Who wants to pay 6 bucks or more on appliance latches (each!)? I am sure you agree if you are staring at this page. Spending just a little bit more will yield you not 1, but 8 to 10 appliance latches!
The idea of the store-bought latch is a good one, but many of you will know that they are simply not strong or reliable enough for many children. Since I am a cheap student who always asks "can I build it?" before I buy it, I ventured into inventing a decidedly stronger and more modular appliance latch. These can be used in multiple places and the parts can be found at your local hardware store and/or supermarket. In fact, they work so well that my wife is annoyed that I recommend them as a fix for every little child-proofing need we have. So without further ado...
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- 1 inch wide nylon flat rope
- Snap-fastener kit (1/2in snaps at the minimum)
- Strong-bonding glue sticks (not the temporary craft glue kind)
- High Heat Glue Gun
The materials alone cane be acquired for under $15, but of course it gets more expensive if you don't have the tools.
Step 2: Preparation and Safety
- Make sure you are working on a solid surface when working with the snap-fasteners. Riveting them requires quite a bit of force, but be careful! It is really easy to hit your fingers.
- Your glue gun should be able to switch to a high-heat setting or be high-heat to begin with. This enables a stronger bond. You only want low heat when doing highly temporary holds. Cheap glue guns may be high-heat capable, so don't worry about having to purchase a heavy duty glue gun if you only plan to use it on occasion.
Step 3: Tips and Hints
You may want to choose another glue depending on the surface you glue on. I am aiming for a high-bond, but easy to remove glue that doesn't require scuffing surfaces. Hot glue fits this bill perfectly. However, you may want to consider other options.
Wood: If you are gluing onto some kind of wood, you have the option of putting a small screw through the eye of the stud to increase strength. You could also try an epoxy or crazy glue; however, these methods are more permanent and alter your appliances and furniture. I say "more permanent" because you never know what your child will circumvent.
Shiny Appliances, melamine, laminate, etc.: This stuff is harder to bond to due to a lack of surface for glue to grab. A remedy would be to scuff the surface, but I prefer not to do that. I find that good hot glue lasts almost as long as any other on a smooth surface, plus hot glue is easily removed.
A note on removal: You may want to remove your child-proofing gear someday, so epoxy and crazy glue might be out of the question. It is not easy to remove these without damaging furniture and appliances! Hot glue cleanly peels off most of the time. Also, your child (or an absent-minded friend or parent) might pull too hard a rip off the glue. Hot glue will remove from the studs by just peeling it with your fingers.
Step 4: Down to Business...
1) You probably want to cut your flat rope around 4 inches long. Measure around the corner of each drawer or door you wish to child-proof just to be sure.
2) Take a lighter and lightly melt the ends of the flat rope until it begins to form a nice solid bubble. Be careful, though, because burning for too long will set the rope on fire!
3) Follow the directions on your snap-fastener kit and use the supplied tools to attach the snap cap to both ends of your rope pieces.
4) Do the same with your stud, but do not put any fabric between them. We just need the flat surface of the post.
5) Fasten your completed sockets and studs together. You should have a 1:1 ratio of each.
6) Heat up your glue gun (give it time) and put a healthy dob of glue on the back of one of the riveted stud/posts. You want the glue to creep outside of the stud when you press it down, but not too much.
7) Swiftly and cleanly place and press the snap assembly to one side of your appliance and hold until the glue holds its own (probably only 10-30 seconds).
8) Do the same to the other riveted stud/post and glue it to the other side of your appliance.
Step 5: Further Applications
You need not stop here. There are many more possibilities with extra feet of rope and snaps at your disposal!
- I used these on drawers, but you might want to try fridges, toilet seats, and cupboard doors.
- Cupboard doors may require you fasten a stud on one end of the rope and socket on the other. Wrap them through the handles and presto!
- I also glued the rope to some spare plexiglass to cover the power/reset switch on my computer. The principle is the same with two sockets on both ends of the rope and glued-down studs on the computer case.
- Let me know what you have tried, succeeded, or failed at in the comments below. I'd love to here it.
I dearly hope I've saved you some money, time (maybe), and stress.
P.S. Apologies for missing image notes. Some don't seem to be appearing unless you click on the picture to enlarge.