Pig For Victory No.17: Make do and mend a simple gate.

Part of the #wartimegarden effort at Pig Row has been to recycle, reuse, to make do and mend. Anyone who has simple carpentry skills can build something from wood. You just need to draw your plans first and use the right tools, you will have to invest in these but a good hammer, a trusty sharp saw, a tough screwdriver, a tape measure and pencil will be with you for years to come. 

The above shutters were constructed from decking. Decking was an unsustainable fad in the nineties, a product of lazy gardening, lack of green credentials and television gardening shows like Ground Force meant that many people went overboard with decking. In fact it became quiet fashionable to have an outside space that looked more like a ship's poop deck jutting out into the green landscape. At Pig Row we don't judge people who have some decking in their garden but the nineties gave us gardens that were all decking. Decking used well to create seating areas can be a boon to gardeners and families but decking that spills across the entire garden becomes a slippery death trap. However, the nineties decking fad has been our gain as people in their thousands after one too many unwanted splits have torn them up. The wood is often skipped but people who know us, know we don't turn it down. If it isn't rotten then wood should be respected, recycled, reused and that is an ethos that is at the heart of the make do and mend element of this part of our leaflet series. Anything can be reused, material, wood, glass should all be used again in some way through making new products or prudent recycling. The decking we've had has made shelving (the most basic of things that can be done with wood other than burning it to keep warm), the storm shutters (see above) and the gate (see below). We plan to make staging from some of it too. No.17 of the 26 leaflet series will show you the basics of carpentry to make this gate. You can find post construction on many how to You Tube films.

This gate is constructed of decking (we can't give measurements for this as decking sizes change depending on the decade, thicknesses vary too). You will need:

2 x stable door hinges (long 'T' hinges)
1 x gate catch
8 x 3ft (92cm) lengths of reusable decking, cleared of screws or nails
1 x pilot drill bit
30 x 1 1/2 inch (400mm) screws - dependent on thickness of wood
A saw
An electric drill/screwdriver

You need a flat surface to construct your gate. We made ours on the kitchen floor. We laid out 5 palings (the uprights) and left a gap at the top and bottom of the gate the same width as the decking we were using before laying out the cross bars. The width of the gate should be 3 feet (92cm) and the height should be the same. We spaced out the palings before attaching the cross bar. You can do this by eye, it's not hard and this gate doesn't have to be geometrically perfect, it has to be functional. So don't worry too much about it. When you have spaced out the palings on the cross bars, drill two holes for each paling through the cross bar. Use screws to attach the cross bar to the palings, make sure that the cross bar stays in the same place. You can do this by marking on the palings a line with a pencil. Do both the bottom and top cross bars. You now need to cut another bar to create the Z, see the photo above. Do this by laying another piece of decking on the diagonal and using a pencil to mark where you need to cut. Use the straight back edge of the saw to draw a line across to mark where you will saw. Cut off excess wood. Lay onto the back of the gate so it is snug against the cross bars. Drill more pilot holes to fix it to the palings and use the screws. You will need two screws to each paling except the final paling on either side of the gate where you will only have space to use one screw. Remember that this piece of wood stabilises the gate and keeps it square. Now attached your stable hinges and gate latch. You will need to then attach to gate posts but remember to leave a gap beneath the gate. In one afternoon we have new gate made from recycled wood and if you do it too, you will have made do with something destined for the skip and landfill. 

Additional note: just to show that we learn from our mistakes, we want to thank Jon and Darren on our Facebook Page for pointing out the cross brace was the wrong way around. This was an argument on the day and shows less haste means less red face. Here's the gate with the brace the right way round. This exemplifies the wartime spirit, many communities supported each other by sharing skills and knowledge. In a modern era this community skill bank has been lost, and we want to thank everyone who pointed out our mistake. We love to learn, we love to share and we wish the communities we lived in today had more of this spirit. Share your skills with us today and get involved. Pass down your skills to another generation.

Being in a wider community helps, even simple mistakes can be rectified.

You can view more on our #wartimegarden plans on twitter and through the following links: