finishes with us, because he recently
did a farmhouse table last year, and it sits outside in the Minnesota winter and snow and has been beaten up, and
it seems to be doing okay. So, I mean, there’s lots
of different finishes. I’ve got just a small sampling
of things you could use on an outdoor project, but what did you wind up doing, and how did it hold up? – Sure. So I ended up using the CPES, which is this stuff here. It’s basically a penetrating epoxy. A really thin epoxy. It’s almost like the consistency of water, so it gets sucked in really deep, hardens and then solidifies the fibers of the wood a little more, which also provides a good base for a top-coat. So a top-coat that I
used was Epifanes gloss. It’s five coats of that, and then I put two coats of the matte top-coat on top of that, and that’s
gonna knock down that gloss, because otherwise, it’s
just like, it’s too much. – Super shiny.
– It’s so shiny. – Yeah, light hits it, it’ll blind you. – Yeah, yeah. They say to put two coats on because if you put one coat on, you’re gonna miss spots because
it all looks wet anyway. – You see all the holidays. – So the second coat is just
to make sure you get it all. – Yeah, okay. – But the tables holding up really well. It looks exactly the same as
it did the day I finished it. – Great. – A year ago. It’s been through a whole summer and a whole winter in Minnesota, so those are pretty, they’re
pretty good extremes. – Yeah, and that sounds
exactly like what I need to do, because I do not want to have to re-finish this gate a year from now. This is not the kind of project that would be fun to re-finish, so, alright! Let’s go slap on some finish! I usually don’t stain my projects, especially outdoor projects,
but in order to match the rest of the woodwork in the backyard, I do need to add a little bit of color. I’m using Thompson’s Timber Oil, which is an oil-based stain that contains some pigments and UV inhibitors. Application is simple, just brush it on, and wipe off the excess. Everything but the mortis and tenon joints receives a nice coating. I’ll let that dry for 24 hours. CPES is a two-part epoxy that you mix in a one-to-one ratio. As you can see, this stuff is much
thinner than most epoxies, which is what allows it to
absorb deep into the wood. By the way, you must wear a respirator when you use this stuff,
because the fumes are powerful! CPES applies like any other film finish so I like to use a brush to apply it. The manufacturer recommends two coats because the first one
usually absorbs so quickly. But because I have some oil
stained on the surface already, I’m gonna do just one coat. The key with this stuff, is to apply the varnish coat
before the epoxy is fully cured, which will literally
glue the varnish to the wood. So I’ll start by diluting the Epifanes about 50% with mineral spirits. Each subsequent coat gets less dilute, until I finally add the last
coat or two at full strength. I then follow up with two
coats of the matte product. In video, this all goes by quickly, but in reality, with only
one coat of finish per day, and of course, sanding between coats, you’re looking at about seven to 10 days of a time investment. Now we can think about installation. – And also today, I’m making a stop sign. That’s a triangle. Da-ad! – Key! – [Marc] (laughing) Keys! Now before I can assemble the gate, I need to make sure I know
where my hinges are going. So it’s a whole lot easier to do this when I just have a single post instead of the entire gate,
so I’ve just got a shim on the bottom, keeping the
door at the correct height, and then of course the shims on the side, keeping it at the correct distance from this vertical support post. And I’ve got my new hinges here, so all I really need to do
is, pick where I want these hinges to lay out, put
them in place, and then mark with a pencil so we know exactly where we’re going to drill. So my top hinge, I’ve got some choices here. I could put it up here. I could put it down a
little bit, but my top rail is gonna go here, and I really
just, ah, I don’t really want this to be this high. It’s too close to the top. So I’ll put it just under
the location of the top rail. I’ll do the same thing
for the lower hinge, and once again, it doesn’t
need to be right where that bottom rail is, I could
bring it up just a little bit, and I’ll mark those locations. To make the hinge
connections even stronger, I’m increasing the size
of the holes slightly to accommodate 5/16ths inch bolts. Instead of lag bolts, I’m
opting for threaded holes made with Wood Whisperer Thread Taps. Simply pre-drill at each hole location with the appropriately sized bit. And then cut the threads with the tap. With holes this deep,
it’s absolutely critical that you get all of the
dust out of the holes, or it will prevent the bolt
from going to full depth. Now we can assemble. I’m using epoxy since I need as much working time as I can get. I’ll start by attaching the
lower rail to one stile. The shiplap goes in without glue. Now for the middle rail. Getting the top rail and slats installed was a bit of a dance, but
that’s why I used epoxy. To help prevent denting, I taped some batting material to the clamps. Since the bolt heads are kind of ugly, I’ll spray paint them black
before attaching the hinges. With some wax on the
threads, I use a drill to slowly drive the bolts home. You do have to be careful not to strip out the threads, so when the
bolt stops, you stop. That’s 15 bolts going two
inches deep into white oak. Those hinges aren’t going anywhere. Back outside, I’ll use the
lag bolts for the hinge connection, so I’ll just
pre-drill for those. I weighed the gate, and it’s coming in at a solid 100 pounds. Good thing I ate my pasta today. I’ll use a piece of ply on
the patio to keep the gate at the proper height and line
up my hinges with my holes. Now I can drive the lags. Well, it worked. I got it in. I’m kind of surprised. It’s a very heavy gate,
but with three hinges, and the capacity of each
hinge, I have more than enough to hold this thing in place. The thing I know I’m going to have to
replace at some point here, is this support board that’s
connected to the wall. It is made from a soft wood species, and I think over time, it’s
just going to cause the door to sag, so it won’t be sag
coming from the hinges, it’ll be this thing pulling
away, or sort of stretching away from the wall. So this will be a future upgrade. I still need to put a handle on here and connect the latch system,
but for now this thing swings freely and it feels secure. It certainly looks good, and this is mission accomplished. Now, the real question is, from that side, can we tell that it’s a crooked gate? I don’t know, let’s take a look. Well, I guess, if you’re looking for it, you can certainly find the
angle, but if you’re not, I don’t think you’re
really gonna notice it. The eye is really gonna
see the curve at the top. It’s gonna see the angle
of these panels here. I think there’s enough
distraction for the eye that you’re not even gonna
notice that angle on the side there, so a pretty cool idea
that Andy came up with, and I think it works for this space. So other than replacing this
piece here, and adding a little bit more hardware, I’d say we’re done. Pretty good color match. Very heavy gate. I don’t recommend building stuff out of square, normally,
but in this case, it works. So thanks for watching everybody. Hope you enjoyed this project. We’ll see you later.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *