Child Prison Bars

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Project by Woodchuck4 posted 03-26-2015 03:00 AM 2792 views 5 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So, it all started when we were getting ready to have our 2nd kiddo. The nursery and master bedroom are the only two rooms downstairs; all the other bedrooms are upstairs. The other thing that was upstairs was four giant cut outs that are roughly 4ft x 4ft each. The problem was they overlooked (aka open) to the downstairs which means it would be very easy for a two year old to climb up and well…you get what comes next.

The wife then gave me a to-do list. 1) had to keep the kids safe, and 2) It had to be purdy. So after some doodling on paper we came up with a design she liked. I then mocked up the design in sketchup.

Then, since i’m still very much an amateur wood worker, I began the process of frying my brain of trying to turn all the measurements of the 1 inch wide pieces into how many boards I needed. Somehow I got it figured out and off to the lumberyard I went. I decided to go with hard maple since it was barely anymore than the poplar and I was getting a tougher wood.

I decided everywhere a stick met a square that I would connect them together with a bridle joint in an attempt to add more strength. MANY MANY cuts, and 288 miters later I had all the squares and sticks cut.

20 small squares

16 large squares (sitting on a banquette that I’ve yet to finish :-/)

96 sticks

I glued and cross nailed all the miters and bridle joints to create 4 “panels”. I created all 4 panels to the dimensions of the largest opening. Of course each wall cut out was a different size and not arch was symmetrical.

Once the panels were glued up I cut out the frames and arches that go around the square grid. I then assembled the panels and the front/back frames and put them in the cut outs to set up to ensure they would set up to the size of the cut out (and how out of square they were).

A picture of the bridle joints.

I notched out the two frames to go around the outer sticks so when it was painted it would look like they were one with the frame.

Once they were glued up I was able to pop them in and out as I wanted. After a TON of sanding (because I wanted the bridle joints to disappear once painted) I was ready to paint. Well, after wasting a half of gallon of paint I realized that using a paint sprayer was not going to work. 5” spray pattern and 1” sticks/squares means this guy was left to hand painting. So I hand painted and did a final “mist” coat to give it a nice smooth finish. I then popped them back into their holes and attached them to the cutout with 3” screws (2 per side) into the studs. Finally a little chaulk and touch up paint and you have what you see before you.

I know this is a long post, but I hope that it was an enjoyable read. This was one of the more complex (joint, math, finishing) that I’ve done to date.

-- Nathan, Fort Worth TX

23 comments so far

View Mykos's profile


103 posts in 2880 days

#1 posted 03-26-2015 03:08 AM

Very impressive. The finished panels look flawless.

View robscastle's profile


7880 posts in 3289 days

#2 posted 03-26-2015 08:30 AM

I really think you have sold yourself and talents short.

Why didnt you just nail a few broom handles in the space and then paint them grey!!

Great joint work, fit up and final finish. I dont think an Interior Decorator could have done any better

Also I do not know of any “amateur wood worker” that would also have that many clamps on hand as well!!,

No doubt you built everything in the lounge room as well !!!

Agree with Mykos a most ipmressive project

-- Regards Rob

View SuperCubber's profile


1190 posts in 3369 days

#3 posted 03-26-2015 10:42 AM

That is a fantastic idea, and well executed as well! You’re way more creative than I’ll ever be!

-- Joe | Spartanburg, SC

View michelletwo's profile


2795 posts in 4101 days

#4 posted 03-26-2015 10:57 AM

I doubt I would have even tried this..the joinery alone would have intimidated me! Congrats on your’s quite stunning.

View Joe Weaver's profile

Joe Weaver

547 posts in 4771 days

#5 posted 03-26-2015 12:23 PM

well done, its beautiful

-- Joe, Ga

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3952 days

#6 posted 03-26-2015 12:31 PM

These are very attractive and add so much charater to this room. Nice work.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View J123's profile


363 posts in 3425 days

#7 posted 03-26-2015 01:09 PM

nice execution.

View ohwoodeye's profile


2620 posts in 4238 days

#8 posted 03-26-2015 01:10 PM

Very nice build!

On the tall opening I think I would have left it open and installed a fireman’s pole so they could climb the wall and slide down.

-- "Fine Woodworking" is the name given to a project that takes 3 times longer than normal to finish because you used hand tools instead of power tools. ----Mike, Waukesha, WI

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 3455 days

#9 posted 03-26-2015 02:25 PM

As someone who has a 2.5 year old and a 10 month old, I think the most impressive part is that you found time to do this. Looks great! We have a similar stairway situation and this sure beats my solution of repeatedly telling my daughter to stop standing on the couch.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View mmh's profile


3684 posts in 4807 days

#10 posted 03-26-2015 02:33 PM

Beautifully designed and executed! But, is anything really childproof?!

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View iminmyshop's profile


379 posts in 3079 days

#11 posted 03-26-2015 02:46 PM

I love how you took a problem and responded with a really cool looking creative result.
Nice job


View Woodchuck4's profile


31 posts in 3244 days

#12 posted 03-26-2015 05:26 PM

@Mykos – Thank you sir. I think I put 6 months worth of sanding in 4 weekends on my sander ha.

@robscastle – Thank you for the kind words. I was short 1 broom handle or I would have. Funny you should mention the clamps. You could hear my wife’s eyes rolling when I told her that I needed to go buy more clamps :)

@SuperCubber – Thanks. You wouldn’t believe where that design came from. I actually saw that pattern in a fabric like 2yrs before this project and I took a picture of it thinking to myself, “This would probably look really cool in wood.” The fabric had all the square the same size, but it didn’t look very good for this project so we played with the square sizes until we landed on that.

@michelletwo – I appreciate it. I definitely made my share of mistakes during the build that cause more rework, but I just tell myself it’s more learning opportunities.

@Joe Weaver – Thank you sir.

@helluvawreck – Yeah, my wife says she couldn’t imagine those cut outs without the panels there now. She said she always felt like they felt incomplete in a way.

@JeffinLSMO – I appreciate it sir.

@ohwoodeye – I like that idea. I may have to start dropping subtle hints to the wife.

@BinghamtonEd – It was not easy to get the time by any means. Lots of working late night after the kiddos went to bed.

@mmh – You are correct, I don’t think anything could be child proof. I was really hoping she didn’t see it and think, “OOOOO jungle gym!”

@iminmyshop – Thank you sir. I just hope my wife doesn’t catch on to my trick of finding a way to make any problem being solved by having to build something or spend time in the shop. :)

-- Nathan, Fort Worth TX

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

9891 posts in 3413 days

#13 posted 03-26-2015 05:29 PM

This job looks like it was quite the challenge. You pulled it off very nicely!

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3512 days

#14 posted 03-26-2015 05:48 PM

Now that is what I call – Love,,,,,

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View Mas's profile


72 posts in 3348 days

#15 posted 03-26-2015 09:47 PM

Looks good. I bet your wife loves it, and it will keep the kiddos safe.

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