Introduction: Invisible Baby Gate

Picture of Invisible Baby Gate

A gate for invisible babies? Or a safety gate for the overly design-conscious? You decide.

Here's how I made a transparent child safety gate using timber and acrylic.

(It's very VISIBLE when the gate is closed, i.e. 'in place', as there is a 2" grey timber frame all round. It basically becomes an extension of the steel railing. It's only meant to disappear when the gate is OPEN, by blending into the grey window frame.)

Tools list:
Mitre Saw (Chop Saw)
2 Drills (One for pilot holes and one to drive screws with)

Step 1: Don't Ruin the House!

Picture of Don't Ruin the House!

I mean, I love my kid and all... but I'm not about to ruin my view for him. With openings on two sides and glass windows to the front, how on earth was I gonna fence in the little tot?

I wanted a child safety gate that would be unobtrusive, yet secure. And ultimately removable as well, without leaving any drilled holes in the aluminium window frames nor the stainless steel handrail.

Step 2: Build a Hinged Frame

Picture of Build a Hinged Frame

I won't put any measurements here since this would vary to fit each individual house.

I just built two frames out of nominal 1"x2" lumber (Nyatoh, a local hardwood) with simple butt joints fixed with wood screws. Nothing fancy. These frames aren't super sturdy by themselves, but by adding a 3mm acrylic (perspex) sheet, the acrylic acts as a brace to keep everything square. I just screwed on the acrylic sheet all round to the timber frame at about 15cm(6") intervals.

The inner gate panel was hinged to the outer panel so that the two frames nested one within the other. And I added a magnetic catch so that the gate would stay put in the open position.

All the frames were spray painted a deep grey to match my existing window frames.

Step 3: Installing the Gate Frame

Picture of Installing the Gate Frame

The bottom bar of the outer frame was screwed into the brick kerb at the bottom of the window. I used wall anchors to make sure it was well fastened.

The top of the frame was extended to hook around the edge of the aluminium window frame with a piece of cut-out timber. This held the frame rigidly without needing screws into the aluminium.

Step 4: Make a Latch Panel

Picture of Make a Latch Panel

The gate needed a latch, but there was no where to latch it to! I joined two 1"X2" pieces into a nominal 1"x4" panel. This was spray painted, then drilled to accommodate zip ties to attach it to the stainless steel railing post.

I put some felt padding between the timber pieces and all existing finishes to avoid scratching the finishes over time as the gate is used.

Finally I added a sliding bolt on the gate.

Step 5: Finished Gate

Picture of Finished Gate

I'm quite happy with how this turned out! (And, most importantly, so is the wife)

The gate practically vanishes when it is not in use. There is no difference in the view or the amount of light coming through, and there are no cage bars turning our house into a prison.

I just need to add one more latch around mid-height for better security, and it should be pretty much ready for abuse!


enLethe (author)2017-09-13

I think this is a great construction project, and it's perfectly fine without being marred by decals or other nonsense. Glass railing with metal edging is a perfectly acceptable and visible handrail system in the United States in does often include gates very similar to the one you have built there. It's a great solution for integrating a practical feature into your home that looks like it belongs there. Thanks for sharing.

ucn (author)2017-09-06

Wow, I never would have thought that this mini project would win a prize. Thanks to everyone who voted on it! Maybe the judges looked at my paltry collection of handheld tools and decided I needed some proper stuff!

Meglymoo87 (author)2017-08-02

Muy bien :D

Meglymoo87 (author)Meglymoo872017-08-02

P.S. I could see a lot of pranks happening here. hahaha

bluesdocbob (author)2017-07-24

Great concept but re the ivisible side of thin gs that can create danger as well for a unknowing visitors to the residence I'd be looking foe a fosted glass or evenbetter perspex even a nice faux a stained glass decal effect....

skeeve (author)bluesdocbob2017-07-25

I was confused at first too. It's "invisible" when it's open in that it blends in with the already existing window. When it's closed it's pretty clearly there with the border. It's not at the top of the stairs, it's at the top and to the right, blocking off that room. there's no gate coming from the left of the stairs.

bluesdocbob (author)skeeve2017-07-31

yes but just my idea and few others also yo could add a frosted lines or dots as they do in public building to prevent visiting friends missing it and crashing into it ;)

skeeve (author)bluesdocbob2017-08-01

When the door is shut and in a position where it would be remotely possible to walk into it, it's *very* visible. I has a thick metal bar around it, it looks like there's no door and the wall just continues. Look at the 4th and 6th pictures in the final step. It's "invisible" when it's open because blends in with the window and at that point it would be impossible to walk into it. There's nothing to walk into...

