DIY Baby and Dog Gate Instructions

diy baby and dog gate tutorial

Update, 5/2014: a couple of people have mentioned having trouble finding the upgraded latch that we used, so I thought I’d make the search a bit easier :). It’s a “Gatehouse sliding patio door latch,” available at Lowe’s for $4.72. One person mentioned in the comments that it’s pretty easy to find at hardware stores as long as you ask for a “sliding door latch.” Here’s a similar (identical?) one on Amazon (affiliate link)…the 2 1/2 inch one.

Special guest blogger today! Dave! The baby gate he made a few months ago is one of my most viewed and most pinned posts. Sadly, when people view it, they see some cruddy pictures of the gate and….no real information about how to make it. We’ve been meaning to get the how to make it post up for forever now. The other day someone finally commented on the post to ASK how to make it, and that was, it turns out, just the motivation Dave needed to make some pretty diagrams and write it up. So here you go!

Many moons ago, Gretchen posted about a baby gate that I made to keep dogs (mostly Gable) out of the kitchen.  You can read about it here.

Every couple weeks, she asks me when I’m going to write out the instructions on how I built it.  But because I never really considered it complete, and because I’m a big procrastinator, it hasn’t gotten done until now.  It’s been 95% complete since October, but the hook and eye latch we bought to keep it locked never really worked.  Any toddler would be able to shake the gate with his tiny fists and pop the hook out of the eye.  For that matter, any moderately curious or determined dog could do the same.  Fiesta the Beagle is one such dog.  Fortunately, Gable the Dopey is not.  While he’s a big enough problem dog to require us to build a specialty gate to keep him out of the kitchen, he’s a dog of routine and appreciates having his own sun room retreat during eating times.  But with a new baby in the house, I knew we would need something a little more secure in the future, so I finally found a suitable latching device.  So now I can explain the whole process.  Lucky you!

So the reason we needed a custom-built gate is because the doorway is crazy narrow, specifically 26.25 inches.  It was formerly part of the kitchen bay window, but was opened up to a do-it-yourself addition of a sunroom by some previous owner.  Since no commercially available gates come in sizes so tiny, I set to work on plans of my own.  The Home Depot had these super cheap untreated 2×2 pine posts – so I bought enough of these to make the following gate:

dog gate diagram

So in case you don’t know, lumber measurements don’t actually match their name.  If you buy a 2×2 post, you’d think that you’re getting 2 inch by 2 inch posts.  Nope.  It’s actually 1.5 inch by 1.5 inch posts.  That means that the skinny dimension of each of those rectangles is 1.5 inches, in case you’re keeping track.

The vertical dark gray 2x2s are 35 inches long.  This is the height of the gate and is completely customize-able.  I think I picked that height because it meant I had minimal leftover wood.  It’s pretty tall for a gate, but Gable is a pretty big dog, so it works out.  The horizontal light grays are 22.25 inches long.  Add the 1.5 inches on each side for the vertical posts and you get a total gate width of 25.25 inches.  “But Dave, you said the doorway is 26.25 inches wide.  Why is the gate 1 inch too narrow?”  More on that in a moment.  Since the vertical brown 2x2s are contained within the horizontal posts, they needed to be 3 inches shorter than the exterior vertical dark grays, so they come in at 32 inches a piece.

After careful measuring, remeasuring, conferring with Gretchen, and measuring again, I sliced up the posts using the Skil saw and sanded all the pieces with the power sander.  I used fourteen 2-inch deck screws to attach all the pieces together.  I was either smart enough or made enough mistakes in the past to know that if predrilling was important to avoid splitting such narrow pieces of wood.  So each light gray post got five screw holes and each dark gray post got two.  If I were smarter or had made more mistakes in the past, I would have used wood glue as well.  While the screws were holding the posts in place, they made for a nice point of rotation for each of the brown posts.  Instead of taking everything apart to add the glue, I decided to use some finishing nails hammered at 45 degrees to create more points of connection between the light gray and brown.  While that worked OK, the hammering jarred the alignment off on some of the posts.  So you can feel the not-flush adjoining on some of the posts.  It bothers me literally every day of my life.

Now that the gate was complete, I had to attach it to the doorway.  I didn’t want the hinge screws to go directly into the drywall (there is no wooden door frame as there was never a door there) because I didn’t think that would hold the test of time and dogs and boys.  So instead, I used some more wood – this time 1×2 (so in actuality 0.75 inches by 1.5 inches) – cut to the length of the gate height.  More predrilling and deck screws attaching this new piece to the exact middle of the 6 inch wide drywall, and I was ready to attach the two hinges into nice sturdy wood.  This is, by the way, where the extra 1 inch of width came from.  The 0.75 for the wood, and the rest for the hinges and for a little leeway on the other side of the gate.

