How to Build a Wood Gate

Unlike other gates, which you can only install after finishing your fence lines, wood gates can be installed right along with your wood fence. The following steps will guide you in installing your wood gate together with your wood fence. Using these steps will help you have a continuous workflow and save you some time.

How to Build a Wood Gate

Set posts

While installing your wood posts, make sure you mark where the gate opening will be. Your gate posts will have a different distance compared to that of other fence posts. The typical gate opening is 36 inches.  Add to this a 1 1/2 inch (3/4 inch each) combined gap for gate hinges and the gate latch, and you will have a total distance of 37 1/2 inch between your gate posts.  This measurement is intended for self-closing hinges. There is no need to provide a gap for hinge installation if you will be using the regular hinge types.

How to Build a Wood Gate

Attach rails

After securing your fence posts, fix your fence rails onto them. Do not cut the rails at hinge post and latch post. These rails will serve as the primary frame for your wood gate.

How to Build a Wood Gate

Insert diagonal braces

To add stability and strength to your wood gate, insert diagonal braces on the railings in between your latch and hinge posts. Place these braces leaving a 4-inch clearance to the posts.  This clearance will serve as space for the latch and hinge installations.

How to Build a Wood Gate

Cut rails on gate hinge side

When cutting the rails on the hinge side, be sure to cut the rail only halfway through if you will be using a regular hinge. If you’re using self-closing hinges, cut the rails on the hinge side but be sure to provide support for your gate weight and the force of fixing the fence pickets.


How to Build a Wood Gate


Nail pickets in place

In fixing the nail pickets allow a 3/4 inch gap on latch side. On the hinge side also allow a 3/4 inch gap if you will be using self-closing hinges. No allowance is needed on the hinge side if you will be using regular hinge types.

How to Build a Wood Gate

Install hinges

Install hinges along the railings of the fence.  Installing a hinge on the top, middle, and bottom rail is advisable for regular hinge types.  For stronger hinge types, top and bottom hinges may be sufficient.  For regular hinge types, cut the center back of rails on hinge side after installation.

How to Build a Wood Gate

Cut rails on latch side and install gate latch

Cut the rails on latch side and install the latch. Make sure that proper support is provided to the gate while installing the latch.  Ensure appropriate latch installation by using reliable installation guides.

How to Build a Wood Gate


How to Build a Wood Gate

Insert gate stopper

To prevent the gate from opening more than the desired angle and causing unwanted damage on the hinges and the gate, insert a 2 inch by 4 inch gate stopper or “Back Stop” with a setback of 1/2 inch from the pickets.


After the installation, test your wood gate to determine performance. For those using self-closing hinges, adjust closing force as desired. Make any adjustments needed until desired gate performance is achieved.

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