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RogerS

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LOML asked me to make her a new garden gate. Not your run-of-the-mill gate but one something like this which was her inspiration and taken from a magazine article.



The changes would be to convert the two gates to just one gate and change the dimensions to match a very wide Georgian style front door. Her initial onsite estimates were 1300mm tall x 1400mm wide. She also wanted the gate to have 'substance' and so we decided that it would be about 55mm thick which seemed a reasonable 'fit'.

On the face of it, fairly straightforward or so it should have been, but I'm still learning! I'd like to share my thoughts and errors and, as ever, any suggestions very, very welcome as it's very much a work in progress.

First decision was type of wood - soft or hard. I had originally intended to make it from some old elm floorboards taken out of our house but being so wide just did not have enough wood. Oak was a possibility. But then LOML sad that she wanted it painted and I couldn't do that to oak!

Meranti was a possibility as I know it takes paint very well but my local timber merchants couldn't track down any 75 x 75mm Meranti. So I decided to use softwood and give LOML an annual paint brush.

My first thought was to make up a 1:1 template from some thick polystyrene insulation foam. I spent ages thinking about how to get the curves right...graphics packages, maths graphing programs, even a very old Flexicurve strip...but in the end the Mark One eyeball and a felt tip pen produced this.



Notice that I drew two curves..on the two halves...not intentional but it helped LOML decide which shape she preferred (the left one). The brown sticky tape was simply because the gate was so damn wide I needed to add on a bit of foam.

The advantage of being 1:1 soon became apparent because when viewed in situ, the gate was a monster and it was very, very easy to trim the height down to something better. Had I NOT made this simple template and gone full tilt at the final gate then the end-results would have not been what the client wanted.

How to make it?

75 x 75mm was the thickest wood that I could easily obtain. When building stuff this size you start to see the benefits of resawing but (a) not having easy access to thick stuff to resaw and (b) only having a tiddly bandsaw that wasn't really practical. I really, really wish I had bought a larger bandsaw.

So 75 x 75 meant gluing up which is what the blue lines are on the above picture. I planed and thicknessed the lengths down but just in case I needed to run the glued pieces through the thicknesser again I decided to glue it up in two separate stages. Three glued pieces of 75x75 could just about go through my thicknesser.

I used biscuits for strength and this is where seven P's (mistake 1) come in because when you cut the top arch out, you open up the biscuit joints so



Seeing that beautiful grain pattern makes me think it's a shame to paint it!

To get the correct shape and ensure it was symmetrical I traced the original curve from the foam to this template below which is used by granite worktop companies and it is very, very stable. Flipping it over allowed me to ensure the two halves were symmetrical.



Th above picture was mistake two...I used the wrong curve on the foam for the first attempt :oops:

Cutting the curves on my bandsaw required a lot of preparation to support the top arch assembly of 3 off 55 x 69 x 1400mm. Mistake 3 was not planning far enough ahead to have sufficient room to swing the arch about the place as it went through the bandsaw and mistake 4 was being lazy and not changing the blade to a smaller size. It all got very, very hairy especially when the bandsaw was still running and I couldn't get to the off switch in midcut and had run out of room to manouevre

The end result was pretty poor in the first instance which was why I went and bought some spokeshaves (and am now trainee spokeshave Grade 1) to improve things.

BASIC CONSTRUCTION
To get the basic construction I took a look at our kitchen door. Here the stiles go all the way to the top of the door but my thoughts were that if I did this that the endgrain would be exposed to the elements and so would rot even if painted. Diag B below.

An alternative would be to make the stiles end below the arch as in Diag A. but this would allow the endgrain to be visible when the gate was opened. I toyed with Diag C for a while but could not come up with any sensible form of joint (other than the mitre which I thought would be much weaker than a tenon and mortice). Not being able to piicture how I could combine both tenon/mortice and mitre, I opted for Diag A.



The stiles in the kitchen door are rebated to take tongue and groove. Originally I planned to use the 'Rat to do this but at 1200mm or so long, my gate stiles needed fixing to the mortice rail. Now factor in the Xtreme Xtension and the router plate mounted on two raising plates in compensation, I found the whole thing rather unstable. Also, as I tracked the mortice rail along the 'Rat, the cut line went out by a couple of mm over the length of the stile. Not good. Of course, I now realise that I could hand feed the stile through the Rat but I feel more comfortable doing the rebate on the router table.



I then realised my next mistake. Since I need to run a rebate also around the arch, I intend to use a cutter with a bearing guide. But of course by this time I'd cut the top arch out of the raw material like so


which gives me little support for my router.

What I should have done was just make one cut so



Which would have given me much needed support for the router base. Fortunately, as you can see, I kept the offcut and so should be able to get some support to dig me out of the hole.

This same mistake also came back to haunt me as I had no easy means of clamping up the second part of the arch. Fortunately the offcut again saved my day like so..



