Mini Gate Hurdle – Practical Project

When we first moved to this house the garden was pretty much neglected and, in places verging on derelict. A visiting friend once commented on the fact it also seemed to be plagued with ash saplings springing up in all manner of places. Now ash saplings can be problem in a garden but by the same measure because of their rapid and more or less straight growth habit, they actually make a great material to work with from a green wood perspective. Green wood working is extremely skilful and whilst I’m a mere novice at it, this project is accessible to the first timer.

Here we create a miniature version of the gate hurdle which were used (and still are in some regions) to fold sheep. Traditionally they were made of willow, sweet chestnut and hazel, however ash represents an equally workable and possibly more accessible material.

 

This mini hurdle is ideal for edging vegetable plot borders, flower borders, or for holding back rampant plants that would otherwise block a path or flop over and get trodden on. The design is also scaleable and if you can master this small version then there is nothing to stop you turning your hand to a much larger version by using thicker branches.

In all it will take around 30 minutes to put together for practically no cost at all. I particularly like it because the whittling and riving of the green wood really does mean you get a ‘feel’ for real deal using materials I’ve grown in the garden. It also teaches some basic yet traditional skills used by smallholders & farmers over the centuries.

What you will need

Tools

  • Bow saw
  • Billhook
  • Mallet
  • Hammer
  • Drill with 12mm auger and 1.5mm bit
  • Tape measure

Materials

  • 1 x 40cm x 4cm branch for end posts
  • 6 x 60cm x 2cm branch for cross bars and support struts
  • Panel pins

Step 1

Using the bow saw cut the branches required to make the lengths required for the end post, cross bars and support struts. Use the billhook to trim off any side shoots before cutting the branches to the required length.

Step 2

Take the end post length and split the section in half as described in the riving wood section. Using a sharp knife sharpen one end of each section to a rough point

Riving Wood – This is a relatively simple technique of splitting a length of wood into two roughly equal halves. Place the billhook on the centre of one end of the branch and gently tap it with a mallet. Gradually prise the two halves by twisting the top part of the billhook against the thickest half of the wood whilst gentling tapping the billhook. Don’t push the blade through, instead just apply a steady pressure moving the blade down the length as the wood is being prised open.

Step 3

Using the auger, drill five holes along the length of the two end posts. These should be at 6cm intervals measuring from the top (blunt) end of the end post.

Step 4

Again using the sharp knife (or you may be adept enough with a billhook) sharpen 5 of the cross bars at both ends and insert into one of the end posts. Then add the second end post. A gentle tap with a mallet will create a snug fit

Step 5

Drill pilot holes through the end posts into the ends of each of the cross bars and then panel pin the join. This will help hold the structure in place should the wood shrink.

Step 6

Rive the final cross bar piece using the technique before. Arrange the two halves in a “V” shape on the cross beams and drill and pin into place.

Fairly simple & cheap to make 🙂

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