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How to Build a Wooden Cattle Gate

| Updated September 26, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • 8 – 1-by-8 boards, 10 feet long

  • 17 – 1/2-by-3 inch bolts with nuts and washers

  • 8 – 1/2-by-2 inch bolts with nuts and washers

  • 2 – 1/2-by-6 inch Pintle hook screw and strap hinge sets

  • 6 – 3/8-by-3 inch carriage bolts with nuts and washers

  • Saw – power or hand

  • Drill

  • 1/2- and 3/8-inch wood drill bits

  • Claw hammer

  • Carpenter square

  • Angle square

  • 1/2- and 3/8 inch-box and socket wrenches

  • Small pipe wrench

  • Tape measure

  • Wood preservative

Wooden gates serve several functions on a cattle ranch, such as blocking roads, connecting pastures, and controlling pens and chutes. Cattle are rough on gates as they push against them or use them for scratching posts, but wooden gates hold up well when they are constructed solidly. If a gate is going to span an area longer than 12 feet, a double gate that meets in the middle works better than a single long gate. A single gate is adequate for a span of 10 to 12 feet, with 10-foot gates being the most common size.

Cut one of the 10-foot boards in half to make two 5-foot pieces. Lay the 5-foot pieces on the ground parallel to each other 10 feet apart.

Lay a 10-foot board horizontally across the top ends of the vertical 5-foot pieces and square both corners. Lay a second 10-foot board across the bottom ends of the 5-foot pieces and square the ends to form a rectangle, with the horizontal boards on top of the vertical boards.

Measure between the horizontal boards and lay two more 10 foot boards on top of the vertical 5-foot boards at an even spacing.

Cut a second 10-foot board in half making two 5-foot boards. Lay these boards vertically over both ends of the horizontal boards and perfectly matching the 5-foot boards under them.

Square all four corners, and then drill two half-inch holes, directly above each other and 3 inches apart, centered in each of the four corners. Push a 1/2-by-3 inch bolt, with washers on each end, through the holes, and tighten the nuts hard.

Drill two holes, at the same measurements, through all three layers of boards on both ends of the two horizontal middle boards. Push 1/2-by-3 inch bolts, washers on both ends, through all the holes and tighten them down hard.

Lay a 10-foot board diagonally from the upper right corner of the gate to the lower left corner. Mark the angle needed to fit the diagonal board in tight against the inside edge of the upper end of the vertical board and cut the angle. Repeat for the lower corner.

Drill a hole through the center of the diagonal board where it crosses each horizontal board. Push a 1/2-by-2 inch bolt, a washer on each end, through each hole, and tighten the nuts. Saw off the protruding corners of the diagonal board even with the outside edge of the top and bottom horizontal boards.

Turn the gate over. Cut and bolt on a diagonal board same as the reverse side, only going to the opposite corners, forming an "X." Drill through the center of the "X" where the boards cross, and draw them together using a 1/2-by-3 inch bolt in the same manner as the other bolts.

Attach the strap portions of the hinges to the second and bottom horizontal boards. Place the straps at the end of the boards, horizontally in the center of the board, with the receiver part of the hinge protruding a half-inch out the side of the gate. Drill through the boards at the three holes in each strap, bolt each strap to the gate with three 3/8- by-3 inch carriage bolts.

Stand the gate up on blocks 4 inches above the ground, push the gate against the gate post and mark the post where the receivers on the strap hinges touch the post. Drill 3/8 inch holes into the gate post at the marks for the pintle hook screws.

Screw the pintle hooks into the post by locking the pipe wrench on the hook and spinning the screw in. Stop screwing the pintle hook in when the last screw thread goes into the post and only the smooth part of the hook is out of the post with the hook turned up.

Lift the gate and drop the strap receivers over the pintle hooks. The gate will swing either way on the pintle hinges. Secure the gate to the opposite gate post by wrapping a chain with a snap around the side of the gate and the post.

Paint the gate with two liberal coats of water-protection preservative.


  • This is a job that easier with two people.

    It is better to push the bolts up from the underside of the gate so the nuts can be tightened from the top side.

    The strap portions of the pintle hinges can be attached to either side of the gate because the receiver parts of the hinges will fit onto the hooks from either side.

    Pintle straps have square bolt holes; make sure the square collar on the carriage bolt snugs into the bolt hole.

    Four pieces of 4-by-4 are perfect for blocking under the gate to raise it to the proper level.

    Dimension lumber is sold by green wood measurements prior to drying; when the wood is kiln-dried, it shrinks. A 1-by-8 is actually 3/4-by-7 1/4 inches. Keep this in mind when measuring.


  • Handling a heavy gate by yourself can be done; however, use caution that you do not drop the gate on your feet or strain yourself. Having a helper is advisable.