Baby Gate - my first "real" project for the house

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Project by lumberknowledgist posted 01-08-2009 10:28 PM 7193 views 2 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well, our little guy is mobile, and we wanted to keep him confined to the open living room/kitchen area so he is kept in plain sight (and away from the stairs…). I didn’t really want to buy a crappy plastic gate so I sketched a few up and decided to give it a shot. This is my first real woodworking project that has a purpose and ended up in our home.

The gate is constructed of 3/4” red oak using dowels and titebond 2. I used the sweet little doweling jig that my friend Kurt made me, which works awesome for rail and stile type construction like this.





I relieved each edge with a 1/8” roundover bit on the router table, including the top of the stiles which I think gives it a nicer look.


The gate itself slides down into two grooves routed into boards that are attached to the walls on either side of the hallway.


I sanded to 220 and finished it with 3 coats of wipe-on poly to match our wood floors.


I still have to finish plugging the holes that I counter bored with a 3/8” bit on my drill press, but overall the gate is functional, super solid and looks a lot nicer than a throw-away plastic one you’d get at walmart IMO. This is my first project so any feedback is welcome!

-- Jason

6 comments so far

View Dominic Vanacora's profile

Dominic Vanacora

508 posts in 4505 days

#1 posted 01-08-2009 11:01 PM

It would have been much cheaper to buy the store brand one. But yours will also be remember by your friends and family. Your Mon and Dad will be telling their friends, Oh yea he could have just gone out to buy one at Home Depot but he made his own, you should see it, its made of Oak.
Nice project. I can already see your, Son is lucky to have you as his Dad.

-- Dominic, Trinity, Florida...Lets be safe out there.

View McLeanVA's profile


493 posts in 4069 days

#2 posted 01-09-2009 12:01 AM

Jason, what a great idea. I have a son the same age/stage and this is a great inspiration to get to making a gate. I have a question about the jig your friend Kurt made. Where would one acquire a doweling jig like this? It looks pretty darn functional and allows for various spaces between dowels. I’ve been using the eyeball method with varying success. Also, I like the 1/8” roundover. Gives it that kid-friendly finishing touch.

-- Measure, cut, curse, repeat.

View lumberknowledgist's profile


30 posts in 4069 days

#3 posted 01-09-2009 12:42 AM

The jointing jig was inspired by the Joint Genie, which is only sold in the UK and with the conversion rate at the time cost well over $100. I laid it out to my specifications, and my friend Kurt who works at a machine shop made one up for me out of scraps. Here is the original design:

We ended up drilling the holes to 3/8”, and then I ordered case-hardened steel guide bushings and press fit them in, which should last a lot longer than drilling up against the aluminum.

The jig works awesome, holds the bit at 90 degrees to the workpiece, and gives you perfect spacing for drilling multiple holes in a row. I use washers to adjust the offset into the workpiece to vary where the holes fall. I have to get some vice grips or easier clamps to improve the speed of operation, but overall it works great. I am building a small end table with dowel construction that I will post soon. I also think it would work well for face frames since the dowels align things perfectly flush.

There are other doweling jigs out there, but none that I found were as versatile – watch the joint genie video to get an idea of the different things you can do with it. I could ask Kurt if he’d be interested in building another one but im not sure what he’d charge. After ordering the guide bushins from mcmann-carr it did end up costing a bit so it might be worth ordering up a joint genie – i think the rates are a little better now. Only thing is, the joint genie is in metrics i believe…

-- Jason

View McLeanVA's profile


493 posts in 4069 days

#4 posted 01-13-2009 09:26 PM

Thanks for the info and the plans. I’ve never worked with metal before, so it’s foreign in more than one way. You have a great jig there. I’ll keep looking online for a simple dowel guide. I see one on Rockler that is far less fancy, but may suit me well.

-- Measure, cut, curse, repeat.

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4017 days

#5 posted 05-30-2009 03:18 AM

Yeah, you could have just bought one, but this matches the room, has your design aesthetic in it, is built to fit exactly where it goes, vs. something with unattractive ‘adjustable’ hardware, and IMO, nothing beats a conversation piece. I think it looks great. I agree with the roundovers at the end of the styles. I think it would also have looked good if they were all flush, but this gives a little bit of attractive detail there. Nice work. You sure about that ‘first project’ bit?

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View a1Jim's profile


117950 posts in 4212 days

#6 posted 05-30-2009 03:21 AM

Please please let him out I can’t stand it HA HA Nice gate good job


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