HardiePlank siding is a great investment

We bought a plywood house in Portland. It sounds worse than it is. In this temperate climate, houses covered with a single skin of painted plywood are not all that unusual. But what made sense in the 1970s doesn’t make sense in today’s energy-conscious environment, and we bought the house knowing we would be house-wrapping it and covering it in good siding before long. Our windows were all ’70s vintage too–aluminum sliders, with poor sliding action and terrible insulating quality–so replacing those was part of the plan.

I like to do things just once, and I hate maintenance, so we chose excellent Marvin fiberglass windows and HardiPlank siding, both rated to last many decades with almost no care.

What is cool about upgrading a single-skin plywood house like mine is that you can treat the house like new construction with standard plywood sheathing. Pop out the old windows, nail new ones onto the plywood, and then cover everything with house-wrap material and your siding of choice.

I wrote about the window replacement in an earlier blog, so now here is everything you need to know about HardiPlank siding. When it comes to siding, you have three basic choices, a wood product like cedar, which looks beautiful but needs regular painting or sealing to last; vinyl, which looks OK, lasts OK, costs the least, and needs only the occasional power-wash; and cement fiberboard, which lasts forever potentially and can be made to look like any type of shingle or clapboard. I’ve had vinyl before and didn’t like it. It feels cheap and cracks easily and melts when the grill comes too close (dumb move by me).

James Hardie is the leader in the fiber-cement field, so I went with them. Their siding used to have a so-so reputation for rot-resistance in rainy regions like mine, but now they formulate it differently for different climates, so those problems seem to be behind them. Builders also realize that HardiPlank needs an air gap behind it, so they either attach thin wood strips underneath, or this cool new house wrap called HydroGap, which creates its own air gap.

Here’s an important tip: If your siding installer hasn’t done a lot of HardiPlank before, get a new installer. There is a learning curve to this stuff, from the air gaps below to the expansion gaps between and the nails on top.

The HardiePlank website is amazing, by the way, letting you choose your house style, then cover it with whatever siding and trim styles you want, in endless combinations of colors. That’s how we designed our look.

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The other thing we did was choose HardiePlank that was already painted. Most people choose the primed product and have it installed and then painted, but the factory paint job is baked on and rated for 25 years (vs. 8-10 for hand-painted) so I went with that. It cost a few thousand bucks more, about the price of one extra paint job, so it will pay off in the long run.

The trim is real cedar, which we painted. Even though the siding was already that nice pewter grey we wanted, there was lots of stuff to paint grey, like the gutters and eaves! I hired a friend for that high-ladder work–no thanks!

The following pictures tell the rest of the story.

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Here’s the original house with T1-11 plywood siding and old aluminum windows.
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And here’s how the house looks now. We love it! It is quieter inside, better-looking outside, and our AC bill is already lower!
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Notice the shingle-style panels we put up in the peak areas for some subtle flair.

Now here’s how the siding went on, with some important tips along the way.

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Picking up from the window installation, the house wrap goes on, along with flashing over any trim and adhesive tape around the windows. Everything is overlapped so it will shed water, in case some gets below the siding.
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HydroGap housewrap has raised beads on it so the siding can not touch the house, ensuring an air gap behind the siding, and proper drainage of any moisture.
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HardiePlank siding gets a small piece of flashing at every joint.
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It is attached with a special air nailer.
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Nails are driven fully home with a hammer. Seems tedious but it goes quick.
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Every joint needs a small gap so the planks can expand and contract freely.
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The overlap on our clapboard-style siding is 7 in.
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Our siding was pre-painted by the factory, so it requires some extra care, like thin plastic sheets between each piece.
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The fiber-cement product is cut with a special blade, always good side down. A circular saw’s blade spins upward, so the bottom of the board gets the cleanest cut.
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The whole house looks so clean and buttoned up. Pay no attention to the deck and balcony–I’ll be fixing those up in future blogs!
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I even had the guys install a wood trim board for our hot-tub hooks! I also took the opportunity to install new lighting. That’s critical in any remodel. The trim is all cedar wood by the way, which we painted separately.

Easy project: Wall-hung planters

Occasionally we stroll through one of Portland’s upscale grocery chains, on the lookout for a funky gift or an unusual snack. This time it was just before Mother’s Day, and my wife spotted some beautiful wall-hung boxes for succulent plants. “$35 a pop?!” I said (so romantic). “I can make three of those for that!” She has heard this tune before, but she has learned to trust me (mostly!).

