Intro: Finding Inspiration to Make a Pet Gate (for a Doorless Frame)




Introduction: Intro: Finding Inspiration to Make a Pet Gate (for a Doorless Frame)

Son of a Gun! After almost ten years why didn't I think of this before? That's not entirely true. I did, but I just didn't think it possible. The thoughts were always: "It's too hard. I don't have the tools. I don't know where to begin."

That is until Instructable made it all come together with an "Aha" moment!

There I was at Lowe's waiting on some paint to be ready when I noticed this cart with two big pieces of wooden boards sticking out of it. I asked the lady resting on it if she was working on a big project. We began talking and she told me that she was working on making a "Welcome" and "Thanksgiving" sign. "Have you heard of instructables," I proceeded to ask her. She had not; on the spot, she decided to Google it on her phone. Within seconds she found it and proceeded to show me.

To my delight, what I saw coming from her phone screen was the answer that had been eluding me all these years: an instrucatble for a beautiful barn style baby gate. The image of it just made everything click, inspiring me to make my own gate, not for a baby but for my dog. Here is the link to the baby barn style that inspired this journey. You need to check it out. It's pretty amazing (the instuctrable for it is pretty great, but way too advanced for my skills):

Back to the story. I walked out of that Lowe's with not only the paint for my kitchen project but also with the seed for an idea -- an idea that turned into a simple, practical gate I am proud to have made with my own hands.

My final project never attempted to replicate the source of inspiration. What that original project did was give me the motivation to create a gate of my own with my own materials and level of experience.

I share with you what I did in hopes of inspiring all the novices out there looking for their own solution in keeping their pets or babies confined. Before I get to it, I want to thank my son for introducing me to this site, and for truly giving me the motivation to tackle these types of projects. This is my ever second project of this nature. Instead of throwing a bunch of wood out from the pallets my kid had collected, I have now made two projects from what used to be a pile of trash.

(You can find my kiddo's projects at

Step 1: What I Used: Materials and Tools

Here is the list of materials and tools:

  • Reclaimed wood from old wooden pallets and from an old spaced-picket wooden fence - I had the wood from a previous project so all I had to do was make sure I had enough. ( If you don't have your own, you can purchase expensive or relatively inexpensive wood. Just depends on what you want)
  • Power drill
  • Circular saw
  • Measuring tape
  • Jigsaw (only used it minimally but came in handy)
  • Deck screws (8X1.5/6") - I bought a pack for about $5 at Lowes
  • Drill bits - I had one or two bits so I ended up buying a Bosch 34-Piece screwdriver bit set for $10
  • Door hinges - I purchased the Gatehouse 3-Pack 3.5 5/8 Radius hinges for about $8
  • Steel bolt latch (if remembering correctly, I purchased the Gatehouse 4-in Steel Bolt for less than $4- Lots of options in terms of latches but this was the least expensive and the easiest to install.

  • Mini paint roller (Length 4-12/in - you can paint with a brush but found it easier and faster to use the roller.
  • Weather proofing paint (I already had the paint but you can use something else such as wood stain or any other type of suitable paint for wood)

Step 2: Step 1: Cutting and Designing

In my case, I already had the wood from a previous project. All I had to do was to make sure I had enough of it. If you don't have the wood, you can either buy or use reclaimed wood from wooden pallets.

Now, the amount of wood you will need will depend on your design and measurements. Here are some general guidelines to consider, which can help you determine the amount of wood you will need:

  • Height - determine the desired height. I have a big dog so I wanted something he could not easily jump. I ended up with the railing being 33 inches (2.75 feet). I used ten pieces of different widths for the railings.
  • Width - The width will depend on the measurement of your door frame. To get the size, from the inside of the frame where the fence door will fit, measure the distance from one end to the next. Take an inch or two off from your final measurement to cut your runners. I learned this the hard way. You want the extra space so your door can close properly. The distance of my frame is 36" and ended up with the runners at 34".
  • Gap or no gap between the railings. That is the question. Consider if you want gaps between the railings or not. As you can see, I only used minimal spacing. This was by design as I didn't want big gaps. Honestly, I had to incorporate some spacing as I was running out of wood.
  • The Z Frame - I ended up making the Z frame only because I used my backyard fence door as a model. I only learned afterward that the middle piece gives both the upper and lower horizontal beams stability, preventing the fence from sagging. So you might want to consider this as you build your fence.

Once you take all this into account, you are set to begin the fun part of the project: putting it all together.

Step 3: Assembling Your Masterpiece.

By this stage, you have gathered your wood and made all the cuts according to your measurements. You are ready. Here are generals steps you can take in building your masterpiece:

  • Sand down wood - again, this might not matter if you purchased your wood from a store, but, if you are using reclaimed wood, it might be a good idea to sand down to prevent splinters. I used an electrical circular sander to do each piece.

  • Layout the railings that will face out the way you want them to look once put together. I sorted each piece of wood out and compared how each would look like next to each other. Play around and see what you like best. Of course, this might not matter if you have purchased your wood.
  • Paint - I painted once all was put together, but you can paint each piece before assembling your project.
  • Nail or screw all the pieces together - I began by working from the outer railings at each end, making a square if you like to think of it that way. Then I proceeded to screw the rest of the railings to the runners. Once all the railings were attached, I screwed in the middle runner to complete the "Z" shape.
  • Attach hinges to the fence - You can attach the hinges to your frame door or to the fence first, depending on what you find easier. Personally, I found it easier to attach them to the fence first. I have seen fences with only two hinges. I went with 3 just to be safe as the gate is heavy and my dog is inclined to destroy things. The process is simple. Make your markings where you want the hinges to go and then screwed them in using the screws included with the hinges.
  • Attaching hinges to the door frame - Before attaching the fence to the frame door, I looked at various instructions on installing door hinges. Honestly, I did not follow the protocol of cutting a mortise on the door or the frame. Basically, I screwed in the hinges to the frame (the jamb I believe is the proper term referring to the inner part of the frame) by first marking them with a pencil where I wanted to place the hinges. Using the markings, I used a drill to make the holes. (You might find the size bit needed with the instructions included with the hinges. Also, I had to use a metal bit. So make sure you have the appropriate bit.) Once I was ready, I used a piece of extra wood (2x2) underneath the fence to bring the fence to the level of the markings. Then I just moved on to screwing the hinges to the door frame. Just as a general rule, you want your fence at least 1 inch from the floor. If you want a good resource on installing hinges, I recommend this link:
  • Attach bolt latch - Depending on the what type of latch you decide to put in, this process can be as simple as just screwing the latch plate to the fence, and then placing the receiver onto the outer frame. That was the case for me.

Honestly, the whole process was pretty simple. What helped me was looking at different models and instructables. As those sources did, I hope this instructable helps you along the way on your own project. Good luck

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    2 Discussions


    3 years ago

    very nice, since it's indoor, you could have used less expensive screws. Good job.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks. That's a good point