For some reason, nearly all baby gates start at 28-inches wide.  I live in an older home and it has some quirks.  One quirk is that all of our closets have very narrow openings.  I have scoured the internets for a gate that will fit into a 23-inch opening, but the best I could find is one for 26-3/4".  

Many of you may ask, "Why don't you just close the closet door?"  My response is that I would love to just close the door, but the unusual location and construction of the closet makes that difficult.  This particular closet has a high humidity problem and it needs to stay open at all times.  So rather than expose my boy to the uncertain dangers of an unattended shoe rack, I decided to hack an off-the-shelf baby gate.

I have experience with a few different brands of baby-gates. Most of them use the same linear ratcheting mechanism to get the gate to fit snugly into the door-jam. This instructable should be applicable to most linear ratcheting gates because they typically have excess material that can be cut away.

Materials needed:
  • (1) Safety 1st 23" Wood Gate -- $12.99 at local Babies R Us.  The 23" actually refers to height
  • drill
  • 7/32" drill bit
  • replacement hardware
    • (1) 2" aluminum screw post
    • (1) 1-1/4" aluminum screw post
    • (1) 3/4" aluminum screw post
    • (1) 5/8" aluminum screw post
  • screw driver
  • pair of pliers
  • hand-saw
  • pencil
  • roll of masking tape
This project should take about an hour.

Step 1: Disassemble

The gate needs to be disassembled in order to get access to the parts that must be modified.  The linear ratcheting mechanism needs to be removed and broken into its component parts.  The two main panels must also be separated.

Drill out rivets:
  • Lay the gate on a flat table-top, with the flares of the rivet faced up.
  • From below, grab the edge of the flat end of the rivet with the pliers.
  • While holding the rivet to prevent rotation, drill out the flared end of the rivet.  I used a large bit (3/8") for added strength and to make sure it stayed centered over the workpiece, but you may find it just as convenient to use the 7/32" bit for this operation.  Your choice.
  • Be careful not to put too much pressure or else: A) you may spin the rivet instead of drilling the material, or B) you may score the surrounding material by suddenly breaking through.  A sharp drill bit is key.
  • Remove remaining flared material with the pliers and tap the rivet thought the hole.  Be careful of sharp edges.
Remove brackets:
  • Remove (2) top and (2) bottom brackets with a screwdriver.
  • Pull apart panels.
  • Save parts for later reassembly.
You should now have the following pieces:
  • (2) panels
  • upper linear ratcheting mechanism support
  • lower linear ratcheting mechanism support
  • linear ratcheting mechanism clip
  • linear ratcheting mechanism link
  • (4) panel brackets

<p>I am currently trying to make something for one of my doorways. I need a 24 inch wide and 4 to 5 ft high. We don't have air conditioning.I too, need air circulation and to keep the cat out. (fat cat won't jump very high 3 ft would probably do) I have torn apart the same kind of gate but that is as far as I have got. I will try some of your ideas. great job!</p>
<p>I'm impressed, but not very handy - do you have one of these hacked versions you'd part with for a reasonable price?</p>

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