New Baby Gate

Ian Gagnon

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Hey everyone. It's been (yet again) a while since I posted anything. Working a whole heck of a lot right now, so not a lot of time to get into the shop. I do however have a project I've been picking away at for a while that I finished up.


The last project I posted was a custom built rabbit hutch for the 2 baby Holland Lop rabbits we got. 




Well, the babies aren't babies anymore! 




They're big fans of hanging out in the bay window and watching the world go by outside.


We've been using a pressure-fit style baby gate to block the living room off from the rest of the house for about 10 years now (our rabbit Louie who passed away in March of this year also had his cage in the living room since it's the room we spend 80% of our time in.)


I finally got sick and tired of stepping over the damn thing and figured it was time to build a nice walk-through gate.


The frame is 5/4 Poplar like the hutch because it isn't toxic to rabbits, so if they chew on it, there shouldn't be a problem. I also used the same water based finishing and Tried & True that I used on the hutch. 


The balusters in the gate are left over from when I rebuilt the front and back stairs to the house. Figured it was time I put the leftovers to good use.


Here's everything laid out after milling was complete to check the layouts of the tenons and the basic dimensions. I had drilled the holes for the balusters first because those could be the biggest problem in the gate being built square. Once all of those holes were drilled and everything dropped in nice and straight, it was much easier to layout the 6 mortise and tenon joints.




I then cut the mortise and tenons for the rails that hold the balusters in place. With that done and the joints tight and square I could move on to the top of the gate. I then cut the joinery for the top section, leaving it square. Once the joints seated clean and square, I could begin to work on the shape of the top of the gate.




With everything lined up properly, I found a profile for the top of the gate that I liked, cut it on the bandsaw and refit.


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So far, so good! With the basic shape in place I began to plane the frame down to make sure everything was nice and flush as well as started rounding all of the edges. 








With that done and looking how I wanted it, it was time for another dry fit with the balusters in place.  Here are some shots of the dry fit going back together so you can see the joinery.








Some of the joints look a little loose in that last shot since it was all dry fit and there weren't any clamps on it. With just a touch of pressure everything lined up and seated nicely.


I disassembled it and re-ran the dry fit doing all the clamping I would do for glue-up at the same time as well. I'm a big fan of doing a dry run of assembly with clamps and everything before actually doing the glue-up. Saves you from getting stuck in a bad spot while glue is drying.


Once it was glued up, it was time for finish and then to get hung up! The gate can be lifted off the hinge pins if you need to remove it for any reason. I also built the latch so that the gate can be opened in either direction, which is handy when you're either trying to keep the little ones in the living room, or trying not to push them out of the way with the gate. The latch doesn't have the knobs on it yet, but that will be coming in a few days once I have some time off.


Sorry for the grainy shots. It wasn't very bright in the house when I hung it, so the camera is trying to make heads or tails of things. The color is a little off in the picture, but you definitely get the idea!




Well. It turned out about how I wanted! If I was to build it again, there are a couple of things that I would do differently, but all-in-all not too shabby.


Hope you enjoyed the pictures and writeup!



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Ian, Welcome back and I do remember the thread. The bunny house looked fantastic and the bunnies and the story behind them was cool.  Well the bunnies I see are no longer bunnies, they're beautiful.


And what's with you gate guys, first Terry started his (to be finished in the near future I hope) and then Deefste's working on some neat ideas and then you come up with yours. You guys are amazing. When I think of gates, I...... well, I'll think differently in the future, but I'm sure mine will never hold a candle to y'alls.


Good job :D


I just have to ask, what's to keep those fellas from chewing thru the gate? Just wondering :rolleyes:

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If they wanted to chew through it, I'm sure they could, but it would be a long-term Shawshank Redemption style undertaking. Hahahaha. 


Usually you can control what they chew on by providing them with enough attractive looking options like cardboard boxes, wicker baskets, etc. It's only when they get bored that they'll go for the woodwork, but they will from time to time. Kind of comes with the territory.

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Looks great, nice style and craftsmanship.

I have a project in my back pocket that requires some similar work and i am wondering how you went about it. The rounding pf the edges on the inside corners. When you router those are the pieces put together to get a continuos flow throughout the corner or do you have to router each piece seperately?

Thanks and nice job.


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Looks great, nice style and craftsmanship.

I have a project in my back pocket that requires some similar work and i am wondering how you went about it. The rounding pf the edges on the inside corners. When you router those are the pieces put together to get a continuos flow throughout the corner or do you have to router each piece seperately?

Thanks and nice job.



I started doing the round overs by hand with a rasp, but my work schedule was so busy I knew I didn't have the time to do the entire thing by hand at that point, so it was time to employ some half and half hybrid work!


I dry fit the gate without the balusters then clamped it up making sure the joints were flat and square. I then went over the complete gate with a round over bit in my router, stopping just shy of the corners to avoid tearout and to make sure I didn't end up ruining the profile of the corners. I then went back in with my rasps/files/sandpaper and worked the inside and outside corners by hand as well as went over the whole thing by hand to make sure all the transitions were smooth. Then when I took the clamps off to disassemble it for the dry run with the balusters in, it was already basically complete. When the glue up was done, I just did a small tweak here or there.


Man, that looks incredible.

How upset are you going to be when I total steal your design for that baby gate and build one that looks just like it?


Steal away! Honestly, I didn't put much thought into the shape ahead of time. I knew the space I had to work in, rough dimensions and basic assembly. Then as I built I did the old "let the wood tell me what it wants to do." Hahahaha. There are some pretty cool open knots and spalting around the top of the gate that I saw in the material as I laid it out. Some of the choices I made were simply to make sure I could leave a bit of that in for personality.


Next order of business, a new coffee table!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Sorry for being late to the party, super nice job Ian!


What did you use for finish?  Did that cause any issues with the (i assume) metal bars?

The bars are powder coated aluminum. So the finish didn't really cause an issue. I avoided getting any finish on them (as best I could) during finishing, and any the did get on cleaned up easily with some mineral sprits once the finish was dry.


That is actually one of the things that I would have changed if I did it again. I would have had the holes for the balusters go all the way through the bottom of the gate so they could be loaded in after finishing. Perhaps cut a long mortice in the bottom that I could fit a plug to in order to fill the space. It would be on the bottom and wouldn't be visible, but it would have been a nice change to the design. Or pre finish more.

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