It all started with an iron frame made earlier last autumn. I didn’t manage to finish it on time, so I stopped working when winter started. I first made the frame because, this way, I was able to have an idea of how the whole gate would look in the end. If I had to change something, I could have decided to make the changes before having all the pieces ready.
I chose a slightly different design, seen some time ago in a picture. The idea is simple: 1 large board, 3 small boards, 1 large board, 2 small boards, 1 large board, 1 small board. After which the same pattern repeats until the whole gate is covered in wood.
I went to the store and bought a pack of 8 boards, 24 mm x 48 mm x 4 m long and an 80 mm x 80 mm fir wood prop, also 4 meters long. Because they did not fit in the car, I used their cutting service, where I cut all the wood in half. The first cut was free on every piece, so I did not have to pay anything for the cuts.
Although I needed 1 meter long pieces, I did not cut them that long because they have a weird policy of charging for the cutting service. For the 8 boards package, even if their employee would cut them only once, they would charge me 8 cuts. So, to cut them at 1 m long, it would have required 18 cuts, which would have increased the price by 50% …
So I left with a pack of 2 m long boards. In the end, it turned out to be better, because it was easier for me to handle only 16 boards until the end and then cut them, instead of moving 32 boards around from one tool to the other.
I started with straightening the thin boards. I chose to skip the use of the planer to make everything square, since it didn’t matter if they were a little crooked. I only straightened the surface, using the thickness planer on all the four sides, a much faster and easier way.
For the wide boards of the gate, I used props instead of planks because the quality of the wide boards available on the market was terrible. Using the props, I was able to cut them to obtain better quality boards. Well, I had a few extra steps to do, because I needed to straighten them out, cut them and then straighten all the boards again, but it was worth it. The boards that I made looked much better than what I could have bought from the store.
After straightening all the boards, I cut them to the required length – 94.5 cm. To be sure that both ends look good, I cut a bit from one end and then I cut the other end to obtain the necessary length.
Although many would skip the sanding step, by looking at how the backsides look like, where they were not sanded, I’m glad I took the decision to sand the boards on the visible side. Besides that, I also sanded smooth the ends of the boards and beveled all the edges.
For dying and protection I chose the combination of stain (applied with the spray gun and wiped with a cloth to reveal the color differences of the grain) and outdoor colorless varnish. Why so? Because if I chose to use a 2 in one product (stain and lacquer), I could’t apply a thick enough layer, while keeping the wood grain visible. Now, because the boards are stained (with UV-resistant outdoor grade stain) I can apply colorless varnish whenever I want, as many layers as I want, without affecting the color, maybe just the shininess degree.
After two layers of lacquer, the boards looked great, so I went over to install them on the gate’s metal frame. The assembly is temporary because I did not clean the rust from the iron frame, but I was anxious to see the result. And as impatient as I was, the three iron drills that I had broke right away, one after the other. I fitted a few boards and left it for the day, as it was already dark outside.
When installing the boards, I used three veneer strips of 1.5 mm thick as spacer. The three strips, together, leave the required 4.5-5 mm gap between two boards. But that was not the main reason why I used three, the real reason being: if had used single spacers, the removal of them would have probably scratched the varnish, which would have affected the resistance of the wood over time. Using 3 pieces, when I removed the spacer, I first removed the piece from the middle and then the other two without scratching the boards.
I used drywall screws 3.5 mm thick, so I needed a 2.5 mm drill. Every time I lost control of the drill, by tilting it from one side to the other, the drill bit broke in half. Although I bought 7 drill bits, confident that I would have at least 5 untouched in the end, after I fitted all the boards, I only had 2 drill bits left.
I really liked the final result, so I’ll continue with this model for the whole gate. It will look much better when it will be ready on the back side too, so that the space between two planks will be black instead of seeing through the gate, as it is right now. This is the reason why I did not take a picture in front, because the space between the boards was very ugly …
I still have to weld the frames of the other two parts of the gate. Why two more parts? Because it will not be a normal gate, two-pieced, as anyone would make it, but a three pieces gate, with a double-hinged joint. Why? Because, when I built the fence, and set the gate opening, I had another type of alley in my mind, with a different position and different width. So now I have to improvise so the gate drives into the alley, not beside it.
In the last pictures you can see how the varnish works in the rain. Instead of lingering on the wood surface, water gathers in dropletss that flow much faster, avoiding the risk of impregnation into the wood.
Meanwhile, we were able to complete the project. More details can be found in the article
The wooden gate with steel frame is finally ready.