Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Driveway gates - part 1

After making a fine oak gate for the entrance to my house my wife put a request in to have both sets of our driveway gates remade. The existing ones were about 30 years old and 20 years old respectively and had been installed at different times. They were of different design but had functioned well for years.

Past their sell by date

Many years of sterling work but they needed replacing
They were made of softwood that had been tanalized so were at the end of their lives. I had noticed an orange fungus had been growing on one set. Also there was a white discolouration appearing at the bottom of the same set. On closer investigation it appeared that the gates were rotting in several places and the fungus had just appeared last year (2015).

The other gates did not have signs of the fungus but had rotted in places.

The time had come to make new replacements.

Western red cedar cladding

I like the western red cedar that I have used in many outdoor projects including cladding parts of my shop so wanted to incorporate it into the gates. It is rot and insect resistant so is great for outside projects. Tongue and grooved WR Cedar will be used for the cladding panels in the gate. WR Cedar is lightweight but not very good for load bearing so I chose iroko for the framework of the gates.


For those who don't know about this timber it is a hard wood that comes from tropical parts of Africa and is grown sustainably. It also is very similar to teak (and also WR cedar) in that it doesn't need any treatment outdoors. It has a natural oil which makes it rot proof and insect resistant. As I don't like the maintenance chore of constantly painting outside items this is ideal for me.
Iroko starts out quite yellow but overtime darkens to a rich brown colour. This must be similar to how cherry changes colour overtime. The contrasting western red cedar only greys over time. However when it rains it develops a fantastic mid brown colour, The contrast between the timbers will probably stay for a while but I think they will probably develop a grey patina over time.
It is slightly lighter in density than white oak but will be still quite substantial. I'm led to believe that it works well but has quite a blunting effect on tooling. Only time will tell.


As many readers know I use Sketchup extensively in my designs so it is no different here.

I measured the original doors as they have proven to work well for us. One set it slightly wider but much taller than the others. I designed that set first.


The finished sizes of the stiles are 100mm (4") wide X 45mm (1-3/4") thick.

Cross members and bracing

The cross members and diagonal bracing are made from 25mm (1") thick X 150mm (6") wide stock.
The WR cedar boards are premachined T&G 144mm (5-3/4") wide x 19mm (3/4") thick.
View from outside of largest gate

View from inside of largest gate

Designing the other set was really easy as I simply copied the existing design into a new project. Then I changed the sizes of each component, moving them as necessary, using the push pull tool to shorten their respective lengths. The resulting design for the smaller gates gives the same overall impression.

View from outside of smaller gate
View from inside of smaller gate


All joints will be mortise and wedged tenon. I will also dowel the joints for extra strength. The adhesive will be epoxy. All fasteners have to be stainless steel or heavily galvanised as both species of timber react with iron in regular mild steel fasteners.

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