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I just finished repairing some heavy damage on my steel and cast iron front gate. I'm ready to hang it again but I'm having a little trouble because the pillars on both sides have a slight outward lean. The lean existed before the damage, and I can't / don't want to really fix it, but since it was already a problem pre-damage (the latch never engaged properly) I'd like to improve it while I have the chance.

I've exaggerated it in this drawing:

enter image description here

A top-down view is at the bottom to hopefully clarify.

I'm welding it all back together, so I'm flexible with component positioning (including mounting the lock box [this] at an angle if necessary, and the strike plate position and offset).

At its narrowest (on the bottom) the gate is about 3/4" narrower than the posts, so minimum 3/8" on each side if its centered. At the top the gate is 1 5/8" narrower than the posts, so maximum 13/16" on each side if its centered.

The gate is left-handed reverse, the current trim / stop piece is about 1-1/2" wide. The posts are 2x2" square tube, the gate frame is 2x1" square tube.

The hinges I have now are 5"x5" butt hinges (these).

The pillars are roughly 2'x2'.

I'm having trouble figuring out how best to mount this gate. My goals are pretty evenly spread between:

  • A balanced swing (slightly out of balance is OK -- but just a little).
  • Not overshooting the post when closing (good contact between trim and post when closed).
  • Latch engaging properly (lock box holds a mortise lock, keyed on both sides, deadbolt + latch).
  • Hiding the crookedness / looking nice.

So my question is; is there anything I can do to achieve all of those, or at least a good compromise?

If I could straighten the pillars I would, but they're crooked due to settling over the last 80-90 years (this is a brownstone in the city), and it's affected by neighboring structures. The masonry work on the pillars is in great condition, the crack from settling is on the ground directly centered between the posts. That's a long way of saying those pillars aren't budging at all.

The posts themselves also aren't going anywhere. They're bolted into the pillars in multiple places and also the bottoms are set 3" or so into the concrete floor. Straightening those isn't a project I feel comfortable taking on.

What are my options here?

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    Mount the hinges on threaded rods so that the pivot points can be aligned. – Solar Mike Jan 26 at 15:57
  • @SolarMike If it gives me the ability to tweak the gate position after hanging it, I like the sound of that; except I'm having trouble envisioning that. You mean stick threaded rod straight out the back of the hinges then through-bolt them onto the post (possibly with a weld to finalize)? – Jason C Jan 26 at 16:04
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    I had a post hinge (1/2” diameter) or pin hinge with a “loop” that dropped over it that was on the gate. Loop was held with two nuts... easily adjusted. – Solar Mike Jan 26 at 16:07
  • How big are the pillars? – JACK Jan 26 at 16:25
  • My brick pillars were 2 foot square but does that matter? It’s the adjustable hinge that controls the gate. – Solar Mike Jan 26 at 17:32
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If you can't straighten the pillars by mud jacking as Sherwood suggested, I'd suggest embedding rods into the pillars, then attaching the jambs (your 2x2 posts) to those and getting them nice and vertical.

Once the jambs are vertical, it should be a piece of cake to attach the hinges and strike plate so your gate is centered, vertical, and balanced.

Trim out between the jambs and pillars to hide the angle. You don't indicate the height of the posts/gate, but 7/8" split evenly (7/16" per side) should be reasonably easy to hide if the gate is door height (7' or so). If it's shorter, it will be more obvious, but there's only so much you can do.

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    That's not a bad idea; I can hide the gap at the top between the post and pillar with some fancy little detail mounts or something. I'm worried this would be harder than it sounds though, since the bottoms of the post are currently anchored a few inches into concrete. I suppose I could cut a slot down there then reweld it to bend the post near the bottom without messing with the concrete though. – Jason C Jan 26 at 21:27
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A: Do it so it's adjustable.

B: My first thought is to hang it so the gate is level. This would require that the gate NOT be centred since you have more lean on one side.

C: Once the gate is level, then add trim pieces to hide the wedges of space.


Have you checked out mud jacking? This is used here to relevel driveways, sidewalks and front steps. In essence they excavate a hole under the object, pump in a grout, or foam. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete_leveling


Edit: Easy adustment system:

Take 3/4" stock and put a long standard thread for 3" on one end. Bend the other end in a right angle.

Get joining nuts (Like a regular nut, but 3-4 times as long. Used for joining two pieces of threaded rod.)

Drill two holes large enough for the joining nut to fit. wax the threads of the joining nut, and abrade the outside of the nut taking the shine off.

Set the nuts into the holes with epoxy. Put the threaded stock in and get them level.

On the gate side weld two short pipes with 3/4" id openings.

Adjust the threaded stock so the angles are pointed up.

Set the gate down so the pipes go down on the stock.

Adjust by screwing/unscrewing the threaded stock. (You have to take the door off to adjust.

If you wish you can sand a bit off where the pipe meets the inside of the right angle. This will give a gate that tends to stick a bit at the middle of the swing.


If you leave a bit more play in it (use 7/8 ID pipe) and make the lower pipe closer to the pillar then the gate no longer has a vertical hinge. Opening it raises the gate as it pivots. This makes a self closing gate.

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  • I really like the adjustable option. I'll have to think of the laziest way to do this. Mud jacking I don't think is an option mostly because the budget isn't there. Plus, in the city, as soon as I start messing with the sidewalk and neighboring driveways I have to start getting work and dig permits which... ugh, I'd rather just have a crooked gate. There's sewers and water and gas lines and power / data cables all over the place here. I don't even think the city knows where they are any more. – Jason C Jan 26 at 21:29
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    The city (or, rather, the underground utility detection companies) will find 'em. All it takes is a call to 811 (or whatever your local "call before you dig" phone number is) - they won't even charge you for it! They put flags all over your yard and spray paint all over your pavement. – FreeMan Jan 27 at 14:41
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    @JasonC I added a recipe for an easy gate hinge that I've seen used on many farm gates. – Sherwood Botsford Jan 28 at 18:30

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