So here are the two parts of the arch all glued up and ready for final bandsawing.



and the final arch is now ready to be rebated



...to be continued
 

Chris Knight

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Roger,

I am a little unclear as to the purpose of the arch. It appears to be something to stop rain getting into the end grain of other vertical boards that will make up the gate?

If this is so, I would observe the following:-

1. There is still a substantial amount of end grain showing, albeit not vertical (and yes, I know you plan to paint it)

2. It isn't going to be hugely strong (not that it needs to be) with the short grain sections as they are.

Personally, I would have cold laminated some thin ply to cover everything including the stiles. Then you have long grain throughout, and no weak spots, plus it's very light and can be made wider than the thickness of the gate very easily to provide a design feature.
 

RogerS

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The arch is there for aesthetics. If you look at the picture the original gate also is arched. And, yes, you are right of course that there is a lot of end grain over the extent of the arch!

Not sure I understand what you mean by 'cold laminate'.

In your suggestion do you mean for the ply to lie horizontally over the top of the arch? If so then that would test my proficiency with a spokeshave a bit too far as I would expect that there would be inevitable small gaps between the ply and the arch!!

Isn't there a risk of it delaminating at the edges also?

Roger
 

Chris Knight

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Roger,
"Cold laminate" simply means no heat is needed. Just a suitably shaped form plus thin wood laminations and glue plus lots of clamps. (or a foam form and a vacuum bag). I suggested ply but really nearly all woods are suitable. Rip them to about an eighth of an inch thick and use a waterproof glue like Titebond II or II or a poly glue. If you build up the lamination thick enough you can plough a groove in the concave side of the curved surface of a width that will slip over the upright gate boards so the fit will appear perfect even if it isn't.

The edge of your cap will be as waterproof as you like, either with protection from a finish - if you used ply, or from the long grain of the wood itself (so to speak- of course it would still benefit from some sort of finish) if you used thin plies of wood.
 

devonwoody

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The above just goes to show that the object to be made might be a simple everyday project but when construction gets underway how much thought and effort is required.

Dont forget a hanging system is going to be required. :D
 

Woodythepecker

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The right way, the wrong way, or simply just a better way, this is what Uk Workshop is all about. Thanks for passing on your tips Chris.

Roger, very good, keep us up to date with the progress of your gate.

Regards

Woody
 

tim

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Woodythepecker":p37bspu0 said:
The right way, the wrong way, or simply just a better way, this is what Uk Workshop is all about. Thanks for passing on your tips Chris.
Agreed - well put Woody! =D>

Roger - its coming along nicely and thank you for your honesty about the painful bits (hammer) .

Cheers

Tim
 
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Roger

I enjoyed reading your gate tail. Interesting seeing how things catch one out regardless of the thought put in beforehand but the curved top looks nicely finished and will enhance the gate quite nicely in my opinion

Looking forward to the next installment and hoping that the mistakes (learning opportunities) diminish :wink:
 

Gill

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Perhaps there's scope for cold laminating the whole gate frame in a contrasting wood, just to give a bit of weather protection and increase the strength of the arch? It would certainly make the gate look very distinctive.

Even if you proceed with the project as originally conceived, Roger, I think you'll still have a gate to be proud of. It's looking good so far.

Gill
 

Neil

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Finally got UploadIt to cooperate for long enough to get three images up... ](*,)

Roger,

Your post and Chris' comments re: short grain made me think of the problems I had last year making a curvy chair. Jeez, I can't believe I'm posting this, I swore I wouldn't... :oops: Anyway, I saw a chair at another forum members' house, and decided to make my own to use up some offcuts of pine (just ordinary construction timber like yours, nothing fancy). So here it is:


As I hope you can see, I oriented the grain along the diagonal - maybe this would be better for you if you decide to stick to solid construction rather than Chris' (much better) suggestion of laminating it. This will minimise your end grain and maximise the length of your shortest grain. You could then just join your two pieces on the centreline with a loose tenon or suchlike.

I bet that if Chris looks at these photos, the first thing he will say is that the chair is very weak where the arms join the uprights as I have my shortest grain just in the area which is further weakened by the mortice. Well, I must admit I knew it would be a problem before I started, and I wasn't wrong - all four pieces snapped off at one stage or another... This should really be a post in Workshop Mistakes, shouldn't it? :oops: The problem was exacerbated by the fact that these were my first loose tenons, and I made them an EXACT fit... #-o I think most of the problems were caused when dismantling after a dry fit as it was a struggle to pull the MT joints apart and this put a strain on the uprights.

Now its finished I don't even like it (it should have been painted)... I will never, NEVER, make a chair out of pine again, but I'm glad I made these mistakes with a bunch of offcuts rather than some beautiful hardwood.

Oh, just in case anyone is thinking that the chair wouldn't be strong enough for day-to-day usage... I did sit down heavily on it and I'm no lightweight, but I have to risk Chris' ire :p by admitting that it wasn't made for humans:

He seems happy enough with it!

