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Log Railing Gate

Got a dog? Kids? Need a gate for your log railing?

We live “out”. Although we’re only 12 miles from the center of town, and we do have one neighbor whose house we can see from our deck, our home could be considered remote by some people. As a result, we have frequent wildlife visitors such as bears and an occasional mountain lion and it is nice to know when these ‘guests’ come by for a visit.

Our 4-legged wildlife alarm is a Great Pyrenees. Pyr’s are excellent watch dogs especially if you have livestock. One of the idiosyncrasies of Pyr’s is that they are roamers and require a fence to keep them from wandering off. Our dog loves to keep watch from our deck and spends her nights sleeping on the deck outside our bedroom.

We don’t like keeping the dog tied up (or locked in her kennel) so I needed to figure out a way to keep her on the deck, and a gate was the most obvious answer. As you can see from these pictures, we have a log railing and I wanted to build a gate that blended with our existing railing vs. a commercial metal or plastic gate.

How To DIY

To maintain the look of our existing railing, I needed to peel the bark from some small branches and cut tenons on the ends of the spindles. Bill of materials and tools required for such a project are:

  • Collect or cut branches for your frame and spindles
  • Basic hand tools
  • A drawknife (examples pictured above right)
  • Tenon cutter
  • Hardware – hinges & latch available at any hardware store

If you are unfamiliar with using a drawknife or a tenon cutter, this short video will tell you everything you want to know. Also this page has links to various drawknife and tenon cutter manufacturers and retailers. Click here to learn more about tenon cutters…

The frame

To build the frame, I used a common pine 2×4 for the sides that would align with the logs on either side of the stairs. A 3″ log was used for the top and bottom rails. Large 4″ screws attach the logs to the 2×4 sides.

It isn’t necessary to overdo the joinery on these pieces as the additional spindles and the overall size of the gate does not require it. However, it is a good idea to use a waterproof glue such as Gorilla Glue, which will expand to fill any gaps in your mortise where water might collect and rot the wood.


The hinges and latch can be purchased at any hardware store. I chose a wrought iron barn door type of hardware. Note that the hinge piece that mounts to the support log needed to be bent to accommodate the round log.


I aligned the latch to the gate, marked the location on the railing and drilled a hole to accommodate the slide. This provides a very strong catch that will not be affected by high winds or a dog pawing at the latch. As an added precaution, I mounted the latch on the outside of the gate, opposite the dog’s deck access.


Learn more about quality tenon cutters, click the picture at right for info and pricing.

* Be sure to read my related article about deck building and maintenance, “Planning to build the perfect deck?”