Pallet Wood Driveway Gates Detailed Step-by-Step Design & Construction

This was a project for a friend who had an existing UPVC set of drive gates that she wanted replacing. As she lives on the beach, these needed to be of robust build and also with solid fixtures and fittings to withstand both the Westerlies from across the Atlantic and the heavy salt spray in the Winter. As the drive itself was uneven and the existing granite posts and hinges old but serviceable, I also intended to fit a set of support wheels to the gates in order to both facilitate opening and to prevent sagging.

Make Pallet Wood Driveway Gates

Design

I decided to replicate the sizes of the original gates in the pallet wood version, this meant that each gate had a width of 1750mm (69") and thus at nearly 6ft support wheels were essential. The existing granite gateposts had steel hinge supports with 12mm (½") pins embedded within them and I chose to mount the new gates from these pins. The gates were 95cm (37")high and when hung, the top rail was to be at a height of 102cm (40") from the ground. The exposed end grain of the four vertical sides and the vertical slats of the gate were protected with end caps for the former and chamfered capping strips for the latter.

Pallet wood for carpentry


Pallet Stringers and Deckboards


As usual, pallet wood was chosen for the raw material and this was already in my stock of recuperated pallet wood. The width of each gate meant that the wood was from non-standard size pallets. The four vertical sides of the gates were 'stringers' from two-way entry pallets. Diagonal braces were used to stiffen each gate.

DIY Pallet Wood Driveway Gates - planning design
For the vertical slats, I laid the uncut timbers for the gate perimeter flat on the ground to the desired gate dimension and laid the slats upon them until I felt a pleasing result was obtained. In this case 11 evenly spaced  slats were deemed sufficient. The slats were secured between horizontal rails that were fixed to the vertical sides of the gates.


Hardware & Where to Get It

Pallet Wood Driveway Gates choosing screws
I ordered  two sizes of wood screws I needed in the gate construction  viz: 5x40mm and 5x50mm from Reisser Cutter at Amazon UK

They are also available from Reisser Cutter in these same sizes:-    5 x 40mm and 5 x 50mm  at Amazon USA

(Note the salt spray on the lens!)

Pallet Wood Driveway Gates choosing strap hinges
I chose 600mm (24") strap hinges secured with coach/carriage bolts to fit. These are a typical French 'fishtail' design, very suitable for by the sea and were available at my local hardware store.

Pallet Wood Driveway Gates choosing spring-loaded casters



For the wheels:  I ordered two from Amazon UK they were spring-loaded gate casters from Fixman.

A very similar type are also available from Amazon.com in the USA from  Shepherd Hardware.



Bolts for Pallet Wood Driveway Gates
A pad bolt gate latch kept the two gates shut and the one gate was held shut additionally with a garage door bolt passing into a pre-drilled hole in the drive. Again I found these at my local hardware store.

Construction 

Once I had selected my timber I cut the four vertical side posts to length from my stringers. The four faces of each side post were sanded to remove most of the machine marks and surface stains that were visible. The long top and bottom rails which made up the other two sides of the gate frame were cut to length. I had decided to cut 8 of these items so that when they were joined to the vertical side posts the front and rear rails were separated by a gap adequate for the smaller vertical slats to be 'sandwiched' between them.

All the faces of the 8 rails needed to be planed as the pallet wood planks were in an 'as sawn' condition. This was to remove the majority of machine marks and remove the risk of splinters. I decided to also use my router to machine a chamfer on the edges of all the road-facing timber, this to furnish a run-off for rain from the windward side of the property and to give a more elegant appearance to the finished gates.

Pallet Wood Driveway Gates making lap joints


Tenon joints - Pallet Wood Driveway Gates
The rear top and bottom rails were joined to the side posts via lap joints so as to permit the easy fitting of the strap hinges. The front top and bottom rails, on the other hand, were fitted using full-width through tenon joints. These were the main structural joints of the gates. The space between the rear and front rails was the thickness of the vertical slats.

Pallet Wood Driveway Gates making tenons


This was when I encountered my first major problem of using pallet wood in such a project; the top and bottom rail timber was over size for the tools I had to make the mortises i.e. 20mm drill and chisel plus, the thickness varied slightly between each plank, not really surprising when one considers the original use for the timber. So, I used my circular saw, mounted in its' saw table to reduce the thickness of the tenon to this dimension of 20mm.

Tenon joints - Pallet Wood Driveway Gates


Pallet Wood Driveway Gates - mortise and tenon joints
Each tenon joint that was cut was numbered to match its' counterpart mortise in the posts. Once all these joints had been cut, numbered and checked I could start the gate assembly. The front top and bottom rails were the first to be fixed in place, I used a waterproof PVA glue on the tenon and once each pair of rails were in place and the frame of the gate was checked to ensure it was square, I screwed each tenon in place with two screws.

Pallet Wood Driveway Gates - attaching vertical slats


Pallet Wood Driveway Gates - vertical slats
After the adhesive was set and the final checks on the finished width and squareness of each gate frame had proven satisfactory, I began attaching the vertical slats to the inside face of the front top and bottom rails. each slat was fixed in place with a single countersunk screw into the rails. To make the gap between each slat the same I had selected an appropriate piece of pallet wood which I used as a spacer between each fixed slat and that which was being fitted next.

Pallet Wood Driveway Gates - top and bottom rails


The rear top and bottom  rails were then screwed in place.

Pallet Wood Driveway Gates - Weather strip
To add greater stiffness to the gates I cut and fitted two diagonal braces onto each gate. The braces were of similar thickness to that of the top and bottom rails and were chamfered on their outward facing edges. The mitre cuts at each end of the brace was such that the brace could be wedged against the edges of the rear top and bottom rail and then secured in place by screwing into the vertical slats. It is important to note that the mitre was to fit the gate and was not an exact 45 degree cut.

Finally, the weather strip was screwed in place along the top edge of each gate.

Fitting was reasonably straightforward, each gate was put in the required position and was supported at the correct height with wood packing strips underneath the vertical posts. The hinges were lowered onto their respective pins and held against the face of the rails so that the bolt holes could be drilled, the coach bolts inserted and fixed in place.

Pallet Wood Driveway Gates - top caps


The final operation, before applying the linseed oil, was fitting the ironmongery and the 4 caps to the vertical posts.

Pallet Wood Driveway Gates fitting weather protection


Note that the caps in the middle were attached off-centre on the posts this to afford a clearance for opening the gates. The other two caps were similarly offset to lend an 'art nouveau' appearance.

Finished project - Pallet Wood Driveway Gates
...and here's the film:



If you can't find ironmongery/hardware suppliers locally then here are some ideas:


If you have enjoyed this article and found it interesting then share it with your friends on social media or suchlike. Please also feel free to ask questions and or make comments.
Until next time and from a rainy day in Normandie,

Cheers, Andy

© Andy Colley 2018

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