Introduction: A Better Baby Gate

Why lay down 50 bucks or more for a gate (that has less than a 2' opening), when you can MAKE exactly what you need for next to nothing?

Step 1: A Trip to the Garage...

Project idea:

The goal here is to set your gate to slide in & out of place, vertically, with little effort on your part.

Parts you'll need:

(1) standard wooden/plastic baby gate
(8) boards of equal length and thickness...1x3's, 2x4's, or the like
(*) wood screws, wall anchors, (and possibly) washers and nuts to match
(*) plastic cable-ties

Tools you'll need:

- drill w/bits
- screwdriver
- saw
- wire cutters
- level
- square
- tape measure
- an extra pair of hands?

Step 2: Getting Started...

Scope it out.

I needed our gate placed at the top of our staircase. Placement of your gate may vary.

I took some measurements and planned to keep our kids and dog in place, while allowing for our cats to move about. Your needs may vary here as well.

Note: Watch for baseboard trim, rails, etc., when taking your measurements into account.

WARNING: Do NOT use this approach with babies!

CAUTION: Toddlers will most likely test the gate!

Step 3: Measure Twice. Cut Once.

Once you have your measurements, cut your boards as necessary (and to match). Two of these boards will be fastened to your gate, while the other 6 boards will form the supports or "tracks."

Once your boards are cut, take the two boards that will be mounted on the walls (one on each side of the entryway), and drill 2 counter-sink holes into each -- this will allow for your gate to slide freely within the tracks. Then drill through completely with a bit a little smaller in diameter than the screws you're using.

Note: I am not listing drill bit or screw sizes here, because you may be using screws of a different diameter and length.

Step 4: Assemble the Supports.

Now you want to build your gate supports or "tracks."

To do this, you may need that extra pair of hands...

Screw one board to each side of the wall support, being sure to keep the edges aligned. When complete, you will have two tracks(each being in the shape of a "U").

Step 5: Screw 'em.

With your "U" shaped tracks in hand, you're now ready to mount these supports to the walls of your entryway.

(And here's where it may get a little tricky. Where'd that helper of yours go off to now?)

Using your tape measure, level, and square, align the supports on the walls across from eachother. Using a pencil, trace each support for proper placement (just in case), and then drill through the holes of the supports and into the wall.

If you hit a stud, go ahead and screw the support(s) to the wall. If you miss a stud, set your supports aside and insert the wall anchors...

Once your supports are mounted securely in place, feel free to paint them to match the walls. Just watch that trim...

Step 6: Mod the Gate (part I).

With your tracks securely in place, and painted (or not), it's now time to modify the baby gate.

Take the remaining two boards and mount one to each side of the gate. The alignment matters here as well -- keep the boards even with eachother.

Note: Most gates have some type of "feet," and you may find this to difficult to work with. I kept the feet on our gate and mounted each board over top of them. For the center screw, I actually used a few machine nuts to make up for the missing "foot." Depending on the gate you have, you may need to make some adjustments...

Kitty may or may not be of any help here.

Step 7: Mod the Gate (part II).

Once you have the ends of the gate together, adjust the gate itself (+/-) and slide it down into the tracks.

Triple-check to be sure everything is in alignment before continuing. The gate should be level and the ends should be flush with the inside of each support.

Step 8: Mod the Gate (part III).

With the gate in position, make any final adjustments...and then bind the gate "closed" with the plastic cable-ties, using as many ties as necessary to secure the gate.

Tighten and trim the ties.

Step 9: Try It Out!

Move the gate in and out of the tracks -- the gate should move freely. Adjust as necessary. Some lite sanding may be in order...

Check to be sure the gate and tracks are secure, and that you can't push your way through. Adjust as necessary.

Step 10: What About the Cat?

Ah! I'm glad you asked...

With everything in order, simply lift the gate to the desired height and put a "stop screw" into the bottom of each track.


Step 11: Making a Better Baby Gate...BETTER!

To prevent little ones (or the dog) from lifting the gate on their own, you could fit the top of the tracks with a latch or pin that only an adult can undo.