Sapele Side Gate

This was one of the first woodworking projects I did after we moved to our current property over 20 years ago now. We needed a gate for the side of our house. So I designed this one in Sketchup and made it out of Sapele. There were lots of firsts for me on this project. First time working with hardwood. First time building something from my own design in Sketchup. First time edge jointing and gluing boards together. First time chiseling mortise and tenon joints. First time drawboring. First time making my own beading. First time doing a proper assembly.

Each rail is joined to the stiles by a double mortise and tennon joint, drawbored to the stiles using beech dowels. The panels consist of 7 boards edge glued together and then routed with a V-cutter so they resemble tongue and groove. The bottom beading on each panel is deeper than the side and top beading and is rebated into the panel to just passed the bottom of the V-grooves. That way the rain can run down the panel and over the beading rather than behind the beading. I filled the grain on the panels, but didn't bother on the rails and stiles (well as my wife kept reminding me, "It's just a gate!"). The panels are glued to the beading in the middle only at the top and bottom, so the panel can expand and contract across its width. I allowed 10mm either side for expansion so I hope that's enough.

Initially I tried steam bending the top beading, but it wasn't that successful. It became difficult to fit due to spring back. After two failed attempts, I bought two more boards, edge glued them together and cut the shape out to match the arch, then routed the profile on it.

The posts are pressure treated pine stained to match the gate. Unfortunately, the budget wouldn't stretch to 5" square Sapele posts. I'm just wating for the last coat of finish to dry on a Sapele fence panel that goes to the left of the gate.

All in all, I'm quite pleased with the result considering all the 'firsts' and the fact that it was built on a Black & Decker workmate in the back garden. 

Andy -- Old Chinese proverb say: If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it.


Looks really nice!
I'd be interested how that wood holds up to the weather.

It has been up almost 20 years now and the wood is fine. The drawbored mortise and tenons are still as tight as the day I put them together and it is a heavy gate. In the Spring I'll be sanding it and painting it again. The only thing I would say about sapele is that it does expand and contract quite a bit across the grain, so this time of year the gate tends to stick a little.

Andy -- Old Chinese proverb say: If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it.

thats one beautiful gate brit. i made mine out of mahogany about a year and half ago. it will get a fresh coat of oil come spring.

working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

20 years is awesome, not many woods can take the outdoors without losing it.
That's one classy gate!

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin

Very nice design & build, this Gate looks great. Traditional joinery with pegged M&Ts, floating panel, and after all these years it still looks like new.
That is a sturdy gate and a nice design, great construction. Well done.

Main Street to the Mountains

That's an astonishingly nice gate! Given the cost of sapele around here, it can't have been inexpensive. I use con heart redwood and welded iron, having given up on cheap cedar pickets.

Steven- Random Orbital Nailer

You could have made some nice guitars out of that sapele Andy! Just kidding. Great looking gate. 


Such awesome color in those pics. I really do love sapele. 

Ryan/// ~sigh~ I blew up another bowl. Moke told me "I made the inside bigger than the outside".

Lasting 20 years and still in good shape. That's proof of a solid build!