How to Make a Gate for a Stockade Fence

A stockade fence is a palisade construction used extensively throughout history as a defensive structure.

Build the Gate Posts

Add a gate to your stockade fence
Today, stockade fences are used as practical and decorative elements of many yards. The fence's defensive features--such as the pointy tips of the planks--remain, although often in a somewhat altered state. Stockade fences are an elegant way of enclosing your yard or garden and protecting your privacy . Installing a gate on a stockade fence is no more difficult than installing any ordinary gate. .

Decide where the gate opening will be. Consider carefully what the gate will be used for (dogs, wheelbarrows, etc.) and, therefore, how wide it will need need to be. Check with utility companies to make sure there are no underground wires or gas lines where you will be digging your post holes.

Purchase new wooden planks if you don't already have excess stockade material. They should match the planks on your fencing. The number of planks will depend on the approximate width of your gate. If the planks you purchased have a different top, cut them to match with a power saw. Use sandpaper to smooth the edges after cutting.

Lay out your planks on a flat surface, side by side, to the width of the gate you are envisioning. If there are spaces between the planks on your fence, replicate this as your lay the planks down. Measure the total width of all the planks on the ground. The exact width of your gate should match the total width of your planks.

Use your measuring tape to mark with the wooden stakes where the inside edges of the two posts will need to be. Be sure that the distance between the posts is 1 inch wider than your gate will be, to allow easy opening.

Use two more wooden stakes to mark where the inside edges of the existing fencing rails are. One side of your 4-by-4s will need to be flush with this rail edge so that you can attach the fencing to the posts. Mark the two other edges of each 4-by-4 post, using the two edges you've already marked. Use chalk, lime or paint to draw a 1-foot circle around your 4-by-4 positions.

Dig a 2 1/2-foot deep hole, with the post-hole digger, in each location. Fill both holes with 6 inches of gravel to keep water away from your posts. Center a 4-by-4 in one hole and fill the hole with concrete, mixed according to directions on the package. Make sure that the post is perfectly vertical and aligned with the inside edge of the fence railings. Repeat the process for the other post. Let dry overnight.

Attach the fence railings to the posts using wood screws.

Build the Gate Frame

Use your measuring tape and power saw to cut two 2-by-4s to the width of the gate. If the planks on your fence go all the way to the ground, decide how much space you want underneath your gate to allow it to swing freely over grass tufts or mounds. Use the power saw to cut a few inches off the bottom of your gate planks to match this free-swinging space. Sand each plank smooth.

Take each plank and mark 6 inches from the bottom and 6 inches below the start of the angle forming the pointy tip at the top of the plank. Measure this distance and subtract 3 inches. Cut two 2-by-4s to match this distance. These are the sides of your frame.

With your 2-by-4s resting on the thin (2-inch) sides, nail one horizontal rail to the top of the two side rails. Nail the other horizontal rail to the bottom of the side rails. This forms the rectangular frame.

Cut another horizontal railing, 3 inches shorter than the first two. Position it halfway up the sides of the rectangle and nail it into place.

Make a diagonal brace for your frame. It will be positioned so that the highest end will be on the same side where the gate will open. On this side, measure from the outside corner at the top of your rectangular frame to the outside corner on the bottom, opposite side.

Cut a 2-by-4 to match this measurement. Lay the brace across the frame and nail it to the frame.

Complete the Gate

Place the planks on the frame so that the marks you made on the top and bottom of each plank line up with the outside of the frame. Make sure they are properly aligned; the angle between the rails and the planks should be exactly 90 degrees. Nail the planks onto the frame.

Install hinges on the gate frame using the screws that came with the hinge. (The hinges should be on the same side as the bottom of your diagonal brace.)

Install the gate latch on the other side of the frame, using the screws that came with the latch kit.

Center the gate in the opening between the posts. Rest the gate on scrap pieces of wood, cinder blocks or similar material so that it is at the proper height (the tops of the planks should match the top of the planks on your fencing). Screw the other side of the hinges into the gate post. Install the other half of the latch on the other post, making sure the two sides line up properly. Tighten the screws all the way.

Remove the material on which the gate is resting and check to make sure the gate is closing and opening properly. Paint or stain it to match the rest of your fencing.

Things You Will Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Wooden stakes
  • Post-hole digger
  • Gravel
  • Bag of concrete
  • 2 4-inch-by-4-inch posts, 2 feet longer than the planks
  • Wooden planks to match your fence
  • 2-inch-by-4-inch boards, length in feet determined by gate dimensions
  • Power saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Power drill
  • Screws
  • Metal gate hinges
  • Metal gate latch


  • Make sure not to position the bottom of the gate too close to the ground. Wood will deteriorate and rot more rapidly due to insects and moisture from the ground.


  • Always wear safety goggles and work gloves when using power equipment.

About the Author

Based in New Jersey, Michelle Raphael has been writing computer and technology articles since 1997. Her work has appeared in “Mac World” magazine and “PC Connections” magazine. Raphael received the George M. Lilly Literary Award in 2000. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from California State University.