Gate Hurdle making for beginners (not hazel wattles)

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Re: Gate Hurdle making for beginners (not hazel wattles)

Postby ToneWood » Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:02 pm

The wife had been on a trip with other gardeners to Sussex (& pos. Kent?). Anyway, she took pictures of some mini-gates hurdles (or giant poppies, depending on your perspective) at Sissinghurst Castle in Sussex (I think). Thought you might be interested:
Mini-gate-hurdles.jpg
Mini-gate-hurdles.jpg (105.25 KiB) Viewed 5958 times

There are a few other riven wood & morticed round wood features scattered around too, such as supported posts for espaliered fruit plants (I'm guessing) & a seat.

The gardens look amazing. I think this one is Great Dixter, E. Sussex (nowhere near Little Coxswell or Great Coxswell) - idyllic:
Great Dixter.jpg
Great Dixter.jpg (64.93 KiB) Viewed 5957 times

Good stuff to fill your head with.
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Mortice size??

Postby ToneWood » Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:27 pm

Prototype gate-hurdle.jpg
My prototype hurdle trellis.
Prototype gate-hurdle.jpg (83.34 KiB) Viewed 5951 times

I just looked at my mortices. I reckon they are each v. roughly (and I mean very roughly) 2" long and 20mm wide (i.e. less the an inch but more than half an inch). I'm wondering what size mortice I should be aiming for, for a gate hurdle. I'm thinking maybe a well cut 0.5" x 1.5" or perhaps a bit bigger, maybe 0.75" x 2"?
[Actually I haven't seen any 3/4" mortice chisels, 5/8" seems far more common.]
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Re: Gate Hurdle making for beginners (not hazel wattles)

Postby ToneWood » Wed Jun 20, 2012 12:29 pm

I've reduced the width of the prototype by 18-20" at the wife's request & added the other bars of traditional hurdle design (my son came up with a grid alternative which actually looked better for this trellis application - but the wife preferred this & I'm happy to stick with the tried & tested traditional look).

Gate-hurdle installed.jpg
Gate-hurdle installed.jpg (90.01 KiB) Viewed 5943 times


I'd nailed the mortices, so I had to cut the nails with a cold chisel, to disassemble the original frame, to shorten it. :(
Unfortunately, when I re-nailed the mortices, unknown to me, 2 of the nails did not go through the central spar & instead bent! Consequently those mortice-joints moved out of place during installation :(.

I think it looks quite good though but it would not stand scrutiny from a woodsman, let alone a cabinet maker. I didn't shave the riven wood - as I don't have a shaving brake/horse - and rustic was the look we were aiming for. As birch rots, I'm not going to get too precious about this - I'll aim to make a better one next time. I loved making it, quite hard work. I've gained an increased appreciation of the hurdle-maker/coppicer/woodsman (whose better-made & more refined hurdles would have had to withstand being frequently moved across the hills & meadows).

Quite a lot of plants were removed to install this, which will now need to be re-planted around the hurdle-trellis, which is adjacent to a rose-arch - not really visible in the images.
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Re: Gate Hurdle making for beginners (not hazel wattles)

Postby ToneWood » Mon Jun 25, 2012 4:21 pm

Brian Williamson wrote a v. good post on the details making this sort of mortice joint on the Twibil thread: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1804&start=30 I made several mistakes, so v.interesting to read how it should be done.
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Re: Gate Hurdle making for beginners (not hazel wattles)

Postby ToneWood » Mon Mar 17, 2014 2:11 pm

I remade the above gate-hurdle recently:
1. Replaced the 2 main upright posts with freshly riven sweet chestnut. The old silver birch spikes in the ground were still sound (to my surprised) but my original mortice joints were split-damaged from when I first hammered them in. The new joints are cleaner & stronger.
2. Added a third horizontal rail (to better keep my hypothetical sheep in :D) - this time sweet chestnut, added as the top-bar. And made the whole thing a little smaller. It probably would not keep sheep in still but I prefer the way it looks now.
3. Evened-out some of the most uneven parts of the original hurdle, pulled off loose birch bark & trimmed down the sticking out bits - going for a slightly less rustic look this time. (The shave-horse & froe-brake I made in the meantime certainly helped)
Remade Gate-Hurdle.jpg
Remade Gate-Hurdle.jpg (102.76 KiB) Viewed 5315 times
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