Thursday, February 6, 2014

How to make a Custom Built Baby Gate | DIY Project

Custom DIY baby gate
This was one of the first big projects I’ve done where I created my own plans for it, measurements, details, and then executed it and had it all work out right! 
I hand drew blueprints for this gate with all measurements and cut measurements so I could bring it with me to Lowe’s and have anything ready to go.  I took step by step pictures throughout the whole process wanting to give a GREAT detailed tutorial how I did it. 
Somehow, I’ve lost over half my images for this project (glass shattering which mimics my heart).  I’ve tried to gather a few images I’ve posted on IG and sent to my husband that I can use to help show what I did for the steps. 

I had to make a custom gate because we have a step that comes down onto the ground level that I needed to build the gate around, but still have it mount to the wall.  So my gate shape was a very mis-shaped “U”.  Here are the plans I drew out for my gate:
The height of the gate I initially wanted 36” but once I sized it up I ended up cutting off half a foot so the final piece is 30” tall.

The panels of the gate measured (for width) Front Left Panel: 15”
Gate Door: 24”
Front Right Panel 15”
Left Side Panel: 20”
Right Side Panel: 11.5”

Typical door widths are 30” however proportionally didn’t look right to make the gate door 30” so I scaled it down to 24” and still is a wide enough opening to comfortable walk through it.

For the main base of each panel I used a 4’x8’ sanded plywood that was about $25 if I remember right (unsanded would have made a lot more work for me as I wanted a smooth surface).  The sanded plywood is a few more $ than unsanded but worth it in my opinion.

I had Lowe’s cut my main section pieces for me so it was easier to transport home. First he cut the height out which as I said at that time we cut 36”.  Then he cut the width sections – 2 15” pieces, 1 24” piece, 1 20” piece, and 1 11.5” piece.
Next the wood for the decorative framing: Initially I wanted to purchase 6’ long boards that I would individually cut down to save on money.  However, the thinnest they have for whitewood full length boards is 1” and that was too thick for the look I was going for.  So I had to pick out enough precut pieces of the 24” and 36” length.  These can be found underneath the full length boards.  They’re precut and prefinished so they’re super easy and don’t need any sanding or prepping.

My shopping list for the pre-cut whitewood pieces (there is varying widths, I used the 1/2”)4 – 15”
2 – 20”
2 – 11.5”
2 – 24”

10 – 25.5” (these are the height pieces of the framing on all panels)
2 – 36” (I just bought the longest wood pieces for the two diagonal cut pieces on the door, I’m not great at geometry math and didn’t want to figure out the exact length so just go long, and cut down to fit = easier)

Those measurements aren’t including the overhang I’d have to account for on the front panels for the back side ones.  Using the 24” and 36” I cut to exact length once I had the pieces assembled to know how much to account for the overhang. Pictures later.

Then for the top trim piece to square everything off I bough a 1x2x6’ piece.
2013-12-07_1386380726Here’s where I sized everything up and decided 36” was just a little too tall so decided to cut each board down 6”.

Sanded plywood is finished just on one side and since the backside was going to be seen, at least partially, I needed to patch the holes and imperfections of the back of the pieces.  I filled all the gaps and imperfections with filler and sanded it to a smooth surface,
To create the strongest hinges between the corner pieces I used my Kreg Jigto predrill pocket holes and attach them together.  Hint: I messed up when I pre-drilled all the holes.  There are quite a few settings to always be sure, and double check, that you are setting for the right drilling.  I had it all set to the right setting except the drill bit, I had it set to an inch instead of three-quarter inch.  That threw off all my pocket holes and over drilled them.  Not the end of the world, I was able to just drill an extra set of pocket holes so I just had A LOT to fill afterwards. Measure twice – drill once. Next time Winking smile
See – lots of holes.  Oh well. I used a 90 degree clamp to hold the two pieces together while I drilled my screws in. 
Now these steps are kind of hard to show because of the pictures I lost.  Try and follow me here when I explain how I properly measured/cut the trim pieces.
First I lined up the trim piece on the Left Side panel, marked and cut.  Then I measured the Front Left panel trim so it covered the edge of the other trim piece and overlapped it.  I used liquid nails to adhere the trim pieces to the panel pieces and clamped for a few minutes to dry.  After it was set I used a nail gun and nailed each piece into place too. 
View of the side panel:DSC_0989-2
Here’s a final trimmed out shot of the Left Side Panel, and the Left Front Panel.  I could have cut the trim pieces at 45 degree angles and mitered them to have a perfect fit – but I probably would have lost my mind in that process too.  So this worked for me.   
After I had each panel set and complete, I cut the top trim piece and mitered those corners for a more finished look. 

Next was just a lot of filling seams and nail holes.  I used wood putty to fill any small nail holes. Then I used caulk to fill all the seams – and ALL of them.  (again had pictures – lost them wahh)

After all the caulk and wood putty dried I sanded it with a medium grit and wiped it clean.  Next up was just priming and then painting. 

Final step was attaching it to the wall (just used L brackets) and attaching the hinges. 
^ Extra note! I ended up cutting off half an inch from the gate door after I did everything because it wasn’t until THEN I realized the gate door can’t sit flush to the wood floor, it wouldn’t open easily.  So I cut a half inch off the bottom.  It was actually better I thought of doing it once I already had the trim piece attached otherwise had I cut the panel door first, and then attached the trim I wouldn’t have realized the trim would have sat higher than the left and right panel.  You want that trim to be a flush level, and just the entire door bottom to be cut a half inch shorter.
Here’s what I looks like from the back side.  The gate sits flush up against the stair for a tight fit.  The lock is just a simple slide lock so it’s easy for Jackson to be able to reach over to lock and unlock it himself.

Did any of that make any sense?
I hope so. 

Feel free to ask ANY questions – but hopefully you can understand the general step by step and then be able to customize it to fit to your space.
If I can do it you can!
Custom DIY baby gate

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  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!! I'm going to talk my hubby into helping me make one of these! :)

  2. THis is awesome... we registered for a baby gate and never got one... I can see Jon making his own! Great inspiration!

  3. This is just awesome!!! I passed it along to my cousin that is having a baby in June. I would love for you to share this at our Tuesdays with a Twist link party on my blog, it is going on right now. :-)

  4. Who knew baby gates could be stylish?! Very impressed with your mad design and building skills, friend! You rock!

  5. This is so great. I need one for the bottom of the stairs and this is EXACTLY what I had in mind. You have inspired me!

  6. I'm already back.. with a question. :) What type of latching hardware did you use? I can't really see it from the photos! Thank you!!


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