ucn (author)skeeve2017-07-26

Yeah sorry for the confusion. Lemme see if I can make the text clearer.

skeeve (author)ucn2017-07-26

I think the text was pretty clear, but I know I don't always read these exhaustively and kinda skim through the pictures to get the gist. You blended the gate in with the window so well I honestly didn't see it and was trying to figure out if maybe it was some sort of "before/after" picture but then the gate wasn't invisible.. when I figured it out I felt pretty silly. Really cool work!

steven.barnicki (author)2017-07-25

Very nice! I do not see how being transparent is a risk. The normal barrier below the railing is transparent, and the closed gate looks like an extension to the top railing. The open gate is essentially invisible. Nice job.

jeanniel1 (author)2017-07-24

Nice till the stickers cover it all and then it's a family home! Nice new parents touch with the clear plate and design.

noodlesmith (author)2017-07-24

I made a similar one to keep the puppy out of the basement. I made dado cuts in the frame to insert the plexi-glass (trying to drill holes in the plexi-glass may crack the plastic). It works great, and looks and works better than a store bought baby gate. Mine has a simple swinging latch made out of a piece of scrap wood and a bolt and nut to keep it closed. The latch swings onto one side of the banister post.

JoshZ10 (author)2017-07-24

This could also work as a gate for a small dog.

CathyB87 (author)2017-07-23

I like the idea. As for the concerns of people for the acrylic, would it not be possible to etch a nice design on the acrylic, or even use glass paint to give a stained glass look too. Therefore it would not be perfectly clear and those who may not notice, will still see and it will also be a piece of artistic accomplishment as well.....I can see, depending on the location of the stairs, a stained glass unicorn/fish/plants or even a lovely lacey etched boarder around the glass leaving it still somewhat transparent (and leaving the original view 'framed')...

JoshZ10 (author)CathyB872017-07-24

Could even do a defused vinyl. Yes it will make it harder to see out the window when not in use but will not lessen the light coming in. But it will make it clearly visible to those only paying half attention due to maybe looking at a cell phone.

catkinson54 (author)2017-07-23

Just an additional idea. If you wanted to extend the child's range of crawling, the gate could be made so it could have a dual use by making it fit both the way you have it and also make it useful for blocking the stairs, so that the child would have access to the opposite hall. However, I do not know what is down there, so I do not know if the child should be there. I love your gate idea and the fact it is wide and not narrow if you have a premade gate that allows a narrow opening. However, you need to put some decals or flowers on your gate to show it is being used or not for the safety of your baby before you let him down.

ucn (author)catkinson542017-07-24

Great idea!

SirCooksalot (author)2017-07-23

Aw man, I was looking for a diy gate for an invisible baby... whatever, I ended up reading it through anyway and it's a really nice gate. I'm thinking a see-through gate with an invisible baby isn't gonna work, but it's cool.

ucn (author)SirCooksalot2017-07-24

Babies'R'us were fresh out of invisible babies, I'm afraid.

cchen4 (author)2017-07-23

Excellent design and wonderfully executed! Now on my to-do list for when I have kids myself :)

ucn (author)cchen42017-07-23

To Do list:

1. Have kids

2. Wait 18 years...

3. Have free time

osunnybgood (author)ucn2017-07-24

18 years? Ha, that's funny. I'm 64 and still waiting for free time. Sorry dude, it's not an 18 year sentence, it's a lifetime sentence.

WheelsH (author)2017-07-24

Seriously plexi-glass? I was hoping it would be something interesting like a shock collar. Seriously though, nice job it looks good.

Cliffystones (author)2017-07-23

Wow! It looks like it came with the house. As for the "invisibility" problem others have noted, a few stickers on the clear part would help. or just get a Border Collie like I have and the nose prints will do the trick:).

cbed90 (author)2017-07-23

I admit that as a risk manager I look at the world in a slightly different way than most - my wife constantly reminds me of this - a clear gate is a danger that you and your family may become familiar enough to avoid. However, to a guest this could pose a huge risk esp when it's at the top of the stairs! Also, imagine just one example where one person closes the gate and the other doesn't realize that it has been closed. Worse, you thought you'd closed it and your baby is the first to discover that you hadn't. Ascetically its attractive. Risk-wise.....

