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I am building and hanging a new wooden double gate. How do I construct and/or balance the gate so that when I open it completely, which is at 90 degrees, it will stay open but also when I close it, it stays closed?

Yes, I might put a self-locking latch so that when it is closed, it automatically catches and stays closed. Is there another way to do this? I plan to use a dead-bolt type lock, and would prefer that you not have to unlatch it to open the gate when not locked.

This is an double gate, where one gate door is 40" wide the other is only 20". I'd like both sides to behave the same, staying open and closed. I am not overly concerned about very windy days, where the wind might defeat a balanced system.

Here's an another way to look at what I am thinking: (originally I was not thinking that the gate should move towards open, or closed, but I now see this as desirable). Gravity powered, two-way, self-closing gate

For various reasons I am planning on using a hinge similar to this: Gate Hinge
I might be persuaded not to do use this if it helped to achieve my desired outcome.

I could use gravity to make the gate stay closed by itself. The trick is, I think, that I also want the gate door to stay open too, when I open it.

EDIT: Closer! I find that there are weld-on hinges for chain-link fences that do this, and that they make "Rising Hinges" or "Lift Off Hinges" that do half the job. Many of these are designed to use gravity to automatically close a door but all of them seem to sell only as wholesale items.

Related: How can I make a door open or close depending on the door position? (good and useful answer here too), How do I adjust a door so it doesn't swing on its own? and How to keep door open or closed automatically?

  • Why don't you want a latch on the gate - is it because you want to be able to push the gate open without using your hands? If so, would a hands-free latch be acceptable? – mbeckish Sep 1 '15 at 17:12
  • Have you considered something like a screen door closer with push-button lock? – BrownRedHawk Sep 1 '15 at 17:15
  • @mbeckish - Which hands-free latch did you have in mind? This search seems to return "hands-free" in terms of hands-free locking, not for hands-free opening. I want to be able to just push the gate open if it is not locked. There is a separate lock. – DavidC Sep 1 '15 at 18:21
  • @BrownRedHawk - I am not sure what you mean and that doesn't sound like it would work well with a double door wooden gate. – DavidC Sep 1 '15 at 18:24
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    The trick might be to go without a traditional latch at all. The screen door closer I have is actually on a relatively heavy door, and it pneumatic/hydraulic rather than just a spring in a tube. Have you considered a spring type hinge like a two way waiter's door? – BrownRedHawk Sep 1 '15 at 18:49
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If the hinges are on the same vertical line, then (as noted by @DA01) the hinge should stay wherever you leave it (absent wind, etc). If the hinges aren't vertically aligned, then the gate will want to swing towards a specific point. You can use this to solve your problem.

Imagine that the gate is swinging on a rod, and can go 360° around the rod. If the rod is vertical then you can put the gate anywhere you want and it will stay. However, if the rod is leaning towards a certain direction, then the gate will tend to swing until it is pointing in that direction (because the gate will be lower at that point).

What if you move the gate to the exact other side of the rod from where it wants to go? It will sit there, balanced. If you then move it in either direction it will continue to swing in that direction until it reaches its low point.

So, what you want to do with your gate is to align the hinges so that the hinge line leans away from the the middle of the gate's range (at 45°). That way the gate will tend to swing away from the 45° point, towards the nearer of 0° and 90°.

Edit: When you do this, you may have to readjust the position of the gate on its hinges in order to have the gate properly fit into its opening. But, once you adjust the post side of the hinges to get the right swing, changes to the gate side of the hinges won't affect the swing, so you won't have to readjust anything.

  • I think that you are saying, assuming that your post is plumb, that the gate door itself is square or weight balanced and that you are using hinges, it then is as simple as putting a shim under the lower hinge so that the hinge pin is a little further away from the post then the upper hinge pin. This pushes the far lower corner of the gate slightly higher and further out from the post then the corresponding top corner of the gate. Said simply, put a shim under the lower hinge. – DavidC Sep 2 '15 at 15:24
  • Well, no: you can't just push the hinge straight out if you need the gate to swing towards the closed position and the 90° position, as it will balance at the 90&deg position and, if you open it further, swing towards the 180° position. You have to move the lower hinge at an angle so that the line between the hinges is where you need it to be. Given that hinge line, it doesn't matter how the gate weight is distributed. – Daniel Griscom Sep 2 '15 at 15:41
  • In spite of my 90° need and your answer, I was still imagining a 180° swing. Didn't consider 90° well enough. To have it stay closed or stay open, I need the gate high point to be at 45°, so that gravity will do its work. The bottom hinge needs to be positioned to make it so that closed and 90° are the low points. – DavidC Sep 2 '15 at 16:34
  • Well, the high point will be 45°, and the low point will actually be 225°, even though the gate will never make it there. – Daniel Griscom Sep 2 '15 at 17:35
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The key would be to make sure the post holding up the gate is absolutely vertical. That's sometimes hard to do (or impossible) hence the use of latches and catches.

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I have actually worked this problem in reverse, making a gate that wants to swing open or shut so it moves nice and easy. I think you can make it work without too much trouble.

Normally you want the top and bottom hinges perfectly plumb so the gate swings very easily. Gate hinges and latches have a bit of play in them, they'll operate even if everything's not perfectly plumb / level / square.

I believe if you shim the bottom hinge a bit out away from the post, and move it a hair left or right, you'll get the effect you're looking for, you basically make a high spot in the gate's arc of travel at about 45 degrees so it will tend to fall from that point either all the way open or all the way closed. In those positions, it won't swing "uphill" on it's own.

I think it will take some trial and error to get the position just right. (Not to mention to test my theory...) I'd attach the top hinge permanently, and clamp the bottom hinge on the shim with a big C clamp until you find the thickness of shim and offset that works, then mark it and fasten it.

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