Our History: The Festival Beach Garden Gate

There’s a lot happening in the garden from the physical structures being created to the efforts to educate others about gardening.


Below Daniel, the creator of the garden gate, shares his thoughts on the entrance and tells us more about the composition of the door from a carpentry and artist’s perspective.  Daniel said that in designing the gate, he tried to keep in mind a few factors. He wanted it to be big enough for people to pass through comfortably, but also wanted to keep the costs down and the engineering required from becoming too much.

The rest of this entry is from Daniel –    VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

The door dimensions are 49 3/4 by 99 inches. I chose one inch thickness for the boards to result in two inches overall thickness which is a little more than commercial exterior doors. The wood is Eastern Texas Aromatic Cedar. It was milled by Stephen Wusterhausen at Environmental Mill in Elgin. It is a hardwood with a reputation for stability and weather resistance, is attractive and is grown here in Texas.

I drew different shapes and asked for feedback from various members. Nick liked the semicircle a lot. So it was.

At first it wasn’t to be as tall as it is but the boards were a little longer than I was expecting. In talking with John he said tall is good. I therefore maximized the height.

As for the construction itself, the main slab consists of tongue and grooved 1 x 8 1/2 s edge glued. Then drawn and cut out. The rails and wrap on the other side are laminated with waterproof adhesive to the slab. Any joint within the rails and wrap were biscuit joined. These aspects and screwing as opposed to nails all add together for maximum durability. All bevels were hand planed.

The front (Waller side) was left rough sawn with a passing of coarse sandpaper to remove fibers. The front was to be as simple as possible with the verticality of the boards to emphasize tallness. The rear of the slab had been planed smooth for maximum effectiveness of the glue bonding between the slab and rails.

The window feature is a combination of safety and aesthetics. The safety aspects are to see what’s on the other side during operation and to reduce the wind affect which can be considerable on a big door. The aesthetic is somewhat personal as I’ve always loved the art of Maxfield-Parrish and his enchanting landscapes and characters. I’ve wished I could walk into his paintings and experience such worlds. As I walk up to the gate I see an image through the window. To me it is as a painting and upon opening the door I get to ‘enter the painting’. Alternatively the window is the exact shape and proportion of the door and is placed in a way to give the impression of a tunnel with the window being the far end. This has shades of Alice in Wonderland. Whichever suits your fancy.

How to unlock the door from either side without a key was not immediately apparent. The sliding slab of steel with a hole for the combo lock was chosen.  The large dimension of 3/8 by 2 1/2 inches was chosen for strength over the 2 1/2 gap between the door and post. This large gap serves two purposes.  One is for the lock to have room toflip over and the other is to avoid pinched hands or fingers from a windblown door. There is a threaded rod bolted through the slab with the wooden handles bored out and screwed directly on.

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200The space from the ground to door bottom is 3 inches. Enough to avoid feet from being pinched by a windblown door but close enough for security. I leveled the ground to that 3 inches throughout the entire door swing for the same reason.

All of the wood has been generously coated with an Australian timber oil which is mainly linseed oil with UV screen and some amber coloring to add to the richness of the color and to inhibit graying.

Thanks to Nick and Will for helping dig holes and setting the posts and again to Nick for helping to load up and hanging the door.

The chimes are recycled xylophone bars chosen in a mode I picked out on a keyboard. They’re tied up with recycled guitar strings. I have other notes available if we’d like to change modes sometime.

How long did it take to make it? My involvement was close to 40 hrs of actually doing things plus Nick and Will’s involvement.

That’s the little story of the gate.

Garden Gate