Olly Writes

Woodwork, writing, walks, DIY and more!

Gate Frustrations

Winter often seems to bring an welcome measure of wet weather to the UK and this season so far has been no exception. We had dry days in the autumn but the summer was a near-complete washout. All this rain adds moisture to the air and this can wreak havoc with any timber features of our homes and the need for them to function smoothly.

Gate latch (after bending).

Doors and windows mostly but, today, I want to focus on the tongue and groove gate I made in 2011.

This one has caused me bother since the day it went up. There’s not a lot wrong with the design and the construction is sound. But, having vertical boards on a gate, you really do need to add some form of shelter or protection from the rain above. End-grain (especially on a softwood) is highly susceptible to moisture and that’s what keeps happening here.

Rain water soaks down in to the end-grain (even after three coats of paint) and causes the boards to expand in width. We’re only talking millimetres but, it’s enough to prevent the gate from closing properly; binding against the timber wall post. That’s why I’m quietly laminating something in the workshop that will become a capping piece – more on that another time!

A trimmed but exposed, bare edge.

People then have tendency to force and slam the gate shut, past the vertical 4x2in that now stands in its way. This repeated action bends the latch (top photo), which then prevents the gate from closing correctly and securely.

Women do not understand this simple concept! So, after I’ve planned the edge down, I then need to straighten the latch out (or, bend it the other way). I do this by wedging a flathead screwdriver between the timber and latch before using a G-clamp (for leverage) to pull the steel back in to shape. It works. Until the next time the gate swells…

Wood ripped!

This obviously happened again recently, or else I may not be blogging about it now! If you look carefully at the above photo, you can see where the force and slamming action ripped both securing screws clean out of the timber! Already, I have my doubts as to how long that mid-rails is going to last, with all the damage caused and so close to the end-grain.

I’m fully aware that I need to set about filling in all of these extra gaps and some time and, of course, to repaint these newly exposed surfaces. But again, at this time of year (particularly for the last week, as well), it’s constantly raining. There’s so much moisture in the air that you run the risk of trapping and sealing it within the wood by painting too soon.

Not forgetting the back door!

That’s why our back door (which I made in 2010) is in a similar state – if you can excuse the shoddy paintwork where it hasn’t been planed off… 😳

Even if you’re without a workshop but surrounded by wood, there’s always at least one job that’s going to need doing!

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