My Mum’s cottage side gate was already desperately in need of replacement before she moved in six years ago. For those six years, I had been promising to make her a new one – I’m a girl who does woodwork! However, in yet another cruel twist of fate, my Mum died and the gate collapsed very soon after. I don’t feel bad, just very sad. I did plenty of other lovely things for her and did have a very long list of other DIY projects needing my attention. So, in what was to prove an emotional roller coaster for me, I made her cottage a new gate she would have loved – hence the heart. The cottage is now available as a romantic and very unique holiday cottage in the Scottish Borders.
So, a sad project for me, but part of me took some comfort in the fact that I could make still make something for my mum even though she’s gone.
Here’s what I did…
The woodwork part of the gate was relatively easy, what took the time was applying the finishes.
- I measured up and ordered the timber from a proper wood yard (not a DIY store). I went to Real Wood Studios, near Ancrum, here in the Scottish Borders. A “proper” wood yard will machine your timber into the dimensions you specify. Give them a “cutting list” of what you need or your overall dimensions. In my case, I wanted to fill a gateway that was 940mm wide by 140mm high with timber planks approx 22 mm thick. I also needed wood for the cross-bracing on the back. We agreed on the wood – larch – and the price – £90 inc. VAT and labour and I was to collect the wood a week later. I went away happy to be getting quality local wood from a small local business.
- I re-used the old gate hardware even though it looked awful – lots of sanding to get the old flaky paint and rust off – they were stronger and off course cheaper than any new ones I might buy so it was worth it. I painted these with two coats of metal primer and two top coats, leaving at least 24 hours in between. I did this while I was waiting for the wood yard to prep my wood so no time wasted.
- I chamfered the edge of each plank with my hand plane and my trusty black and decker workmate – every girl should have one.
- I painted each plank again with one coat of finish (agian – don’t forget the ends) again wait at least 24 hours before applying extra coats. I wanted to use a translucent product rather than paint as the wood was so nice.
- The wood preservative and varnish was £40 and we already had the metal paint – again go to a proper trade place and not B&Q if you want a professional finish. I used “dulux trade exterior weathershield aquatec presevative basecoat” and “dulux trade interior and exterior protective woodsheen” custom tinted in a colour called “lilac haze” which is a pinky purple and certainly more purple in real life than the photos show. The kitchen cupboards in the cottage are painted a dulux heritage pink and my mum loved lavender so I thought it a good colour choice.
- I wanted to add a heart and a round top to make the gate less forbidding and more cottagey and of course, as a memorial to my lovely mum, I laid all the planks out and made card templates for the shapes. I cut half of the heart out of each of the two middle boards using a jigsaw.
- I then let my husband screw the cross bracing boards on the back – he wanted to feel included and “manly” – and use his power tools.
- So, when it was all screwed together, I cut the curve at the top with my jigsaw, it came a out a bit wonky ‘cos we didn’t have the right blade and it was struggling to get through such thick wood – still it adds to the charm.
- Time to offer the gate up to the hole. It was a bit wide and the gate posts were not straight or square so some more hand planing was necessary to get it to fit with about 5mm to spare on each side. The gate may swell when wet and we don’t want it to get stuck like the old one used to.
- Handy husband put the hinges and handle on (more use of his trusty cordless Makita) and hung it up – voilà – one gate. We’ve still to add a bolt and hook/eye to hold it open when needed.
- I put a final coat of finish on – I may yet do another – but the weather has taken a turn for the worse. It is actually more purple in real life than in the photos.
Note: On any timber that you cut after you have applied the preservative/finish – make sure you re-preserve/finish each cut piece again with the same number of coats/time in between as the rest of the gate. This is a bit of a fiddle/ but necessary to prevent your gate rotting especially if you live in a wet climate like we do!