Puppy Gate. Deck Style. Anew.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Yeah.  Well.  Ya know.  

How my life goes around here:

I build something, make something, try to make something nice, what-have-you, Mike undoes it.  Heh.

Granted, the puppy gate I originally built was getting warped and wanky so really it was only a matter of time before I had to redo it anyway.  Mike just hurried things tenfold the other day by breaking it is all.

He's putting it up when out of the corner of my eye I see him lean on it, *snap!!*

"Did you just break that?"

"Uh.  Maybe."

warped dog gate for deck
Yeah, it was rough.  Twisty twisty.
Finn might be a bulldozer and a head-first kind of dog, huh, wonder who he gets that from ahem, but somehow, magically, this puppy gate thwarts him.

Kinda like those hahahahaha videos of dogs who sincerely believe the door is closed, hahaha, and folks have to open a nonexistent one before they'll come in.  hahahahaha

Well, ok, no, not like that at all but yes I absolutely am using this gate as a lame excuse to share a video or two of those as omg, hilarious.

But really though, to our amazement the gate does slow Finn's roll, it works impressively well.  He will paw at it occasionally, if Toby the neighbor squeak toy er, dog is out.  You can practically hear the taunting too, this tiny poof of cotton candy on four bitty legs chirping, "whaaat, ya so big, ya think ya so tough, come git me nah nah!"

Although, the hinges are a wee small, sometimes frustratingly tricky to get lined up.  I'd suggest larger lift-off hinges* if you're feeling less than dexterous.

What a great invention, those hinges.  Genius.  It's there then it's not.  Brilliant.

Another issue we've had was that despite subtracting a little width across the stair opening for easy peasy swinging, somehow my math was incorrect.

Eye roll.  Go figure.  Oooh my gosh.  Right?  When is my math ever not wrong?!  I don't see any dates marked on my historical calendar so yup, it's rare to be right.  Utterly embarrassing.

The gate tended to stick or we had to shove it shut to line up the gate hook* or lift, unstick and swing.  Some of that is likely due to using the simplest and least expensive pine 2x2.  Warp City.

Still, the gate functioned, kept the beast monster safely on the deck with us rather than reigning terror upon the land while we lazily a'-lounge.

Oh, update coming soon on that deck, fyi, after all that work I had done!

Right sooo this gate go-around, I sprung for some fancier 2x2 pine, three sticks of four foot length.  OooOoohh!

Yes, true, I know, it's still pine.  But it's clear pine.  That'll be a bit better, yeah?  It's heavier, straighter, just feels rawr, beefier.  It has nicely square razor-sharp corners too.  Faaancy.

This time I cut the corners at forty five degree angles instead of making butt joints like last time.  It definitely feels sturdier for it.

wood supplies for new gate
OooOooohhh, fancier wood!  Oohhh.  With fancy pants angles too!  I cut one stick in half then the angles, then for the other two, trimmed one angle, then cut the second angle and length at the same time.
The more I thought about it afterward, I probably shoulda gotten some pressure treated wood or some 2x2 cedar though Menards doesn't have 2x2 cedar.  I doubt they had pressure treated in that dimension either.  Regardless, pressure treated wood warps too and eh, I didn’t wanna cut and touch and mess with pressure treated so maybe my post-purchase regret is moot.

Along the way, I had a load of second thoughts actually.  Always the way with me..."I could have/should have done it this way," or "this color could probably have been better," or "maybe that product would have been a better choice...."  It's ceaseless, really.  Every. single. project.

Instead of painting the wood as last time, I used an oil-based stain, Varathane's Dark Walnut,* hoping the oil portion of the stain will aid in keeping moisture out of the wood, lessening the chance of warping since this thing is stored in the garage hanging on a wall.  Pipe dream but one can hope.

varathane stain and polyurethane for new dog gate
Love my camera.  Aggravated by it at times too.  Its focusing is whack-a-doo on occasion and I end up with best-of-the-bunch lame a** photos like this.
I also sealed this new gate with two coats (I know, merely two, I was impatient) of outdoor polyurethane,* hoping that would help keep moisture out of the wood too.

That's when I thought, oh, well, maybe I should have just used an oil like tung* or teak* or whatever, or my lovely Watco oil.*  Or maybe used the same stain I used on the deck....all the woulda shoulda coulda's.

