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Chris JH

15 Nov 2020
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Norfolk, UK
The last thing that I've made is this gate in English oak. The final picture shows the ancient softwood gate that it replaced. The new gate is slightly higher and square at the top, which is intended to stop the local cats from jumping over it! I like cats, but over many years they have damaged the gate as they clawed their way up and over it. The new gate also features a cap to protect the end-grain from water ingress.

I purchased the timber from a Wood Fair at Ickworth House, at National Trust estate near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, UK. The estate sells its timber to the public over 2 days each year and this was the first year I have attended. There was a variety of English timber on offer and I purchased 3 oak boards 2400 x 300 x 25mm and another board that was about 30mm thick and just long enough to make the rails (without thru-tenons!). I already had the oak for the stiles. Originally it was my plan to use 5 oak planks to face the door and to have thru-tenons on the rails plus diagonal braces, but I had to compromise on the rails (haunched tenons, about 12 mm short at each end) and during construction I decided the extra rigidity of the 2 broad facing boards made diagonal braces redundant; time will tell if this was the correct decision.

The frame was the most challenging part of the project with a lot of fettling to get the joints tight, which I managed without any splits. The frame then was checked for square (all good) glued and clamped; the capping piece is not structural and was glued in place at the end with 2 dowels. The boards were screwed to the frame with brass 11/4" No 8 woodscrews, set in deep, then plugged and trimmed flush. After final sanding the gate was treated with OSMO UV 410 Protection Oil clear satin finish. The overall dimensions are 1550 x 905 + cap. Installing the door furniture and hanging the gate was another adventure that took a full day to complete.

This is the most ambitious project I've undertaken for many decades and was very enjoyable. A lot of the work was done using hand tools, including most of the stock preparation and finishing. I hope you agree the new gate is a big improvement, it remains to be seen whether the local cats can raise their game to the new challenge.

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4 Feb 2022
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So... the last thing I made was I suppose the first thing I made.. or at least the first thing I cared about turning out properly and looking reasonably nice as a gift for the gf. Her eyes leaked briefly so either I didn't sand it, the plywood gave off fumes or she liked it. I dunno!

GF: 'So now you're a woodworker do you have things to make a bowl with? I need a yarn bowl'
Me: 'No, we don't have those things. You probably need a lathe...'

A month later, lots of googling, and a few near death experiences for myself and the project...


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