I love these challenges. The boxes were just rough cedar boards with a few pieces of galvanized metal inside the front face to hold in the soil and let the plants peek out. So off to the home center I went, with only a few days before the big day. I found the perfect roughsawn cedar boards for the job (sold as fence slats), but couldn’t spot any sheet metal I liked for the front. So I decided to use wire mesh instead, backed by sphagnum moss, hoping it would hold in the soil and look cool. Lucky for me, it worked amazingly.

As for the boxes themselves, they couldn’t be simpler. My only trick was making them 11×11 so two 5-1/2-in.-wide cedar boards would cover the back. A tablesaw or bandsaw would be the best tool for cutting the wide cedar boards into the narrower pieces you’ll need for the sides of the box and the strips on top, but you could also do it with a jigsaw, or a handsaw and elbow grease. For those tools, mark a pencil line to guide you, and clamp down the workpiece on the edge of a table or workbench (vs. trying to hold it by hand).

As for chopping everything to length, I used my miter saw, but a jigsaw or handsaw would work there too. Here’s a low-priced handsaw that is really amazing, available at most home centers. It is a pullsaw, meaning it cuts on the pull stroke, so take the weight off it when you push it forward.

You’ll also notice that I used an air-powered nail gun to assemble the boxes, but a normal hammer and finish nails would work fine. You might want to predrill the top pieces to avoid splitting the wood.

The boxes were done by Mother’s Day, as promised, but not quite ready to hang on the wall. The last important tip is to leave your boxes lying flat for a couple weeks after you build them, to allow the succulents to root before hanging them up sideways. I was nervous when I hung the three planters, but it has been two weeks now and no plants have plummeted to earth!

Oh yeah, you’ll also need a mist bottle. Your boxes will need an occasional spray to keep the plants thriving.

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One roughsawn cedar fence board is enough for each planter.
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After cutting the box pieces to width, I assembled them in minutes with my trusty brad nailer. A hammer and finish nails would also work fine.
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The boxes are 11×11 in., so two full boards should fit nicely across the back (they are 5-1/2 in. wide).
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I oriented the boards so they help hold the box joints together.
Add soil
Potting soil has lots of good fertilizer for happy plants.
Add moss
The next step was a flat layer of sphagnum moss along both sides, leaving an open strip where the plants will go.
Add plants
It was fun arranging the nine little succulent plants in the three boxes I made.
Cut the wire
I used wire mesh with a 1/4-in. grid, cutting it to size with my good snips. A wire cutter would also work.
Nail first strip
The mesh gets tucked under the leaves of the plants and should reach almost to the edges of the box. Then the strips get nailed down to hold it in place. The nails actually go through the mesh.

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Attach hanger wire
To hang the boxes, I screwed little eyelets into the sides (drilling tiny pilot holes first), and then attached picture wire as shown: through the eyelets then wrapped and snipped.
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After leaving the planters face-up for a couple weeks outdoors to let the plants root in the new soil, I found a stud in the wall, drove screws, crossed my fingers and hung the boxes. So far, so good!

 

 

Dust collection made simple

A few years back, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) named wood dust a known carcinogen. That was a big wake-up call for the whole woodworking industry, which answered with a host of practical new products for keeping workshops clean and airways healthy. In an upcoming article in Woodcraft magazine, I offer up a practical approach for dust collection in small workshops. Here are the broad strokes.

Let’s start at the start. In days past, wood dust was simply considered a nuisance, which it definitely is. It doesn’t take long for workshops to pile up with chips and fine dust to migrate from basements and attached garages into living spaces, coating everything in a furry layer.

Allergy sufferers have always known fine dust was the enemy, especially when added to springtime pollen. But we all lived with it, and if folks had dust collectors at all, they were the type with porous cloth bags, which grab the big chips and save you some sweeping, but blast out the most dangerous dust at head height.

By the way, the problem with the finest dust is that it hangs longest in the air, penetrates deepest into lungs and airways, and is the hardest for the body to get rid of.

But that was then. Once the CDC and NIOSH spoke up, people got serious about wood dust. The good news is that new products and new approaches make it easier than ever to bust dust for good.