But!  But!  I made an accidental money-saving discovery here.  If you have a 2x2, cut it on forty five's several times, back and forth, make little triangles and you don't need to purchase any of those expensive pieces of plastic you're likely to lose anyway.

staining new wood for new puppy gate
See?  DIY paint points or pyramids* or whatever their darn name is.  Handy!
This time too I used 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" corner braces,* hoping they'll strengthen not only the corners but help keep things straighter, squarer, and aligned.  Additionally, I pilot drilled offset holes on either side of each corner, landing screws across the joint from both directions and slapped on some wood glue between.
adding metal corner braces for support
Groovy corner braces there, strengthening the whole shebang up.  Nice, nice.
galvanized screws in corners
Used some a' those spiffy galvanized screws* I had around too.
Yeah!  Sturdy, right?!  Haha, oy dear, I sure hope so, sheesh.

To find the hinge placement, I used the side of the old gate to line things up rather than sit on the deck fussily propping up the new gate and marking the spots as I had last time.  I later discovered though, I hadn't bothered to center the spacing on the new piece.  Doh.  Ah well.

Next, the eye hooks.

spacing the eye hooks in the wood
Ah, see, phone as calculator, hopelessly lost.
The math was killing me, attempting to evenly space them out so I switched to metric and figured it out in a jiffy split instant.  Probably only the second time in my life using it, a bit embarrassed to say.  The first being Jupiter Ascending, all the drawings came to us in metric.

Remember back (aw jeez this will date me) a few decades when we were supposed to switch to metric?  Occasions like this make me wonder why we didn't just darn do it.

Tens.  Everything is in tens.  Easy!

Anywhooo.  Darn math.

Strung up the new gate reusing the same string* despite purchasing a giant spool of the same stuff except in white at the ReStore for five bucks (figured dirt would show too well), pranced outside to locate the right spot to place the gate hook, and voila!!  New puppy gate!  I was proud of myself!

finished new puppy gate for deck
Pre-first grass cutting of the season, please ignore grass.  Also, gate works well to keep dog off deck, haha!  Can you spot him?  He's so weird. Also, loving the concrete rectangle path!!
I guess that's why I was in a bit of a hurry to finish the gate, I so needed a win as last week was not a winner.  Some weeks are like that though, alas.

other view of dog gate with paracord
Tada!  Woot!  Upcoming project:  remove mold from live edge wood piece my mom gave me in the background there.
My math was correct this time on the width of the stair opening/the gate as it has plenty of room to swing with zero impediments!  Whew, I got something right!!

Standing on the deck with Mike, I had pre-set up the new puppy gate before his arrival home, I waved my hand over it a la Vanna White and with bated breath, awaited his response.

Finn at the gate
"Where's that Toby...."
"Baby got what he wanted!" he exclaimed with a big giant gleeful smirk plastered across his face.

Gasp.  Pause.

"Wait, what?!  You broke the other puppy gate on purpose so I'd have to make another one?!"

new pine and paracord dog gate for deck

"Yep!  It worked!"

Becky stares in disbelief, jaw a little ajar.  "That was purposeful?!"

"What?!  It was going to break eventually, eventually we'd need a new one.  I just sped up the process!"  He was so proud of himself.  "It looks great though, you did a great job, babe!  With the corners and stuff, very nice!"

lift off hinge dog gate for deck
Is this getting gratuitous now, all these photos of Finn?  It's always only ever about the Finn ya know.
So that's it, that's what life is like in the Becky-Mike-Finn household folks, in case you ever wondered.  Becky makes, Mike breaks, Finn safely luxuriates.  Heh.

By the way, speaking of the pooches, a while back I had gotten some tags for my keys saying "my dog is home alone," should, morbidly, anything happen while I'm out.  Unfortunately they fell off but I found these recently which you can have engraved.  Done and done!

Mmk, see ya soon!

*The lift-off hinges, gate hooks, Varathane products, tung, teak, and Watco oils, the paint triangles or whatever they're called, the corner braces, galvanized screws, and paracord are Amazon affiliate links.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab for more info.


  1. It's all about how you tell the story...and you do it so well! That's why I subscribed to your emails. You and Mike remind me of a younger version of me and hubby (except I break and he makes). Right now he is outside building a new deck/porch. 16x16 with a roof, and did I mention that he is 100% blind?? Yep, but he had a home building company for 30 years before he lost his sight, so he has skills. Looking forward to the next story. Love the stories :)

    1. Aw gosh, thank you for such a wonderful comment, and the compliments! And thanks too for subscribing! It must be just a general marriage thing then, one makes, one breaks, huh? haha And wow, huge kudos to your husband for not only being out building a new deck/porch, with a roof no less, but being 100% blind! I bow to your husband! Thanks so much for taking the time to write!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful story! Well-said! I appreciate your intention to amaze us! Every single story you share is indeed great!

  3. Love seeing pictures of Finn, keep them coming.


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