No two of these will ever be the same so you have to be open to the nuances of the available wood supply and in the case of the split cedar, open to the way it splits and its resultant shape. The total cost of the project should come in somewhere around 10 or 20 dollars at the most… including hardware.
The first thing needed is some stock that is fairly uniform in girth for the frame of the garden gate. I use beach logs and so will assume that to be the wood that we are dealing with. Depending on the size of the garden gate you may want thicker or thinner pieces. Mine was made out of wood about 2″ in diameter so that is what I set my sights on when I went searching on the beach.
The gate in this case is a saloon style gate with hinges on both sides allowing each side to swing freely in either direction. I selected 2 pieces that were long enough to span the entire width of the gate opening with the idea of cutting it in half when it was complete. In this manner everything stays even and is easier to keep in place while working on the other parts of the gate.
All the joinery was done with a small chain saw and in some cases finished off with an angle grinder with a coarse grit sandpaper on it. You can pretty much toss the tape measure for this as it is hard to measure when the wood is curved and full of knots that get in the way. I just loosely arrange things in the shape they will eventually be and then start scribing and notching piece by piece. The joints are all lap joints….at least that’s what I call them anyway. Laying the two pieces over each other in the way they will sit and then squaring the edges with the grinder and scribing their positions relative to each other will leave a snug joint…we like snug joints. About half the girth of each piece to be joined should be removed in order to leave a fairly even joint with each side remaining flush with the rest of the member.
I glued and doweled the finished joint. It looks better and will never let go. Leaving the dowel extending about 1/4″ leaves an interesting effect if you like.
With the saloon style gate there were 8 joints in all to be done and once done should support itself as the two pieces on the top and bottom are still whole…not yet cut in half to form the individual gates.
Now comes the interesting part. Restricted only by your imagination you can create any kind of design on the face of the gate. I used split red cedar and a half round of yellow cedar to fashion this design. I found a piece of red cedar on the beach that was definitely not straight grained. It split in a very irregular form which I found appealing enough to use on the gate. I used a froe to separate the first flat slab… about an inch thick. Froe in hand I set out to split that piece into four or five somewhat uniformly twisted pieces. If per chance you don’t have a froe….odd concept I admit…then just use an axe or hatchet..the bigger the blade the better.
The orb on the bottom is a six inch thick round of yellow cedar which, using my handy dandy $25.00 folding table with the built in vise, I safely bucked off of a larger round. This in turn was bucked in half on the end grain to form a half round. Wanting an effect of a half moon I softened the square edges with the grinder until there was some resemblance to a half moon.
Attaching each “half moon”, one on each half of the bottom rail at approximately the same spot on each one with a couple of dowels, all that was left was attaching the “rays” of red cedar emanating from the half moon to the gate’s perimeter. This was done by scribing the points of attachment of all of them and making them fit more or less exactly using the angle grinder and then using finishing nails to hold them secure. I actually mortise and tenoned one side of it but found the extra amount of work involved didn’t make any esthetic difference so I gave the nails a go and the effect was actually better but definately not as strong.
Attaching the gate hinges was a piece of cake as both sides of the gate were still attached and so were one manageable unit which was very easy to level up. Eye hooks screwed into the gate- two per side were suspended on metal pivots screwed into the posts on either side of the gate and allowed a wide range of movement. Adjustment of these is very easy as all one has to do is give one more turn to either the pivot or the eyehook and a small amount of movement is possible in the adjustment.
All should be sitting where it wants to end up so we can just cut the gate in half allowing each half to swing on its own.
To give it all a finishing touch I like to go over any raw cuts or jagged edges with the grinder…….and there you go–the finished gate and the envy of the neighbourhood.
Here are a few other examples of gates, and archways.