I’m going to show you how to make a simple timber picket gate in 30 minutes or so. Gate-wise, unless you include hanging a sheet of plywood as a gate, this is the simplest gate you could possibly make as it’s just a legged and braced gate – there are no awkward joints to cut!

Cutting list

The gate I’m making is 3ft high x 2ft 6 wide in old money (or 915mm high x 762mm wide), so if you need something a bit bigger or bit smaller, you’ll have to adjust both the cutting list and any other sizes mentioned below accordingly.

All lengths below are the finished sizes required; if you do pop into your local builder’s merchants or sawmill, add 2″/50mm onto all sizes.


Ledges (horizontal rails) – 2 at 3″ x 2″ x 30″ long planed all round (Planed all round referred to as PAR from here on in)
Uprights or pickets – 7 at 3″ x 1″ x 36″ PAR
Diagonal brace – 1 at 3″ x 1″ x 35″ PAR


Ledges (horizontal rails) – 2 @ 75mm x 50mm x 762mm (PAR)
Uprights (or pickets) – 7@ 75mm x 25mm x 915mm (PAR)
Diagonal brace – 1 @ 75mm x 25mm x (PAR)

* A quick note on PAR, you can usually buy this in softwood from stock at larger builder’s merchants or a local, however if you’re wondering why your 3 inch x 2 inch is not quite 3 inches by 2 inches then that’s because it’s the pre-planed all round sizes (the sawn sizes) that are referred to – usually 3 inches by 2 inches will finish at 2 3/4 inches by 1 3/4 inches

Project Steps

Getting Started

There is a bit of timber cutting to do, but as with most projects you’ll tackle in timber, it’s unavoidable. You can either make use of a mitre saw, if you’re lucky enough to have one, or just go old school and use a handsaw.

  • We’ll begin by cutting the two ledges; these are the two horizontal rails that the front uprights, or pickets, will be fixed to. It’s a simple case of just cutting them square to the required length of 30 inches (762mm).
  • *When cutting any timber, first cut a square cut on one end and then work from this end; in all probability, the end will not be cut square to begin with.
  • Cutting The Pickets

    That was simple enough and now we’ll move on to cutting the pickets of the gate.

  • For the size of gate I’m going to make, we’re going to need 7 of these, so first, cut these square to 36 inches (915mm) long.
  • Again, you can do this either with a hand saw or a chop saw.
  • Finishing Cutting The Pickets

    Next, we’ll get the pickets cut with two 45 degree angles on the top to give them the traditional picket-gate type look.

  • If you’re using a mitre saw for this, it’s simply a case of setting the saw to 45 degrees and then setting a stop on the saw to the required length; you can make a quick stop using a G-Cramp and a scrap of timber in seconds.
  • A quick way of setting the length of the saw/stop up is to just mark the centre (in width) of the pickets as shown and then aim to start your cut from the centre line (this sounds more complex than it is -please see the image).
  • Cut the first 45 degree angle, then rotate the piece of timber over so you can cut the second angle. Repeat this process on all 7 pickets/uprights (or more for a wider gate).
  • That is now the majority of the cutting finished; you’ll have two more cuts to make later, but for now, we’re done!
  • Putting The Picket Gate Together

    To put the gate together we’re going to need a couple of additional tools and bits and bobs -we’ll need the following tools:

    • cordless screwdriver with screwdriver bit (I’m using a Pozidrive) and 4mm
    • drill bit
    • tape measure/rule
    • square
    • D4 timber glue
    • 1 3/4″ screws
  • To start, we’re just going to fix the end two pickets to the ledges, rather than go flat out and fix every one of them.
  • The positions of the rails in the gate I’m making are; 6″ or 150mm from the BOTTOM of the gate to the UNDERSIDE of the bottom rail and again 6″ or 150mm from the TOP of the pointed pickets to the TOP of the top rail.
  • Positioning The Ledges

    We’ll need to mark these lines on the edges of the two pickets; so do this now.

  • Starting with the bottom ledge, position the picket so it is flush with the end of the ledge and the line you’ve just marked meets up with underside of the ledge.
  • This is where it will be fixed; pre-drill two screw holes, remove the ledge and apply glue. Reposition the picket and screw up.
  • Move up to the top ledge and repeat the process, this time keeping the line on the picket to the top of the top ledge.
  • Repeat both stages on the ledge on the opposite side of the gate. You should have something that looks like the picture shown.
  • Positioning The Pickets

    Now, before we start attaching the rest of the pickets, we need to work out the gaps between each picket.

  • To do this, place all the pickets onto the ledge and push them tightly to one side of the gate; they want to be hard up to one of the first pickets we fixed.
  • Now measure the distance between the edge of the last loose picket and the picket that is fixed to the gate, on the opposite side of the gate to where the pickets are.
  • I’ve got a distance of 282mm, so as I have 5 uprights still to fix, I will have 6 spaces in total.
  • Divide 278mm by 6, which gives us 46.3mm; I’m rounding this down to 46mm.
  • What you’ll need to do now is to cut a couple of pieces of timber to 47mm wide to use as spacers – if you’re using more or less uprights, then the measurement of 46mm wide bears no relation to your gate; you will need to work the measurements out as I’ve done above and use these measurements instead – the number of gaps is always one more than the number of loose pickets.
  • A Temporary Fix

    To save marking each and every picket we’re going to fix into the gate we’ll do a little cheat; get a straight piece of timber and fix it to the bottom of the two pickets that are fixed to the ledges, just one screw in each will do for now as this is a temporary ‘fix’ and will be removed once the gate is finished.

  • This temporary timber will just enable us to line all the remaining pickets to the bottom of the gate.
  • Starting from one end of the gate, place the lose packers between the fixed picket and the still loose picket (sit the packers on the ledges), slide the picket down so it touches the temporary piece of timber that we’ve attached to the bottom of the gate.
  • Pre-drill the picket, apply glue under the picket and then securely screw this together. Repeat this for all remaining pickets and you’re just about done.
  • Have a quick check for any glue that is running anywhere; if there is any, remove it with a damp cloth.
  • Adding The Diagonal Brace

    Lastly, we’ll just add the diagonal brace on the back of the gate; this wants to sit at around 45 degrees. It can be less than 45 degrees, but no flatter than 45 degrees as it won’t be doing anything to support the gate. It should also point down to where bottom hinge will be.

  • Lie the gate so the back is facing up and lie the diagonal brace in position; do a quick check with a combination square if you have one, just to make sure it’s sitting around 45 degrees.
  • Get a pencil under the brace and run your pencil along the edge of both ledges.
  • Cut the two lines you’ve just marked with a saw and then replace the brace. Mark the position on all the pickets that it crosses (on both sides of the brace) and then remove the brace and apply glue between the lines you’ve just marked.
  • Replace the brace and pre-drill 2-3 screw holes in total along the length of the brace, through the brace into the pickets; securely screw this together and that’s it, apart from cleaning up any glue that’s leaked out.
  • We've Finished!

    This may not be the most robust gate in the world, but it’s quick solution if you need a simple gate in a hurry for your garden or allotment and you don’t fancy the thought of complicated woodworking joints.