The secret is collecting it at the source, as it is made, and then having filters that won’t let it escape. You can start with a powerful shop vac. Install a HEPA filter in it and attach the hose to all the portable tools in your shop. You’ll be shocked at how dust-free your random-orbit sander will be with a vac pulling the dust through those holes in the sanding disks. And your sandpaper will last twice or three times longer without all that dust clogging it!

Step two is a true dust collector. If you try attaching a shop vac to big chip producers like a tablesaw or planer, you’ll find it lacks the volume and velocity to pull the chips and dust through the small hose. As for which dust collector to buy, there are amazing cyclone collectors out there, but even the compact ones are over $1,000. For most of us, the practical choice is a single-stage dust collector, like the one pictured here. Those have better filters now too, called cartridge filters. They are pleated, which vastly increases surface area, so you can have finer filtration without hurting airflow and effectiveness.

Pleated cartridge filters are available for almost every old dust collector out there, and available as standard equipment on new ones. Manufacturers like Jet and Grizzly offer them for their collectors, and aftermarket companies like Damn Filters and Wynn Environmental offer retrofits in all sizes.

The tradeoff with fine filters is clogging, which will kill airflow. But there are a number of solutions. For dust collectors, there are internal flappers inside the filter, which knock off the dust caked inside. Better yet, you can blow from the outside in with compressed air.

Shop vacs tends to clog too, but there again, there are solutions. Some fancy vacs have a self-cleaning function, but those work only so-so in my experience. You can buy and use paper bags inside as a pre-filter, but those are pricey throwaway items.

My favorite solution is Oneida’s Dust Deputy, which can be attached to any vac and separates out almost all the dust before it can even reach the vac and its fine filter. Plus the Dust Deputy’s bucket is easer to dump into the trash.

Check out these pics for more of the story, plus some handy accessories that make life easier.

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A two-pronged approach will grab 90% of the dust in your shop. If you have big machines, you need a 1-1/2-hp+ dust collector to grab the big piles of chips they produce. For small portable tools like sanders, a shop vac is perfect. I’ll tell you what that weird white bucket thing is in a moment.
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Connect that shop vac to everything you can. I made this router-table fence with a dust box behind the fence, with a big hole that accepts a handy adaptor on the end of the hose.
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I even attach my shop vac to my miter saw. It is less than perfect, but much better than nothing.
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The great thing about a big dust collector is that it can take multiple hoses, with blast gates that direct the airflow to where it is needed.
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For machines like my planer and bandsaw, I use a long stretch hose and another handy adaptor to quick-connect as needed.
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The other hose is dedicated to my tablesaw, which I use all the time. It’s old so I had to add a dust port to the back. I also put a big plywood box on the side to cover the big hole in the cabinet, and raised the floor inside to bring it up to the level of the port. It collects dust like a mo-fo now.
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The clogging problem. All shop vac filters clog, but especially the fine HEPA filters you should be using. No worries: There is a killer solution.
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This mini-cyclone from Oneida separates out 99% of the dust before it reaches the filter, and its bucket is super-easy to dump. It comes with attachment kit that lets it roll with any vac.
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For your big dust collector, you definitely need a pleated cartridge filter. These are available on new collectors and as retrofits.
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These fine filters clog too, but a blast of compressed air blows off the dust caked inside. You can also rotate the handles up top, which rotates a set of internal flappers for the same purpose.
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And here is a remote dust collector switch from iVac. I love it. It lets me turn on the vac with a handy remote, so I can stay at the tablesaw or any other machine without pausing to walk over and bend down to turn the collector on and off.

Choosing and installing replacement windows

Normally I like to do every last thing I can on my house. It saves money, and I just love the work. However, for the big job of replacing all the windows on my house, plus adding all new siding, I hired out the work to a trusted local contractor. But if you read on, you’ll find out how to choose the right materials and how to keep your contractor honest. You might even learn how to tackle the job yourself.

In an earlier blog, I installed a window in my garage, to give me a nice view and some natural light in my workshop space. So it bothered me a little to just watch the work this time! But it was a wise choice. My contractor has better ladders, more workers, and more know-how, and I just have too much work at the moment. That said, watching it happen, I realize that this is a job a lot of people could do.

In the milder climate of the Pacific Northwest, where I live, a lot of houses were built with just a single skin of exterior-grade plywood. No house wrap, and no siding. That’s the deal on the 1979 fixer-upper we bought in 2015. So adding windows is a little bit different than it is on a house with plywood sheathing plus siding. But not much.

