Help with selecting Iroko for garden gate

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DiyAddict

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My old garden gates are rotten, and beyond the point of patching up, so I'd like to make some new ones, with the same overall design.

I've often heard Iroko mentioned as the material of choice for exterior joinery, and I've come across a few online dealers that will plane to size, and even supply Tongue & Groove, such as TimberSource.

But it's all very expensive. I want to make sure I don't do something stupid while ordering, so I'd really appreciate any help. My intention is to use a suitable wood that I can leave unpainted, and oil it as needed.

  1. Would Iroko be the best choice, or are there other more suitable species?
  2. Can anyone recommend a good supplier to a hobbyist? I live near Bristol.
  3. Should I order planed or sawn? I have a Makita 2012N thicknesser so could do it myself, but would save a lot of time if it was already to size (and the Makita does tend to snipe a little).
  4. The thickest stock in the design would be 52mm finished. Should I order this thickness (or thicker if sawn), or would I be better off laminating with two pieces of half thickness.
  5. How worried should I be about the supplier delivering warped boards?
  6. I've heard that the rails, stiles and braces should be quarter-sawn. If so, am I likely to find a supplier who would provide these?
  7. If ordering sawn timber, how much over the finished thickness should I allow?
I've built smaller gates before out of pine, this this would be my first proper gate project with hardwoods. I've done a CAD design so I know all my finished lengths & widths:

design.jpg


Help to any of these questions would be much appreciated, Paul
 
your plan is sound I think but I'd guess your costs would be near £1000 on timber alone( maybe more)
are your posts OK to take the considerable extra weight of iroko. do you have decent dust extraction as iroko is pretty unpleasant. you could spend over £100 just on sikkens. as always start with the hinges and latches and workbackwards.
I'm a huge fan on painted red deal for stuff like this. paint it before the boards go in. maybe 1/8th the price.
 
definitely don't laminate full exposure stuff like this. I'm also thinking accoya/ tricoya would work well and not involve huge heavy hard baulks.
 
1. From my experience it’s a good timber to use for outdoors, I use it in abundance outside for all manner of joinery.

2. It’s a common timber so all serious players will carry 1” through to 4” with little issue, I guess it’ll come down to current availability and price for you

3. That’s down to what you have at your disposal machines wise, rough sawn will be cheaper but Iroko can be as hard as nails (apologies i have no idea what a Makita 2012 is) time vs timber!!!!

4. 52 is a bit in limbo land on the size front as 2” will come in at 55-56 so your rough sawn would have to be lovely and flat (never really happens but you never know) to finish at 52, going thicker (3” common sizing) will cost more either as rough sawn or PAR down to your requested size. Laminating is simply not ideal.

5. I would only be worried if you went down the PAR finished size route and it was warped, but a decent supplier wouldn’t do that, and if your machining yourself as long as it’s not crazy wild it’ll be fine

6. I wouldn’t get hung up on that

7. General rule I have always used for your average 2 metre length is 3/8”, shorter you can afford to go much less, longer and it could be much much more. Always have a little look at what you’re playing with trying not to be too scientific with it at the same time, some boards can have 20mm deflection over a metre so it’s a case of paying attention when the piece is in your hands.

Hope this helps, I would stress that it’s a fairly unforgiving timber from start to finish and the dust is pretty nasty, but it lasts really well outside, can be left to it’s own devises and it’s (on the whole) a stable timber throughout the seasons.

Keep water traps away from your design, and allow for plenty of expansion with your T&G, that can be a pipper.
 
If you are going to paint it, stick with redwood.
It's only a gate, nothing needs to be quarter sawn
 
Depends on how old you are and the machinery at your disposal.
Iroko will last but suggest not for the reasons others have given.
Redwood is easy & pleasant to use & can be painted.
Personally I would use larch as I can get it, it is pleasant to use & more durable than redwood.
It would probably outlast me......
There may not be a source near you tho.
You may also wish to use FSC timber. It could give you a small, self righteous glow......... unlike most Iroko
 
These comments are super-useful. Thank you!

Just to be clear, I don't want to paint it. I wan't to let it go silver and occasionally replenish it with teak oil or similar.

The house already has quite a bit of painted external joinery, and I'm getting too old for it!
 
