**Update: We’ve had this gate for nearly two years and it’s still going strong. I hope you enjoy this tutorial! xo, Sarah**
Mister’s first birthday is around the corner and I’m not emotional at all. I definitely don’t flip through newborn photos and ugly cry as he begins to look more like a toddler and less like a baby. Sniffle. He is living up to his lofty name. Crawling speed has increased to 50 mph and he is minutes from walking. He also has no regard for gravity and the stairs that now seem like a death trap. It’s time for a baby gate.
I fell in love with the barn door style. It has a rustic charm that also suits a wider hallway. The best part is the versatility. This project can be done using almost any kind of wood, even free pallet boards or other reclaimed materials. We used cedar fencing board that was bought on the cheap from our local hardware store.
Dave’ mechanical engineering-ness came in handy during the planning process. He drew this preliminary sketch and I was sold.
The plan called for three “layers,” as you can see from the exploded view. You’ll sandwich and screw these guys together, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Here’s where the math comes in to determine how to fit the gate to the specific width of your hallway. As complicated as it looks, it’s pretty basic arithmetic, and I’ll break it down.
Let’s do a sample gate. Suppose your hallway is 44 inches wide (w) and you want the top of the gate to be 34 inches high (h). As shown above, by factor (g2), you want to subtract a half-inch from each of the walls to allow the gate to open and close and attach to the anchor boards. In this case:
- 44 inches wide-1 inch-1 inch=42 inches wide (w)
As for height, you need to measure and subtract the height of your baseboards (usually three inches) and subtract another inch for good measure. You’ll install the gate above your baseboards, so the desired height will be exactly what you want. For example:
- 34 inches-3-inch baseboards-1-inch allowance=30 inches high (h)
Based on these measurements, you’ll need:
- Board A: Four fencing boards measuring 42 inches wide (w)
- Board B: Four fencing boards measuring 30 inches high (h)
Boards A and B build the square frame, and C Boards (#) fill the interior. The height of Boards C is the overall height of your gate; 30 inches in this case. To calculate how many boards you’ll need (#) to span the interior, divide the total gate width by the vertical width of each individual board (5 inches for fencing boards.) So:
- 42 inches overall width (w) /5= 8 2/5 boards (#). This means that you’ll need 9 boards total, with one board’s vertical width cut down to two inches to account for the 2/5 remainder.
For our example, you’d need:
- Board C: Nine fencing boards measuring 30 inches long. Eight boards are the standard five inches wide. The remaining board’s width must be cut down (vertically) to three inches.
The final pieces, Boards D, are the diagonal boards that give the gate its barn door look. The hubs went down the trigonometry rabbit hole with this one, and we’re not gonna follow. A simple way to get the cuts you need are to buy boards hat longer than the diagonal of your assembled gate, hold them in place, mark the angle, and cut. In our case, the finished pieces were:
- Board D: Two fencing boards measuring 38.6 inches long (cut on the angle).
Did you enjoy your 7th grade math lesson? I’m so glad junior high is over (for many reasons). Okay, now it’s time to assemble. Once you’ve cut your boards, spend some time sanding them down until they are soft and splinter-free.
The gate looks the same from both sides thanks to the sandwiching we’re about to do. Start by laying down two A Boards and placing the C Boards on top. Once they are lined up, use small nails on the top and bottom of each board to attach them. Flip the whole thing over and attach the other A Boards to the opposite side. Attach the B Boards by positioning them between the A Boards and screwing them in. You can also use screws to reinforce your A and C attachments. The final step is attaching your diagonal D Boards, also with wood screws. In a few hours, you’ll have the most beautiful baby gate in all the land!
Dave did an amazing job. While not necessary, we decided to stain the gate with some tung oil to bring out the knots and natural grains. You can buy 8 oz. for $9.99 on Etsy.
After each side dried for 24 hours, the result was a rich and gorgeous finish.
Attaching the gate in the hallway required a few materials:
- A cordless drill
- A level
- A stud finder
- #10 2 ½ inch screws: $7.98 for 1lb box
- Two fencing hinges: $3.94 a pair
- A standard barrel latch: $2.97
- Spare boards to use as anchors (1/2 inch deep)
The gate weighed a whopping 37 pounds, and supporting the weight meant using a wall stud. Dave located its center before screwing the anchor board into the wall. We attached the hinges to the gate and used a level to make sure it was even before screwing the hinges into the anchor board and directly into the stud.
We installed the latch on the gate before attaching another anchor board to the opposite wall with its mate piece. And voila, two days’ worth of prep later, we have a beautiful and functional gate to ensure baby safety!
Mister now has full access to the playroom and the center hall of the second floor. It’s also a safe distance from the death trap stairs, which makes this Mama very happy.
DIY parenting for the win!
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