Burcu Avsar and Zach DeSart
The obvious way to define your yard is to put up a fence. The cool way is to forget the fence and just build a gateway — a portal from here to there that implies a change of space without presenting a physical barrier. Materials are readily available — 4 x 4s for the posts, 2 x 6s for the arches and braces, and 1 x 6 stock ripped to width for the remaining pieces. You can use pressure-treated lumber if you can find straight, dry stock — warped wood will just leave you frustrated. We chose cedar as a carpenter-friendly alternative. You can paint it, or simply apply a sealer/stain. If you paint, first use a stain-killing primer/sealer designed for exterior use. When gluing up the arch, use a water-resistant glue and make sure the wood is dry.
You're reading: How to Build a Garden Arbor: Simple DIY Woodworking Project
While you’re in the planning stage, decide whether you’ll plant the posts in the ground, or use post brackets to secure them on concrete blocks, as we did. Our surface-mounted system keeps the arbor in place and uses less wood. But if you plan to tie your Rottweiler to a post when the neighbor’s cat is out, burying the posts is a better option. In fact, if this is the case, you might rethink the fence.
Model designed in Alibre Design Xpress. Get your FREE copy today!
Download the full printable plans and a larger version of this animation.
Making the Arches
The curved top pieces are made of two layers of 2 x 6 segments fastened together with screws and exterior glue. Each layer is half an octagon, rotated 22.5 degrees apart so the segments overlap. To lay out the curved pieces, first make a template of the arch; a stick with a pencil hole bored in one end and a nail driven at the other works as a compass . Cut the mitered segments to length , then temporarily screw the template to each arch set  and trace the curve. After you’ve cut to the curved lines on each piece , screw the template to a layer of segments, spread glue and clamp a second layer to the first. Then drive the screws  and remove the template. Although cedar is soft enough to take a screw without a pilot hole, it’s a good idea to bore clearance holes in the top pieces. This allows the screws to draw the pieces tightly together. When the glue is dry, sand the curved edges smooth.
Assembling the Top
This part is tricky because the arches must be upside down to attach the arch crossties. We solved the problem by clamping 1 x 6s along the tops of two sawhorses so they were parallel to each other and 47 in. apart (the diameter of the arches). Then, we blocked up the arches so their ends were flush with the top surfaces of the 1 x 6s and clamped them in place . With the arches stabilized, screw the crossties to the arch ends . Flip the assembly over and check for square. Use a piece of wood as a spacer when nailing the strips across the arches .
Side Panel Construction
To build perfectly square side panels, we drew the post positions directly on the garage floor . You could also draw on plywood. Nail horizontal lattice strips at the tops and bottoms of the posts, again using a small piece of wood as a spacer . Flip the assembly over and temporarily screw a diagonal strip to the opposite side to keep things square . Add the remaining horizontal strips, and screw the lattice crossties to the tops of the posts. Nail the verticals from the inside, angling the nails so they don’t poke through .
Putting It All Together
Make a template for the curved knees that brace the side corners. Cut the knees from 2 x 6 stock and screw them to the posts and crossties . Clamp the side panels to the arch and screw the arch and lattice crossties together . Then add the beveled rain cap over the arch crosstie. This helps keep water from pooling on the crosstie surfaces. Until the arbor is in place, screw temporary braces across the bottoms of the posts to prevent flexing.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io