Building a 15′ Metal Property Gate

Now that my shop is built, I’ll be tackling a project that’s been on my to-do list since moving in….gates. Since I have two driveways, one that leads to the house and one that leads to the shop, I’ll be building two. This video is covering how I built this one leading to the house, so lets jump into how I did it.

 

Things I Used in This Project:

ISOtunes Bluetooth Hearing Protection
Lincoln Power Mig 260
Welding Hood
Welding & Grinding Hood
Welding Jacket
Welding Gloves
Triton SuperJaws
Cordless Grinder
Corded Grinder
Portaband
Rust-Oleum Black Spray Paint
Lincoln Plasma Cutter
Ultimate Workbench Plans
Triton 4″ Belt Sander

This gate will be 15’ long and 6’ tall and made entirely from steel….which meant I got a good workout in while building it.

As I don’t have anything set up or built on the metal side of my shop, I built the entire thing on my shop floor. I suppose even if I had a workbench, I would have still needed to build it on the floor.

I started by cutting the square tubing joints that will make up the bottom and two sides of the main frame. One thing about metal working that’s a huge stand out difference over wood, is how heavy everything is, it takes so long to set up even one cut.

I built up a standoff from wood scraps for the out feed support on the material and made sure every joint read level before making my cuts.

I’ve never built a gate before so before jumping into this project I asked a few welder friends about what material thickness I should go with and also if a diagonal should be included in the design. The information I got back was no diagonal as it wouldn’t help with sagging since the gate is longer than it is tall, but to go with thicker material for the bottom joint and the hinge side of the frame. So that’s what I did. The heavier stuff is 1/4” then the top and unhinged side are 3/16”.

Something else that will help with sagging is the top arch. Not only is it decorative, but it’s also functional. I first bought 2×2 straight tubing thinking I would find a fab shop to bend it for me. Nuh Uh. It was really expensive going that route, but it turns out a local steel shop called Triple S sells different arches right off the shelf.

Before cutting them to length, I decided to weld up the bottom and two sides first to get them in a fixed state before trying to measure for the arch. I took my time to not only get the sides completely square to the bottom, but to also make sure the material was nice and flat to each other. I placed a few tack welds in different spots on both sides, measured everything again to make sure it was still square and flat, then came back to weld three sides close.

Finding Center on the Arch

With that stuck in place now I could cut the arch. The main thing to consider here is I wanted the center of the arch to be center with my gate. So I first found center on the bottom, which was easy.

To get center on my arch though, I pulled a tape from side to side then used a framing square to find center on the tape, then transfer that line to the arch….which was about 14” above the tape.

Then I used my framing square on the bottom to get a straight scarp board lined up to my bottom mark. Then moved the top arch until the board was also lined up to the mark on it. Now I could mark either side of the arch where it lined up to the sides of the gate. I marked the underside so I could avoid doing math and figuring out the angle needed.

Just as a double check, I measured both sides I was about to cut off and when they measured the exact same, I knew things were correct and ready to cut.

The second arch is the exact same length as the first, so once I had the first one cut I could lay it on top of the second and use it to trace my cut lines.

These were pretty quick to install as I just had to make sure things were nice and flat as I was tacking and installing them. And of course that they were spaced a part the same distance from the left and right side.

Dual Welding and Grinding Helmet

Since I planned for this side to be the front of my gate, after I completed the welds for the aches, I came back with a grinder and ground down my welds until they were nice and smooth. Using this awesome new hood from Lincoln Electric that is an auto darkening welding hood, but can be flipped up to quickly become a clear protective grinding shield. This prevents having to switch out head gear when needing to go between the two tasks repeatedly during a project. Very cool in my opinion.

The frame body is done at this point. For the center I’ll be filling in the space evenly with 3/4” tubing.

Spacing Pickets

I first divided the space out evenly to figure out what the spacing between each picket needed to be so that I could cut a bunch of spacers made from wood. For these I cut up anything that was in my scrap bin set to be tossed out. Before placing them I would make sure there wasn’t bunch of metal dust or other debris between the spacer and the metal picket. Then I would draw a tape across the span to see how tall the next picket needed to be cut to.

