- Ideas & How-Tos
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This easy-to-build entry gate makes your side yard look inviting and extends your home's curb appeal.
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Safety is paramount, so before you begin building your fence, you are required to locate underground utilities. In the United States, you can do this by dialing 811. You will also need to contact your local building department to learn about permits and call your homeowner's association to verify local requirements. One final check of property lines, and you can get started.
Set up a string line so that it is offset 6" from the center of where the post line will run. Along the string line, mark the centers of the post, and then use stakes to mark each hole center 6" from the string. Remove the string, but leave the stakes, and begin digging the holes at the marked locations.
The fence posts should be no more than 72" from center to center. We used manual posthole diggers because there are only 4 holes. If you want to build more sections, consider using a gas-powered posthole digger.
With the holes drilled to your building code's recommended depth - plus 4" for gravel - re-string the guide line and set a post in each hole; stand them up straight using a post level, and align the posts with the string, checking the 6" offset.
Measure between posts to verify placement as you go, and adjust the holes if needed. We used a 4"×6" for the arbor posts (A) and a 4"×4" for the line posts (B) - the larger posts give the arbor a more substantial feel, and they add visual interest.
Place 4" - 6" of gravel at the bottom of the each hole to promote drainage. Now measure the depth of the arbor postholes from grade to gravel and add 96" to determine the overall length of the 4"x6". Cut the post to length (See Cutting List).
Place a post back into one of the holes and recheck the alignment. Pour in a bag of quick-set concrete, add water, and check the post one more time to be sure it's level. Allow the concrete to harden, following the manufacturer's instructions, and add a second bag of mix to the hole if necessary to bring the concrete within 2" of grade. Backfill the remainder of the hole with dirt, and move to the next posthole.
Fast-setting concrete saves time and money. Because the concrete hardens in 20 - 40 minutes, it's unnecessary to brace each post.
Using a circular saw, cut the 4"x4" fence posts (B) to proper height - each line post should extend 35" above the ground.
Cut a 4"×4" for the beam (C) and secure the beam so the top of the beam is 9" down from the top of the arbor posts. Drive the 8"-long TimberLok screws through the post into the beam.
You can set the posts to be perfectly plumb, but if a post has any twist or bend to it, by the time you reach the top of the post, things may not be perfect. To help keep the posts parallel and plumb, measure the distance between the arbor posts at ground level. Cut the beam to this length.
Use clamps to ease the work, acting as an extra set of hands when screwing the posts to the beam.
Cut the spacers (D) to length, then cut a 2" 45-degree bevel on each end. Center the middle spacer first and then work your way to the posts, securing the spacers to the beam as shown by driving 2-1/2" deck screws at an angle through the spacers into the beams.
Assemble the remaining elements of the arbor on your workbench. Start by cutting the rails (E) to length, and cut a 3-1/2" 45-degree bevel on each end. Now cut 8 boards 23-1/2" long for the slats (F). Lay the rails on your bench so they are a post-width (A) apart - use a scrap from the post to get the proper spacing. Secure the slats to top edges of the rails.
To lay out the arched arbor top, mark the arc end points and arc center points where shown and drive a screw at each end point. Use a thin piece of trim or a fairing stick as drawing guide; place the trim against the screws and bend the board out until it reaches the center points.
Trace the arc with a pencil, and cut the arch using a jigsaw. Sand away any rough edges.
Back up on the arbor post, slip the newly assembled arbor top over the posts so it rests on the spacers, centering the rails on the post. Secure the rails to the post with two 4" TimberLok screws at each rail-to-post connection.
For the fence sections, we'll start by measuring the distance between the posts (near the ground) and then we'll build the fence in sections on a workbench.
Cut the bottom rail (G) and ends (H) to length for one section based on the between-post measurement. To determine the length of the wide rails (I) and narrow rails (J), subtract the thickness of two ends from the length of the bottom rail.
Assemble the frame by securing the two wide rails to the ends using 2-1/2" deck screws. The top wide rail is located by spacing it off your workbench by 3/4" using a spacer; the top edge of the rail is flush to the tops of the ends. The lower wide rail is positioned with the bottom surface of the rail flush to the bottom of the ends. Add the lower rail, centering the rail on the width of the bottom wide rail and flush to the ends of the assembled frame.
Complete the frame by adding the narrow rails using 2 1/2" deck screws, space them off the workbench as shown using a 3/4" spacer.
The number of pickets (K), will be determined by the length of your fence sections. Measure the length of the section and cut enough pickets to allow a 2" to 3-1/2" gap between the boards. Start in the middle and space the pickets evenly. Secure the pickets to the rails with 1-5/8" deck screws.
With the fence panel complete, install the section between the posts, driving 2-1/2" screws through the ends into the posts. Repeat for the remaining fence sections.
With all of the sections in place, add a piece of 5/4" decking as a cap rail (L). Use a longer piece to span several posts if you are building multiple sections. Adjust length of cap based on your fence needs.
Build the gate in place to ensure a proper fit. Cut the gate rails (M) 7" longer than the distance between the arbor post, and temporarily secure to the post where shown. Cut the angle brace (N) to length and position as shown, so the ends of the brace are 3/8" in from the post.
Mark the angles and cut them with a jigsaw. Place the brace in between the rails and secure with screws. Add the vertical braces (O). Mark and cut the braces to fit and screw in place. Cut the pickets (P and Q) to length (Cutting List) and install the pickets, centering the middle wide picket and working your way to each side. Space the pickets about 3/4" apart. The edge of the last picket should be about 3/8" from the edge of the post. The width of the boards may vary, so adjust the spacing as you go.
To lay out and cut the arch, follow the steps you used earlier to cut the arbor. Lay out the arch points, use a thin piece of trim as a fairing stick, and bend the stick to mark the layout lines. Trace the curve and cut the pickets using a jigsaw.
After marking the fence rails for the final length, remove the gate assembly from the post and trim the rails to length so they're flush with the edges of the outside pickets. Attach the hinges to the gate panel using the screws provided and secure to the arbor post. A 2"x4" placed under the gate will help prop it off the ground for clearance as the gate swings.
Install the latch following the manufacturer's instructions. To provide additional protection of the treated wood, allow the material to dry for about two months before applying a deck or fence stain. A garden sprayer works great to coat all of the surfaces.