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Buy a cheap planer/thicknesser second hand then you have complete control over any wood you buy .You are at the mercy of additional service charges otherwise. Iroko is very durable but a bit brittle and needs dust extraction .The dust hangs in the air like pepper !
Adjust your dimensions to suit the timber as you will most likely have to buy a mixture of 1"and 2" boards.
 
are your posts OK to take the considerable extra weight of iroko
I hadn't though of that - good question! I assume they are - they're 20" x 20" brick posts, around 6' tall. I don't know what the foundations are like though:
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The hinge points are anchored between layers of bricks, and the horizontal component is 3/4" thick:
IMG_1594s.jpg

They seem rock-solid, so I'd like to keep them and just get new double-strap hinges. I haven't been able to locate any double-strap hinges for 2" stock though - they all seem to be for 3" field gates.
 
Hope this helps
It helps immensely! Thanks for taking the trouble to answer all of my questions.
Keep water traps away from your design, and allow for plenty of expansion with your T&G, that can be a pipper.
There is an obvious water trap - the trellis joinery into the middle rail:
waterTrap.jpg

This is how the original gate was joined, and most of the rot is in the middle rail because of it, I suspect. I'm not sure how to improve it - maybe use a small dowel or domino? Or even just pin it with a stainless steel nail from an 18g nailer without any joinery?

Re. expansion - this constantly catches me out. No matter how much I leave with pine, it always expands more. What would you recommend for 4" wide iroko T & G?
 
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I'm also thinking accoya/ tricoya would work well and not involve huge heavy hard baulks.
I'll look into these. Would they be suitable to leave uncoated?
Chestnut, if you can get it.
Ah - there is a place nearby - Wentwood - that usually has some rough sawn local sweet chestnut. It would be nice to use UK wood. I've emailed them, so we'll see how they respond.
 
Depends on how old you are and the machinery at your disposal.
Ah - that's the crux of the matter! Once built, I don't want to make another one! Without giving too much away, I'd like it to last 30 years with minimal maintenance.

I have decent quality DIY machinery - a Makita brick-type thicknesser, Dewalt Mitre & table saws, half-decent router table and a huge Meddings pillar drill. From what everyone's said about iroko, I think I'd be changing the blades on the Makita several times, and my dust extraction is just ok.
Personally I would use larch as I can get it, it is pleasant to use & more durable than redwood.
Assuming I could find a supplier, can larch be left uncoated to go silver?
You may also wish to use FSC timber. It could give you a small, self righteous glow......... unlike most Iroko
I do like to glow self-righteously. Thanks for mentioning this.
 
Adjust your dimensions to suit the timber as you will most likely have to buy a mixture of 1"and 2" boards.
The original constraint on stock thickness was caused by the double-strap hinges. But I'm having trouble sourcing new hinges with a gap less than 3". I'm now thinking of just using single-strap hinges. That would at least allow me to adjust to suit the timber.
 
The original constraint on stock thickness was caused by the double-strap hinges. But I'm having trouble sourcing new hinges with a gap less than 3". I'm now thinking of just using single-strap hinges. That would at least allow me to adjust to suit the timber.
The existing hinges look like they could be recycled ? If they are 3" between the leaves I would laminate 1" and 2" boards with waterproof glue of course. With
Garden gates you are allowed a little artistic licence.
 
a really cheap way to make a very durable gate is to use pressure treated stuff. say three inch posts for your stiles and rails thinned down or whatever combinations available. don't fret about planing off the treatment. the knots can be dreadful to. but as a material even with 3 or 4 mm planed off it does last. just allow it to dry properly as it's often wet as an otters pocket.
 
btw I'm not trying to put you off using iroko just suggesting alternatives that would be easier to work with if using less than industrial gear.
 
......you could let it go silver, oil it with Jacob's BLO & preservative or paint with oil paint to fit in with the rest of your colour scheme. Laminating wood for gates seems a recipe for uture work to me, unless done very carefully & protected.
I would be interested in what you choose & how you get on.......... & why......
That to me is the interesting bit about this site.....why.....& popcorn may ...or not be needed.
 
Up here in Scotland larch is a common outdoor timber (mostly cladding) and often left to go silver. I’m about to remake a small gate for the second time after my first pressure treated version rotted (got 20y painted), considering larch but I do have a big pile of pressure treated softwood left by some builders…
 

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