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Gate #2

Posted by joeabbott on April 10, 2011

If you’ve been following these posts, you’ve seen a retaining wall going in, a stairway to nowhere built (we were going to build a shed but ran into “technical difficulties”), a path cut across the back of the yard (ok, so Suzy did most of this work), and a small bridge built. Well, time to put in a gate between said stairs and said path.

imageAs usual, this was giving me problems.

If you’d read a previous post I’d written about putting in another gate, you’ll know I’m quite mental about this and somehow manage to find the hard ways to do things. I’m a consummate worrier about all sorts of details and try to build bulletproof structures. As my 3-4 attempts at a design for this second gate eluded me, I stopped by a friend’s office at work to talk about it.

My friend Matt does way more of this stuff than I do, and speaks with confidence of his experiences. We’d previously talked about a project I still need to tackle but, in that conversation, I liked how he listened, asked questions, and offered thoughts, more than just saying, “oh, do this".”

In about 10 minutes in front of the whiteboard I’d sketched out my thoughts for Gate #2, we went through a few other details, he offered suggestions, and when I left, I felt we had something that looked good and would stand up.

The picture to the left is a rough representation of what we left with. For reference, here are the parts included in the picture:

– Black, existing structure (the top step and retaining wall)
– Red, posts
– Green, baseplate
– Yellow, lower stabilizer
– Blue, upper stabilizer

P1020439First, I prepped the stair landing by adding a 4×4 beam between the retaining wall and the top step. This isn’t in the picture but, when I was making final measurements, I felt we need this.

It serves the dual purpose of locking in the gravel and giving me a beam to attach the post sub-assembly (the non-black parts in the picture) to.

Putting in that beam required a bit of digging and cutting away a portion of the top step (to make the beam square to both sides), but was quick to put in.

Then to the shop.

P1020445The “shop” is my garage with my car pulled out for room to work, but it’s light, dry, and I have access to my tools.

Using printouts and measurements from the SketchUp model, I built the colored parts reasonably quickly. See the picture on the right to see how I fared. I have more pictures out on Flickr.

Once this assembly was completed, I dragged it out to the top of the new steps and started excavating. And an excavation it was!

The parts that would be buried (I was just leaving the top of the “green” baseplate exposed) asked for a hole a foot down and nearly a yard across. Then I needed access for leveling and attaching it! That … now that, was a lot of digging.

But, as with all things, you just work at it and soon enough you’re done.

So, I shimmed up the assembly, made sure it was level, and drove a bunch of lag bolts through it and into the step/retaining wall structure.

And then I packed down the dirt around it.

After that I created the path between the “gate” and the bridge, added a couple steps, and called it a day.

imageI enjoy my leisure so I washed up, put on a pair of new hiking shoes I got with my REI rebate, and took a couple mile walk down and back up “the hill” by our house. It felt good to stretch my legs.

And, when I got back I felt guilty for not finishing the gate job and spent another 30 minutes putting in the edging. In the picture to the lower left, you can see it piled up on the hillside behind the left post. Now it’s where it should be: defining the path between the gate and bridge.

Sooner or later I’ll be done with landscaping work but today my labors continue. I’ll add gravel to the path and then start building that actual gate. I have ideas, so stay tuned!


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