A while ago I visited the Shaker Plantation in Pleasant Hill, Kentucky. I love not only studying the construction of early American structures, but also such things as handmade tools, furniture, fencing and gates. I get great pleasure in reproducing things here at Timber Butte so that they are in keeping with and give the feel of homesteads from years past. We try to use as much of the natural rock and logs as it is functionally possible for this reason. Whenever we visit places like the Shaker village I look extra close at things and take pictures so that I might incorporate ideas here at home. I guess it is more of a hobby than anything. Like many others, I get deep satisfaction using my hands in my free time. Generally I have far more projects than I have time for, but the vision to do them keeps me going.
Building gates is not only functional, but can save tons of money, also there is something about handmade stuff that makes things look quaint even if they are only subconsciously noticed. Recently Nancy and I have planted a new lawn around the house which when established will be susceptible to the abuse of loose horses or cows. It’s amazing what a horses hoof can do to a fragile lawn, especially when they know they are being naughty and decide to spin around and flee when trying to be caught. It can be a mess. For that reason we decided to fence and gate it off. Because it is in our front yard we wanted it to stay in keeping with our homestead vision. Here’s what I did:
First I cut lodge poles to appropriate lengths drilling them in the same way I did when I construct the lodge pole gate for the corral and entrance (See Builidng Projects – entry #94.) In this way I made both holes and plugged pole ends. (See picture) I then screwed together my main gate supports. Second I cut short lengths of lodge poles down the middle with a table saw. This takes a little practice to make even splits, but perfection isn’t all that important. Remember the object is to make things to look homemade not like they have been stamped out in some factory. I always refer to my mistakes as a means of providing unique and quaint touches. Then I screw these half pieces onto the frame making sure things are as square as possible. Making gates square will make them hang even when they are hinged to the upright posts.
I’ve made dozens of gates like this in my life and have discovered that if they are done with care they will serve you well for years. In the past Nancy has planted climbing roses or vines that grow up and over them covering up all of my mistakes making them look all the better.