Photo of a fence with an old door as the gate

The Impatient Woodworker: Using a Recycled Door as a Fun Gate Idea

We purchased a home in Richmond, Virginia, in the summer of 2012.  It had been recently flipped, but still needed a lot of work and personal touches to make it into our home.  The back yard had been fenced in with chain link around the rear and sides, and an old 6 foot tall, dog-eared vertical panel wood fence on the front.

Photo of dog-eared wood fence

It was in ok shape, a little wobbly, weathered and worn.  The basic design didn't do the curb appeal any favors.  We had two dogs at the time, and still needed a fence, but wanted to open up the look a little, so we went with a shorter fence with horizontal panels.  We wanted a fun entryway as well, and decided to repurpose an old exterior door.  So we headed to our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore and found a 6-lite door.  Next up was demolition.

Photo of fence posts after panels had been removed

For demo we used a sawzall, drill and pry bar.  And of course proper ear, eye, lung and skin protection.  We were able to unscrew the panels from the posts, cut the panels down to smaller size with the sawzall to load in a pickup to take to the dump.  The posts weren't set in concrete, so they easily came up with a bit of wiggling and wriggling.  The next step was putting in the new posts for the new fence.

Photo of fence posts installed in the ground.

We did use quick setting post concrete for the new posts to make them a bit stronger.  It's a fairly simple process by filling up the post hole with a certain amount of water indicated on the bag, then dumping the concrete in and letting it harden over time.  You can see in the photo above that we planned out for the door frame by screwing two pieces of wood near the top and bottom to keep it the same width apart as we leveled and placed the posts in the holes.  You can also use 2x4s as supports to keep the posts upright and level as the concrete sets.  The design of the fence itself was fairly simple and we just used 1x6 boards horizontally, with an inch of space between each.  You can use scraps of wood for spacers to ensure the same space between each line of boards.

Photo of garden gate using an old exterior door for the gate

We decided we didn't want any glass remaining in the door for cleaning purposes as well as the chance of any random objects being thrown around that may break it.  We placed a thick tarp under the door, and broke the glass out.  Some was left at the edges, so we scraped those out.  Your door may have tempered or non-tempered glass, but either way be very careful when doing this.  A face shield and heavy gloves are recommended.  For the header of the door frame, we just used some 2x6 boards bolted to the posts with a 45 degree angle cut off on the bottom for a little decoration.  Again, fairly simple and not a lot of experience is needed. We used regular door hinges, and did not route out space for the hinge in the post - we just screwed it directly to the post as a flush fit is not needed.  We also were not going to use the latch in the door handle, so we did not need to cut out any space or install strike plates.  You will need to unscrew the door knob, remove the latch, and screw the knob back on.  Feel free to caulk or foam any holes to keep bugs from making a home in your door.  The door was a fun red color, but you can paint it any color or add decorations to your heart's content.  For the threshold, we used another 4x4 post with the edges sanded round.

Photo of fence with exterior door gate

You can see the fence progressing, we just screwed the panels directly to the post, put in spacers, then added the next panel.  For any posts where two fence panels will meet on a longer stretch of fence, just leave half the post open so you can screw two boards side by side.  We eventually filled in the left side of the fence, the bottom boards, added a top rail, and stained the fence a darker color for protection and style.  Our next project was tackling the yard to get some grass to grow.  The front yard used to hold an old magnolia tree, which was cut down before we bought the house.  Our magnolia scented candle would have been a great replacement for that wonderful smell though.  We ended up taking many trips to pick up some new topsoil in my truck to get fescue grass growing.  We were successful, but it led to a new issue - mowing the lawn.  I enjoy mowing the lawn.  The scent of fresh cut grass, like our fresh cut grass candle is amazing, plus being able to get out in the sun for an hour to relax is a great feeling.

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