Modern windows have a simple nailing flange all around the outside. You just sit the window in the rough opening, make sure it is level, and nail or screw that flange to the exterior walls. Done. In my case, we could simply nail that flange onto the plywood exterior, wrap everything with house wrap, nail trim boards around the windows, and then nail on our siding of choice, bumping it up against that trim.

For a house with existing siding, you would just need to work around that, cutting it back or removing some of it, or just pulling off the trim boards and replacing them afterward.

The problem on houses like mine is that those window flanges are nailed right onto the studs, and then the T1-11 exterior plywood goes on and covers them up. That meant we had to cut off a strip of that plywood around each window to access those flanges and remove the windows.

A word about choosing windows. We were getting rid of the worst possible windows, made of aluminum, another cheap signature of the era of disco and polyester. Terrible looks and terrible energy efficiency. The usual choice these days is vinyl windows, which used to be considered cheap but have gotten way better of late, with most offering the Energy Star rating. That said I went with Marvin’s Integrity windows, for a variety of good reasons. Made of a special type of fiberglass, they offer the best longterm value on the market.

Building experts agree that Marvin’s fiberglass is super-energy efficient and super durable, meaning it won’t warp or crack like vinyl sometimes does. Also, it expands and contracts very little, just like the glass inside the frames, meaning the seals all around that glass will not fail. And last, its mitered corners are crisp and clean-looking, unlike those melty miters on vinyl windows. Last the Marvin Integrity windows are available in a range of colors, applied in a thick fiberglass layer that promises a lifetime of service.

You could go even higher end, choosing windows clad with wood on the inside, but I’ve got plenty of wood inside my house, and I like the clean looks of the fiberglass interior.

Whichever windows you choose, the KEY to a good installation is making sure the windows are level and square, so they will operate smoothly, and then making sure the window is flashed correctly. Flashing is the overlapping layers of metal, plastic, or rubberized material that go all around the window, under your siding, to catch any water that gets under there, and send it down over the house wrap instead of letting it inside the window frame to cause rot and damage.

Anyway, check out the following pics to see the whole process. Next up will be applying the window trim and all the siding. I’ll do a whole blog to explain our choices on that.

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The first step is to pull out all the interior trim so you can measure the rough openings and buy the right-size windows. We have a lot of wide windows, so we went with sideways sliders.
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Next you need to get access to the nailing flanges on the outside of the windows. On my house, which just has a single layer of painted plywood on it, that meant removing a strip of that plywood all around. On a house with siding, you might need to remove the trim boards around the windows, or some of the siding.
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Once the guys could get at the flanges, they pulled all the nails and the windows came right out.
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To make a level surface for attaching the new windows, we had to nail on strips all around to fill those gaps we created.
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This is when the flashing happens, one of the most CRITICAL steps. It starts at the rough window sill, where an adhesive rubberized material is applied.
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Then, overlapping that bottom piece, the side pieces go on. The idea is the same as it is with shingles: You overlap them so they shed water as it drips down.
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Where he had to cut the material to get it into the inside corners, the contractor applied extra little adhesive pieces to cover the tiny gap.
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Now the new windows could slide right in! That extra flashing at the top will get overlapped by the house wrap, which will cover all the walls later and complete the water-shedding envelope. Trim and siding will come after that.
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Once the windows were shimmed level in their opening, and we made sure they slid and closed easily (a good check for squareness), the guys just drove screws through the flanges and the window was locked in place for life.
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Marvin even supplies little adhesive corners to cover the gaps where the nailing flanges fold outward and create a tiny gap. As I said, the house wrap is coming up next, which will cover all the edges of the window and ensure that water sheds downward not inward.

The joy of a good dovetail jig

Like a lot of woodworkers, I’ve cut dovetails all sorts of ways, slowly by hand with a saw and chisel and a bit quicker by machine with an angled saw blade and a dado set. Till now I’ve thought of dovetail jigs as a compromise: offering quick but clunky-looking results, due to a big fat router bit making the cuts. Also, I had heard they have steep learning curves with lots of fussing. Turns out I was wrong on both counts.

I just finished a big review of dovetail jigs for the next issue of Fine Woodworking magazine, and I’m here to say that the best are really amazing. I can’t give away the winners, but I can show you how these things work, and basically why they are so awesome.

