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I want to build a road gate for a forest road apx. 10ft wide. I've fixed a gate at home and learned that hinges are a key point of failure and are strained more by weight and length of the gate. Given how long a road gate is, and how heavy long logs can be, how can I make the gate sturdy? Here's an example of the gate I'm imagining, but I'll be using freshly cut or recently fallen timber.

forest gate example

Specifically I'm wondering what properties the hinges should have.

My plan so far:For wood I'll use ~3-4" diameter poles of spruce and/or cedar. I figure I'll dig a hole with a post-hole digger, bury a post on both sides of the road, building the gate out of two logs at an angle to connect high and low on one of the roadside posts via hinges.

Should I have any additional parts, like some brackets, springs, and/or tension cables to help keep it sturdy? I want to build it to last, but I also know that over-engineering a gate too much can make it too heavy or complicated.

  • Freshly cut timber will be very heavy due to water content. You will have to use dry wood. The fixed post the hinges are attached to might have to be guyed out. Ordinary fence posts are buried 2 ft deep. I would think a hinge post would have to be deeper (although guying would help tremendously). This will be difficult to do with a hand post hole digger unless the soil is very loose. – Jim Stewart Dec 15 '18 at 9:52
  • Termites, carpenter ants, carpenter bees, etc. will feast on untreated wood. – Jim Stewart Dec 15 '18 at 9:58
  • Rustic gate on unpaved road google.com/…: – Jim Stewart Dec 15 '18 at 10:06
  • Is this gate going to be frequently used? If it isn't used frequently, just make sure the non-hinge side rests on the post, and that you have an additional post for resting in the open position. If it's a frequent use sort of thing, I'd redesign and add a wheel at the non-hinge side. – Aloysius Defenestrate Dec 15 '18 at 15:22
  • @AloysiusDefenestrate it will be infrequently used, 5-10 times per year probably. When it is used, there will be times we might want to leave it open for a couple days. Issue with wheels is the terrain at the spot is very irregular, where the road is slightly sloped (but not enough to block the gate from opening) and the driveway behind the gate is steeply sloped (enough where the gate can't open in that direction), with rough terrain on both. – cr0 Dec 15 '18 at 19:10
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Ideas here. One problem with wire mesh or guy wires is that birds may not see them. If you use open guy wires attach ~1 inch diameter wood around the wire so that a low flying owl or Cooper's hawk doesn't fly into it and get injured.

Rustic gate

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I'd say cedar will be your best bet, it holds up pretty well outside, and it's light. There are much more rot resistant woods for this purpose - osage orange and black locust are supposed to be the best for fence posts - but cedar is at least medium. I'd go a little bigger with the post if you can, the smaller wood will not have much heartwood which is the more rot-resistant wood. Of course if you can treat the wood, especially the base of the post, it will last much longer. If you can fill a little gravel under the post that might help too.

I see the hinges being the hardest part, you have to get them square and plumb on the fence post. I'd say hook and eye type hinges will be simplest and best chance for success, especially if you're not up for hewing the fence post square.

stanley screw hook and eye hinge

National Hardware N131-136

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