I hope my embarrassing post will be of some help to you, Roger!

Cheers,
Neil

Alf, can you see why I needed the round spokeshave now? Never got one, mind... :roll:
 

Alf

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Neil":3f1v6vyz said:
Alf, can you see why I needed the round spokeshave now? Never got one, mind... :roll:
I can indeed. But to be honest, if you hadn't revealed all the woes, I'd have just said "ooo, that's nice, Neil". Something to be said for "never explain"... :-$ :wink:

Cheers, Alf
 

Neil

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Alf":2aoediee said:
Something to be said for "never explain"... :-$ :wink:
I'm just too honest, thats my problem :roll: At least theres no chance of the 'client' seeing this post and complaining! :lol:
Neil
 

Chris Knight

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Neil,

That is a great post! I hadn't realised I was such a harsh critic(!) and whilst I might have mentioned a couple of things, I do think your photos and explanations make for an extremely enlightening post for all of us. Also I think you were unlucky to have breakages - in a stronger wood you would have been fine I reckon.

The name will come back to me but I have always been attracted by those chairs that look rather like yours but appear to or do actually fold, with an iron rod at the centre of the two sets of arm/leg pairs.

I don't think the piece does your design justice, it could easily look spectacular in another wood and with some sort of design in the centre hexagon - your coat of arms?
 

Neil

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waterhead37":odde2lrf said:
I hadn't realised I was such a harsh critic(!)
Oops, not what I meant at all - sorry Chris! I just meant that you would spot the problem as one of the forum's most experienced woodworkers :D I must admit that the comment about the cat was a bit cheeky though... :p

I've see the folding chairs that you refer to, I hadn't thought of them in relation to this chair until now. I'm afraid that the design was lifted straight from the photos of the chair belonging to another forum member :oops:
waterhead37":odde2lrf said:
...with some sort of design in the centre hexagon - your coat of arms?
I think I would need some carving lessons first!

Cheers,
Neil
 
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Nice chair Neil

Have to agree with Alf about the never explains point :D
 

RogerS

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Many thanks for all the advice and comments.

For hinges I have three hand made wrought iron black jobbies.

I was proposing to fit three rails so but have a few questions.



Rail A - position 1 looks right but if I am putting a mortice in the two stiles then maybe it will be weak...since the tops of the stiles are already tenoned into the arch.

So would position 2 be better?

The middle rail and brace will be a half-housing joint (I think that's the one I want?). TrevetheTurner...thank you for reminding me about the brace direction!

Fixing tongue and groove. I intend to only glue the two edges of the T&G where they rest on the rebates in the stiles. The rest of the T&G I plan will be nailed in the centre of each T&G board through to the rails and brace to allow for movement. Is that right?

I also plan to lay the T&G as in option B .or is this largely meaningless since the T&G is only being nailed in the centre of each board?



Neil..that's one beautiful chair. What size was the timber that you used for the front curved main frame here
 

Noel

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Roger, to go very briefly OT what do you use to"mark" the images? As in the one above.

Noel
 

Neil

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Roger Sinden":2jqvv3d7 said:
What size was the timber that you used for the front curved main frame
Roger, it was 4 1/2" by 1 1/2" PAR timber, so actual measurement was around 4 1/4" by 1 1/4", although you can never be too sure from my builders providers! :roll:
The diamond in the centre wasn't in the original design which I copied, I had to do this as the 4 1/4" wasn't quite wide enough.
Good luck on the gate, I think it will look fantastic :D

Cheers,
Neil
 

RogerS

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Noel

Easy peazy :wink: if you have Photoshop or similar. I've now developed an easy way of managing and adding images to my posts.

I have open Photoshop (PS) (anyother graphic editing program would do), my little canon scanner plugges in, Fetch (an FTP program that uploads to my homepage) and any browser open.

I import into PS either my line drawings from the Canon or jpegs from my digital camera. PS makes this bit very easy. Then I go to Image and rotate the picture or scan if needed. Crop out all the junk. Change the image size to 600 wide (the vertical proportionally changes to follow), sharpen it up a little 9always recommended after a resampling exercise due to changing the image size, then Save to Web. Go to Fetch, FTP
upload the file to Demon. Go to window 1 of the browser and enter in the path to my image. Check it's there. If it is the copy the URL from the browser window (guaranteed to make the link work) when I am creating my forum message in browser window 2. All in all, to do that takes far shorter than it took me to type this.

The arrow? Cropped the image, then used the brush tool in photoshop (which is why it's a bit fuzzy around the edges).

The I can preview the page, the images should appear...that's when I saw a couple of images were too fuzzy and needed sharpening. That took literally about 40 secs to do.. Go back to the forum window, hit refresh and watch the new sharper picture appear.
 

Noel

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Cheers Roger, thanks for that.

Rgds

Noel
 
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