Wooden Baby Gate

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Project by NewPilgrim posted 03-09-2010 11:10 PM 17400 views 5 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I am quite new with building stuff and have been working on my shop for a few months now building benches, tables, shelves, sliding drawers, etc. But with my one year old now learning how to walk, I figure I better learn to construct a gate for our stairs ASAP, so… now is the time to put my tools to use.

At home, my stairway has pretty good woodwork so I wanted to build a wood gate that would match it, in terms of the basic look and feel. I did not want to buy a modern gate with a modern look.

Oak instead of Hemlock would have been better, but I chose Hemlock because of the cost. Maybe cost shouldn’t have dictated what materials to use. Hmm. But I got some balusters, hand rail and shoe rail with fillets.

I spec’d out the measurements and referenced some photos of gates that I had. I found out my wall was plumb, but the stair post wasn’t and my floor was pretty bad. (Sigh) I heard that every project will have some nice surprises. Ha.

With a hammer, I was going to toe-nail the balusters, but my neighbor buddy said he’d teach me how to make dowel joints instead at his shop. I said, ‘cool, let’s do it.’ He taught me how to use his doweling jig, (Dowel Max) and that went really well. I was glad to have someone teach me this. It was also the first time I had to do a ‘glue-up’ albeit, a tiny glue-up, and using a dumpload of clamps. At the time, I had just three clamps at home. Now, I have over a dozen 3/4’ pipe clamps any many others styles. (I hear I can never have enough, so I am searching Craigslist everyday).

Now after that was completed, I realized I shouldn’t have conditioned, stained and polyurethane’d my wood until I was finished. There was a few scuffs and I foolishly didn’t hide a few balusters that had some tear outs… I should have turned them away from the frontal view (or cut slower). But, so I re-sanded, re-stained, and re-poly’d the whole thing.

Fortunately I just had to attach long wood screws in the hinges which easily grabbed the lath behind the plaster. I thought I was going to have to use toggle bolts. It was a bit of a pain to make sure the gate was level… the darn floor underneath the gate deviated about 1” from one end of the gate to the other.

Lastly, I just ordered a brass ‘cabin hook’ from a marine supply house, which is just like a regular ‘hook and eye latch,’ but has more girth, heavier and looks distressed. A shiny silver or a new brass look would conflict with the wood, I believe.

And so there it is, it works fine and not only I built something, I just built up my confidence for creating things out of wood.


6 comments so far

View Mijohnst's profile


54 posts in 4477 days

#1 posted 03-10-2010 12:46 AM

Wow, very nice… don’t let my wife see that. She’s been asking me to make one of those for years… Good job!

View groovy_man_6's profile


148 posts in 4457 days

#2 posted 03-10-2010 02:20 AM

Dude! that turned out GREAT! I was just about to write to you and ask you how it was coming! Well worth the time spent doweling my friend, don’t you think? What did L think? I can’t believe you resanded it.. CRAZY man, sounds like something I would do.. heh..


View Jonathan's profile


2609 posts in 4508 days

#3 posted 03-10-2010 02:33 AM

Very nice indeed. That looks 10-times more appropriate than something bought from a store!

Sounds like you learned a few things along the way too.

I’m wondering if the roller ball rising off the floor will eventually put undue stress on the plaster and lath?

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View donjoe's profile


1360 posts in 4488 days

#4 posted 03-10-2010 03:31 AM

Looks right in place with the stair raliings. Good job. Have to keep the little one safe.

-- Donnie-- listen to the wood.

View NewPilgrim's profile


24 posts in 4495 days

#5 posted 03-20-2010 10:24 PM

Thanks folks!

Jonathan, that’s a good comment. I am not sure if it will stress the plaster. The gate must be 12-16 lbs. It rises upon the middle and final swing. Hmmm. Good comment.

View Jonathan's profile


2609 posts in 4508 days

#6 posted 03-23-2010 02:15 AM

I wonder if you could put a spring-loaded caster on there that would rebound and make constant contact with the floor, compensating for the elevation?

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

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