The bottom is cut at a 90 of course, but the top has that arch to butt up to. This means the cut angle varies so when I pulled my tape I would read the left and the right then mark two dimensions on my material so that I could connect the two with a straight edge and have a visual of the cut needed.

A lot of pickets were needed for this gate. Which meant this was a time consuming process. To speed things up, I set up two cutting stations so I could keep my chop saw at a true 90 and get my bottom cut, then I used my portaband for getting the angled top cuts. Sticking the picket in my SuperJaws to cut it and also grind down the ends if just a bit needed to be taken off.

Cutting Angles with the Portaband

Once I got to the half way point things really picked up speed because I was then able to take the pickets I already cut and use them to make a twin for the mirrored side. This killed all the measuring, I just pay attention to keep them in the right order.

After all the pickets were cut, I started attaching them by first going through and tacking them in place. I wanted these pickets to be on the center of the bottom rail so I grabbed a spacer that was the thickness needed and moved it to sit under the picket.

The important thing in this step was to make sure the picket was not only sitting flat against this bottom spacer but also pushed up against the spacer dictating it’s distance from the next picket. To keep all the pickets on the same line, I used the same spacer for the bottom and moved it from picket to picket. I would tack a few along the bottom, then repeat the process, taking my same spacer with me, to the top.

Welding the Backside

Once I got to the end of the gate and verified that everything looked nice and straight and evenly spaced, I went back through the pickets and welded them closed. Actually, I only welded the front side with the gate laying down. After getting those done, I stood the gate up, using my SuperJaws to keep it from falling over, then welded the sides and back. This was awesome getting to see the gate up and being able to move around it. For some reason when it was laying on the ground, it seemed large but not 15’ x 6’ large. Stood up though, it really sunk in how big this gate was.

With the gate up right I was now able to weld what will be the backside of the gate’s frame. This was the side laying against my shop floor when it was on the ground. Annnnnd I also capped off the end of the open square tubing. I did this by clamping down some flat flat and cutting off a portion just big enough to fit inside the tubing. I used a magnet to hold it in place, then tacked then welded it close. Coming back with a grinder afterwards to make it nice and smooth.

I’m using the new Lincoln 260 Power Mig for this project and one thing I’m loving is how quick and simple it is to change the thickness of material. A few clicks and turn of a button and I can jump from 3/16” settings to 16 gauge.

And that! Is a finished gate. It’s funny because even though this is one of the largest things I’ve built, it only took three days to get this far. One to build the body, two to cut the pickets, and one tack and weld everything in place. So if you have a gate on your to-do list, then don’t think it’s out of the question to build one yourself.

Moving the Gate

Next up was paint. I called Brain and Cody for help on this one as I wanted to move the gate outside to the porch to first clean. As this gate weights about 350 lbs, they grabbed the tractor, a few straps, and made quick work of getting it moved. I used my Triton SuperJaws once again to stabilize it and discovered they actually have enough throw out to the side to stand on their feet and still grab onto the gate…..so that’s cool.

I set the gate on some OSB and scrap wood blocks to protect my porch from the paint. Before painting though, I gave the entire thing a good scrubbing. I filled a bucket with soap and water then used a stiff bristle brush to go over the entire gate and get all the mill scale off.

This was not a fun step.

Painting the Gate

After it was clean, I let it dry, then started painting. For this gate I went with a textured black spray paint by Rust Oleum. This is a protective Enamel Textured paint that is fast drying rust preventative, and is suitable for indoor or outdoor applications. Even though I went with black, it does come in a huge variety of colors. You can’t see it in the video, but I can’t say enough about how much I like the texture of this paint.

I started by painting the fast and easy part of the gate, the frame, then moved to the pickets. The technique I found to work the best, as far as moving quickly and making it look nice, is to start at the bottom and stand up while holding down the trigger. Once you get into a groove it becomes easy to keep your spaying line straight and in line with the picket. After getting the fronts painted, I repeated on the sides and the back.

I might come back later and add something decorative in the middle of the fence, but I’m leaving it as is for now. As I said, I have two gates on my property, so be sure to stay tuned, not only for the second gate, but for the installs as well!