Next week, I’ll show you a cool project you can build with your new dovetail jig, or any dovetail method for that matter.

So as most of you know, there are two basic kinds of dovetails, through-dovetails and half-blind dovetails (used often for drawer fronts, as you can only see the dovetails on one side of the joint). These jigs can cut both in a variety of ways. And thanks to skinnier router bits and variable spacing, the joints they make look very close to hand-cut. In fact, only the purists will know the difference.

What you get in return though is a much faster, more foolproof process. If you’ve ever struggled to make this demanding joint, or been too intimidated to try, a dovetail jig is for you. Here’s how they work, and some of the many advantages.

It starts with how easy they are to set up and use. For a start, they all use a template with fingers on it to guide a bushing that attaches to the bottom of your router base, like this:

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The bushing rides the template fingers and the bit sticks through the bushing to reach down to the wood below.

Let’s say you are going to cut through-dovetails. You always cut these one part at a time on a dovetail jig, first the tails with a dovetail-shaped bit and then the pins board with a straight bit. Both boards attach to the jig vertically.

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On this Leigh jig, the fingers slide and lock in any position, meaning you can vary the spacing of the tails for a hand-cut look. Plus you’ll notice the spaces between the tails are pretty skinny, not really clunky at all.
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Then you just load the other board in the jig and flip the template over to cut perfect pins. Most of these jigs have awesome guidelines built in to help you nail the setup on the first try. 
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Using the tapered fingers on the other side of the template, and a straight bit in the router, you cut the pins, fast and foolproof.
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Imagine getting a fit like this, on stacks of parts. You can go nuts with dovetails!

Half-blind dovetails are different. What’s cool here is that you load both sides of the joint in the jig at once and cut everything in one pass, with a single bit and a single setup.

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The Porter-Cable jig has a deep groove on the template that you just line up with the junction between the two boards. Then you are ready to cut.
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Note how the two boards are offset so you can cut both at once, but then the tabs (tails) on one will line up with the little pockets (spaces between the pins) on the other. Check it out…
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This is how the two parts of the joint fit together.
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A few taps with a rubber mallet…
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… perfection in minutes.

This is just a small taste of what these jigs can do. For the whole story, plus great jigs for every budget, pick up the July/August issue of Fine Woodworking, on newsstands in early June.

 

Japanese-style garden gate, pt. 2

With the gate frame done and the 1/2-in.-thick boards for the lower panel ready to go (go here for part 1 of this project), I was ready to assemble the whole door. Soon my awesome fence would have an awesome gate to keep my dog in! (Go here for the fence project.) That cool-looking upper grid would be too difficult to build before the door was together, so I saved it for later. I had a good plan for how to build it and hold it in place in its upper rectangle of space.

The first step for any glue-up is a dry fit, where you put everything together without glue, so you know all the joints will end up nice and tight and you have the clamps you need to get the job done. So let’s get to it.

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Mine is a big door, 4 ft. wide and 6 ft. tall, so I needed to use threaded connectors to extend my pipe clamps. Those let you use threaded plumbing pipe to make any length of clamp you need, using normal pipe clamp hardware that also screws on. I used the dry fit as an opportunity to rout the 1/4-in. roundovers on the inside corners of the frame. If I tried to do it when the parts were separate, it would be hard to know exactly where the horizontal rails meet the vertical stiles, and where I need to stop and start the roundovers.
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The first step before putting glue in the mortises (lots) and on the tenons (thin coat) was to insert the flat boards into the two lower rails. I popped a nail through the frame and into the top and bottom of each board, just to hold them all roughly in place as they shrink and expand through the seasons. If you really want perfection, you could mill tongues and grooves into the edges of the boards, or shiplap them, so no gaps ever appear later.
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Next I applied glue to all the joints and added the vertical stiles and the top rail, using the clamps to draw the pieces together. The nice thing about Titebond III, other than it being waterproof for outdoor use, is the longer working time it offers (at least 15 minutes) for tricky glue-ups like this one. Another good trick is squirting a bunch of glue into a plastic bowl like this one, so it is easy to brush on. When I’m done I just let the leftover glue harden, flex the bottom of the bowl, and pop it out. 
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Before I made the upper grillwork, I nailed some thin strips into the back of the opening, which will serve to hold the grid in place. Those L-shaped plywood pieces act as temporary stops for these strips, so you know exactly where you are locating them.
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Here is the amazing tablesaw jig that is the key to all the little half-lap joints I needed. As you can see at left, the vertical pieces just need two little notches top and bottom. I did those with the miter gauge, using the rip fence as the stop. But the four long horizontal pieces needed a ton of notches in them, all perfectly spaced. For that I made this little sled that I clamped to the miter gauge. I dadoed an extra strip into the base as shown, as a sort of key. Then, once you cut one notch in a strip, that notch fits over the key, positioning the strip perfectly for the next cut, and ensuring even spacing all the way down the line.
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Because I made all the pieces just the right length, the whole grid dropped right into place, letting me nail some more 1/4 in. strips in front of it to hold it in place. If I ever have to remove it or remake it, I’ll just pry out those strips.
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The finished grid catches the light beautifully. Note that the horizontal strips are 1/16 in. thicker than the horizontals (5/16 vs. 1/4) to create nice shadow lines.
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I love the way the whole thing works together. It will be even nicer when the cedar weathers to a silvery grey, much like the color of the galvanized fence panels. Pay no attention to the upper hinge. The upper rail of the fence got in the way. Perfectly imperfect–that’s what I say.

