Learn how to make a garden gate - a great project for a novice woodworker, that uses simple tools and lots of skills to create a solid gate, that will last.

In this project we've opted to use traditional joinery, using mortice and tenon joints, rather than screws and nails, meaning it will, not only give you years of service and will stand the test of time, but will be solid and secure to keep your pets in, and intruders out.

Make a garden gate

Join Jason as he shows you how to make a garden gate in our Woodworking Wisdom video or follow our step by step guide below.

Buy the plans

Purchase and download the project plans here

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Measurements are key

The materials we have used for this project are simply off-the-shelf from a builders' merchant, with standard sizes that are easily available. It also uses simple tooling making this accessible to most woodworkers, including novices.

Your measurements are key, and a simple drawing of your chosen design will help you piece together the joints. We have used a traditional mortice and tenon joint and the methods used easily adapted to make an interior or exterior door.

Prepare your timber

Begin by cutting the timber lengths down to manageable sizes, but leave them over length. The two main uprights are cut 70mm over length as this will provide horns on either end to protect the gate until it is fitted.

Clamp the two sections together and mark out the position of the mortices. Remember the panel groove will affect the widths of these. The wider middle and bottom rails will have a double tenon with haunches.

Rout the mortices

The router is set up with an half inch worktop cutter and two fences, one either side of the workpiece. Centre the cutter on the work. Mark out the overall length of the mortice around the base of the router and fix small blocks to act as stops. Use the router to plunge cut downwards into the work, removing the bulk. Then move it back and forth to create the clean length of the mortice. The aim is to cut the mortice to 55mm deep.

Once done on both stiles, the 10mm deep groove for the panel can then be cut. This removes the screw holes from the stop blocks. The panel grooves can also be cut into the muntin (internal uprights) and the top, middle and bottom rails.

If you have access to a router table, then the grooves can easily be cut using a slot cutter. Next, square up the mortices on the ends using a hand chisel to clean out the corners.

Cut and mark the main rails

With the mortices cut, you can then cut the three main rails accurately to length before marking out the tenon lengths. The mortice slots for the middle vertical muntins can also be marked out and cut using the same two fence set up.

Cut the tenons

Next, cut the tenons using a router with a milling cutter. Use a pro grip type clamp as a back stop and hold all three pieces to the bench. Ensure all three pieces are accessible so both sides of the tenon can be cut. To make a repeatable cut, use location blocks to ensure the pro grip clamp and workpieces can be reset to the same location. Set the cutter depth and use a scrap section to support the router work across the three boards from left to right, front to back to remove the material. Turn the boards over and repeat the process.

Test fit the joints

Number the joints as you work through the test fitting. If needed, adjust the thickness using a block plane and use a coping saw to cut the haunched sections that fit into the groove and between the wide tenons. A section of 10mm ply can be used as a pairing block to support the chisel to clean this up to the correct depth.

Dry fit the frame together, ensuring the joints close together. Check whether the bottom of the mortice has a lump that has not been chiselled out, whether the haunched section is too long, if there is loose waste material in the mortice that has not been cleaned out, and whether the tenon is too long.

Cut and fit the muntins

The two muntins can now be accurately measured and cut to length. The tenons are cut in the same way. The frame is put back together to check these fit.

The short top muntins are also morticed into the frame in the same way, so these are marked out to get equal spacing and then the mortices are cut with the router. The overall length can then be measured, cut to length and then rout the tenons using the same method. We decided to add a small panel in the outside of these five muntins and so the groove is also cut at this stage.

Measure and cut the panels

With the frame put back together, you can next measure the panel sizes, taking 2-3 mm off the width of the wider panels to allow these to expand when this gets wet. The panels are then cut to size.

Carefully take the frame apart. Top tip: use a one-handed bar type clamp, with the heads reversed, to pump this apart easily without damaging the timber.

The panels' thickness is greater than the groove. To allow these to fit, use a dish carving cutter to cut a rebate edge around the edge of both sides of the panels. This can either be done using a handheld router, set up with the fence, or using a router table. Take two to three passes to adjust the fitting of the panels into the groove. A short test piece can be done to set this up.

Test fit and glue

Dry clamp the pieces together to check it all comes together and fits. With the dry fit complete, the gluing up session can begin. This is best done in stages as there is a lot to pull together in one go. Begin with the top and middle rail with the short muntins.

Next, glue the bottom with the main muntins and middle panel before the side stiles are glued to make the overall gate. Ensure that exterior glue is used for this.

Finally, once dry, sand the surface to clean up and flatten to lose the discrepancies of the timber thickness for a smooth finish.

Fitting a lock

Once you have completed your gate you can add additional hardware such as a latch or bolt, or even fit a lock for further security.

Made it? Share it!

If you have made our garden gate project, we would love to see it. Share your pictures on social media. Search and tag @axminstertools on Facebook or Instagram and share your pictures.