Cliffystones (author)cbed902017-07-23

Just like sliding glass doors that are too clean. A few stickers of your choosing should help avoid an accident.

ucn (author)cbed902017-07-23

Oh man, don't get me started on Risk Management and Risk Assessment Reports. The way Risk Assessment is legislated here is to force building consultants to sign off on a giant document of 'Residual Risks' (after mitigating as many risks as possible), which is then handed to the developer for safe keeping. Nobody checks this document, nobody approves this document. It's just there so that if anyone gets sued down the road, then we can all point to the document and say, hey, we told you so.

Anyway, the gate is pretty visible in real life when it is locked. It's also pretty high up: a 50mm timber at 1m handrail height is hard to miss. Also, I do have a flat landing at the top of my stairs, just before turning right towards the gate. So you wouldn't fall back down the stairs if you walked into it.

That said, safety is definitely our first priority. (hence the gate!!)

cbed90 (author)ucn2017-07-23

it is atteactive. I can't help myself sometimes! ?

JohnK501 (author)2017-07-23

Just stick on a couple of "baby friendly" decals!

maxhirez (author)2017-07-23

Looks great! May it remain clear of scratches, scuffs and hand and nose prints.

LeeFogle (author)2017-07-23

I agree that it's dangerous. And on the other hand, it wouldn't stay invisible for long if you have a baby or toddler around. They love to get their fingerprints all over everything. lol

ucn (author)LeeFogle2017-07-23

True. I used the remaining acrylic to protect my hardwood coffee table, and within minutes then kid had scratched it up with his cars. Eek.

Strangely, though, my kid has been 100% aware of the solidity of this transparent gate from the first time he saw it in place. He's just 16 months, and he walked up to the gate and just stopped in front of it to call for mama who was on the other side. No pushing or shoving it, nothing!

irunamuk (author)2017-07-23

Gorgeous. I don't know how someone can miss the frame across the top of the acrylic. It would be the equivalent of walking into a stairs handrail. If you're not you should be working in architecture.

ucn (author)irunamuk2017-07-23

Thanks, irunamuk! Yes I am an architect and I did design my own house. baby-proofing it has been a struggle between my dad-side and my design-side! But always safety first. Will post more Instructables soon. I'm working on a couple more things around the house.

obillo (author)2017-07-23

Just seems to me that a non-visible gate can be a danger. Any barrier ought to be visible so people know it's there.

NikyN2 (author)obillo2017-07-23

well, you can see the top and bottom borders when it's closed (so it ain't actually really invisible), plus acrylic is much more resistant to crashes than glass.

now, a glass gate WOULD have been a real danger...

obillo (author)NikyN22017-07-23

Ah--the visible borders should eliminate the risk, which to me was the possibility of expecting the gate to be closed when it wasn't, with a fall as a result.

lovemygti (author)obillo2017-07-23

You can see it when th gate is in place. You can see the frame! Quality work looks brilliant and non obtrusive

ucn (author)lovemygti2017-07-23

That's exactly how it is! Thank you. :)

TimTheWizard (author)obillo2017-07-23

It has a clear frame on it that appears to be at the same level as the hand railing. The "invisible" part is when it folds away and blends into the surrounding wall.

ucn (author)TimTheWizard2017-07-23

Yep. Exactly.

asaadbobby (author)obillo2017-07-23

The frames of the gate is visible.

shallnot (author)obillo2017-07-23

They grey timber frame appears quite visible to me.

sonoma95446 (author)2017-07-23

The people that say the design is dangerous need a signed slip from their parents to continue as they think this is an unsafe site. Hee Hee Hee

dave.vaness.79 (author)2017-07-23

The picture of you invisible baby is just darling. Grown so much in the last 6 months

ucn (author)dave.vaness.792017-07-23

LOL. Indeed. And invisible toddlers running around at crotch height are an absolute pain in the *#£&

rodg46 (author)2017-07-23

That is a quality piece of work which blends nicely in your house, whilst being easily removed later and no damaged fixtures. Great job.

ucn (author)rodg462017-07-23

Thanks. It's what I could manage with simple tools. No quality joinery, but good enough for the purpose.

bill2009 (author)2017-07-23

nicely done. I like the use of zip ties and the way you anchored the top to the other side.

About This Instructable




Bio: Architect, Urban Designer, all-round tinkerer of odds and ends. Small solutions for big city living. Dreaming of lands faraway where garages are big enough to ... More »
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