 

Japanese-style garden gate, pt. 1

When I replaced our old dilapidated wood fence with my own funky blend of wood and galvanized metal, I put a Japanese-style arch over the gate opening, planning to cook up an actual gate in the same style. I’ve learned not to rush the design stage, so I visited the excellent Portland Japanese Garden, took pictures of the gates I found, and also did some digging in Google images.

This gate, with falling ginkgo leaves pierced through the lower panel and a traditional Japanese gridwork pattern up top, is the result.

I’m now a proud owner of a PantoRouter, and I knew that the big, perfect-fitting mortises and tenons it produces would be perfect for my wide gate. Water and weather are hard on gates, and over the years they tend to sag. So I chose 1-1/4-in.-thick cedar for the frame, just thick enough to accommodate sturdy 1/2-in.-thick tenons but not an ounce heavier than it needed to be. I made all of the tenons the full 2 in. long that the PantoRouter allows. You probably don’t have that machine, so just make the the joints any way you know how.

Adding to the strength, I designed the rail widths for a single wide tenon in the two upper rails, and a two-tenon array in the wider bottom rail. A wider bottom rail also just looks good in a big frame-and-panel assembly, grounding it somehow.

All of this adds up to eight deep, thick mortises and tenons, four down each side of this wide door, plenty to keep it square over the years.

The details are up to you

I won’t go through every mortise-and-tenon step, but once you know how to make a big sturdy frame like this, you can design any gate you like.

I my case I filled the lower frame with 1/2-in.-thick cedar boards. Those are lightweight and would be easy to pierce with the ginkgo leaf pattern I had in my head. You can see how I did the leaves below. I didn’t want gaps to appear between the boards over the years, so I fired a brad through the frame into the end of each board, top and bottom. A single brad or finish nail will do in each spot, letting each board shrink and expand without moving around much.

In the next part, I’ll show you how I glued up the gate and made that cool grillwork for the top. It was a real blast working with those tiny pieces.

There’s the beauty, now here’s the how-to:

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I used single tenons in the two top rails.
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The PantoRouter nails the fit with no fiddling.
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I managed to fit two tenons into the lower rails. Again the PantoRouter is awesome, making double mortises and tenons as easily as single ones.

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To accommodate those boards that make up the lower panel, I needed to cut grooves in the vertical frame parts, from the lower mortises to the middle ones. 
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I went 1/4 in. deep with two passes, to get a 1/2 in. deep grooves.
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Bingo.
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The lower and middle rails needed grooves too.
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Bingo bongo.
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I found nice silhouettes of ginkgo leaves on Pinterest, scaled them on my printer, glued them to some cardboard, and cut out these two templates, which are slightly different sizes.
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Then I laid out the boards in their actual array, and played with the templates until I had the falling, windblown array I was going for.
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Enter my trusty jigsaw. To make it around these tight corners and curves, I dropped in my narrowest blade.
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Just drill holes for access, and make a series of cuts to shape each leaf.
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Sandpaper is the great fixer. I wrapped some 80-grit around a dowel to smooth out the bumps and tight curves. I also sanded away the whiskers at the edges. Stay tuned for part 2!