There are several reasons why you may need to fit a gate wheel to a timber gate – more than likely the main reason is that when you open your gate, it drags along the floor making it difficult to move freely.

If this is the case, then either your gate has ‘dropped’ or the posts holding the gate in place are not quite strong enough and the weight of the gate is pulling the posts inwards, causing the meeting stiles (vertical upright of the frame work of the gate, opposite the hinge side) to drag along the floor.

If you’re experiencing one of these things, then you will in all likelihood be reducing the lifespan of the gates, as every time the gate drags on the floor, the paint or stain on the bottom edge of the wooden gates is wearing away, allowing water a way in, which in turn can lead to rot.

A well-made gate should last for a long time – at Gate Expectations by Inwood we’re used to hearing that “my old gates are dropping and I’m looking for a replacement”. Whilst a new gate might be the answer, it makes sense to make the best of what you already have.

The good news is we can fix this quite quickly by adding a gate wheel to the gates -this will work for most wooden gates including driveway gates – and I’m here to show you how!

Project Steps

Where to fit the wheel?

In this example I’m fitting the wheel onto just one gate (of a pair of gates).

Ideally, you would fit the wheel to the meeting stile (the meeting stile being the vertical framework of the gates, called meeting stiles – in a pair of gates the two meeting stiles come together in the centre) of the gate in question.

However, in my case, I can either fit the wheel to the front of the gates (which I don’t want to do) or fit it to the rear of the gates a bit further into the gate (away from the meeting stile) as I’ve got a drop-bolt in the way on the rear of the meeting stile. There’s nothing like making things slightly more awkward, is there?!

Do you need a block?

We’ll need only simple tools for this task, as you can see from the list.

However, depending on the gate, you may need a block to take the wheel, as I do.

Make sure that you can cut a block that fits with the meeting stile, and is thick enough to meet the outer edge of the stile.

It’s up to you whether you want to shape it to look nice – the aesthetics will depend on your gate.

Fixing the block to the gate

You can skip a couple of steps if you don’t need to use a block to take the wheel.

I’ve already cut a block and made it in 48mm thick so it will sit hard up against the rear of the boards and also, so it is flush with the framework of the gates.

I’ve used some D4 PVA adhesive on the back of the block and on all edges that will come into contact with the framework – the bottom edge and right hand edge as you look at the block, and placed it into position.

To secure the block: from the front of the gate, I’ve drilled through the face of the gate using a ‘Screwdigger No. 10′ bit’. This is so that rather than fill the holes I can plug them once I’ve finished (it makes a neater job) and then using 1 3/4″ screws screwed through the front of the gate into the block.

Once you’ve done this, wipe any excess glue off from the rear of the gate.

Plugging screw holes

Plugging screw holes

Not sure how to plug the screw holes? You’ll need a Plugcutter No.10 and some scrap timber (ideally, the timber being the same as your gates are made from).

Place the Plugcutter into a Pillar Drill and cut however many plugs you need. Snap these plugs out from the block of wood using a quarter inch chisel, add a bit of glue to the end and tap in with a hammer, remembering to keep the wood grain of the plugs going the same way as the grain in the area of the gates they are positioned in.

They will protrude, so once the glue is dry, chisel off and clean up with sandpaper.

Now you can continue with fitting the wheel itself; however, do remember that once the wheel is fitted and working correctly to fill/plug the screw holes and also to give both the plugs and block we’ve just fitted a coat of paint/stain so that everything matches the rest of your timber gates.

Fixing the wheel to the gate

Grab the wedge and spirit level and slide the wedge under the gate until the gate is sitting level. You’ll have to check your spirit level (sit this on one of the horizontal rails of the gate) for this. You may need to adjust the position of the wedge to get the gate sitting correctly.

Once you’re satisfied the gate is level, get your wheel and place it against the rail/block where you will be positioning it and mark off the two holes for the bolts.

Temporarily fixing the wheel

Now, fitting a gate wheel can be a little bit of trial and error, unless, that is, you’re using a wheel that has adjustment (the wheel I’m using does and is also spring loaded).

So the best thing to do is to make sure you’ve got it in the right place and just screw the wheel to the gate; this is a bit awkward as you’ve not got a lot of space to get the screwdriver in, but it is well worth doing.

To temporarily screw the wheel in place, pre-drill the holes and screw up. As the holes are for bolts, you more than likely have to use a washer on the end of the screws, other wise you’ll find the screw heads will go right the way through the bolt holes, thus defeating the idea!

Check the gate is level

Once you’ve temporarily fixed the wheel, remove the wedge and check the gate for level.

If it has dropped a lot since the wedge was removed, then jack the gate back up on the wedge, but this time, wedge it up higher to take into account how much the gate has dropped; i.e. if the gate has dropped 10mm, then wedge it up 10mm more than it was originally wedged up. This way, once you’ve taken the wedge out it should be sitting level.

If it has dropped ever so slightly and you’ve got adjustment on the wheel, then we are good to go!

Drilling the bolts through the gate

Once you’re happy the gate is level with the wheel in place, remove the screws and we can begin drilling for the bolt holes. The bolts I’m using are M8s, so I’ll need an 8mm drill bit.

We don’t want to drill right the way through the gate though, we need to drill almost all of the way through then go around to the other side of the gate to complete the holes. Therefore, we need to use a drill bit with a spur or point on the end and we also need to use either a depth stop on the drill or make a mark on the drill bit so we know when are nearly though the gate and can stop drilling.

Line your drill up with the holes that you’ve already drilled when we temporarily fixed the wheel and drill through until the point of the drill bit just starts to protrude: do this for both holes.

Finish drilling the bolts

Now with the same drill bit, go around to the other side of the gate and complete the holes; you should just see two small holes where the drill bit has just started to come through. Line your drill bit up on these and continue drilling.

With the holes complete, stay on the same side of the gate and push the two bolts through.

Attach the wheel

With the holes complete, stay on the same side of the gate and push the two bolts through.

Returning to the side of the gate that the wheel will be attached to, line the bolt holes up on the metalwork that is attached to the wheel and slide it home until it is touching the gate. Attach the washer and nut to each bolt and tighten until the domed head of the bolt has pulled slightly into the gate (on the front).

Test the gate wheel

Of course, you won’t want the block (if you needed one) to stand out, so the block should be painted or stained to blend in with the colour of the existing gate.

Release the wedge and swing the gate open; if you’ve done this correctly, then the gate no longer drags on the floor – problem solved!