Speaking of the other side of the gate, there needed to be some sort of door stop to prevent the gate from getting pulled past where the hinges and hinge screws wanted to go.  So I used another 1×2 board and attached it to the other side of the doorway.  This time, it wasn’t exactly in the middle because I wanted to allow the gate to close flush with the first 1×2.  Maybe this diagram can explain better than words.

aerial view of dog gate

This is an aerial view – the light and dark grays are the top of the gate (color coded!) and the green and purple pieces are the hinge board and the door stop respectively.  While the first diagram is to scale, I had to shorten the width of the gate in this one in order to show the relevant details without making a crazy long image.  If this diagram really were to scale, the doorway would be a little more than one foot wide, which is just crazy.  In real life, the doorway is a little more than TWO feet wide.

So all of this worked great, except for the previously mentioned battle with the hook and eye.  We tried various configurations and angles to try to make it more secure without much success.  It got to the point where the hole the hook screwed into was so stripped that we would routinely find the hook lying somewhere on the floor.  In fact, I looked for the hook just today and was unable to find it.  What good timing that I finally bought a latch that will work!

Old system:

gate with no latch

The new latch:

The new latch installed!

This should work great for two significant reasons.  One, the “hook” part goes deep into the “eye” part, so it won’t jiggle out with excessive toddler fists or beagle paws.  Two, each piece is attached by four screws into wood (the gate for the hook, the doorstop for the eye).  This should really stay put.  Oh, it’s worth noting that my previously mentioned smarts and/or experience took a hiatus when I screwed this latch into place.  I did not predrill screw holes and there are now small cracks in the wood that I hope will stay small.  This will likely bother me literally every single day for many years to come … or until the gate breaks.


Linking with:
Sunday Showcase Party at Under the Table and Dreaming
Tutorials and Tips at Home Stories A to Z
Stone Gable’s Tutorials, Tips, and Tidbits
Hookin’ Up With House of Hepworths
The Inspiration Gallery
The Shabby Nest’s Frugal Friday
Tatertots and Jello Weekend Wrap-Up Party
Monday Funday


DIY Baby and Dog Gate Instructions — 45 Comments

  1. Ok so this so beats the yucky plastic ones and the cold metal ones as well! Great work here lady!!! I think I can do this one as my 5 month old is already displaying signs that she wants to get moving….I am not prepared!

  2. I love love love it! I’ve been anxiously waiting for you to post the tutorial and I’m happy to report that I think I MIGHT be able to make this with my limited (read: nonexistent) carpentry skills. I’ll let you know if I succeed. I have a very barky bulldog/beagle who is permanently banned from the living room lest he spend his entire life barking out the front window. Replacing my ugly plastic baby gate is top priority!

  3. I’m going to have to show this to my husband! We have such a problem with baby gates because our builders accidentally made our stairs too wide, which means we have to buy the super expensive gates in order to get them wide enough & pressure mounted. However, our yorkie squeezes right through most of them! lol 🙂

    • We’ll be doing a gate for our stairs soon, too….before the 2 month old starts climbing them! Let me know how it turns out if you do one for yours 🙂 thanks for stopping by!

  4. I built one tonight except I had to go with 1″x2″ because of a narrow doorway. This lead to some splitting of the wood even with pre-drilling. I also used a jigsaw for my cuts and some of the ends were uneven. I tried sanding by hand but couldn’t get them evened out. With all that being said I built a 47″ tall gate for $12. Can’t beat the price. I may make another in the future. Could you explain how you determine the slat spacing? Mine ended up uneven.

  5. Thank you, Dave! I stumbled on the original post while researching the possibility of making a gate. I was happy to find these instructions. My dad and I made my gate yesterday. I raise and train German Shepherds and foster rescue dogs, so most of the commercially available pet/baby gates look really cute with a little Shih Tzu dog, but aren’t going to hold a young, high drive, working-bred adolescent German Shepherd still learning important house manners 🙂 We sometimes have guests for dinner or even extended stays who do not like dogs or are not used to living with large working dogs, so I typically block my dogs in the basement and have always wanted a more permanent gate solution. This gate is great, and cost a fraction of what I would have paid to try one from Target or Amazon. We also have a somewhat narrow doorway and also have a very narrow pass-through that we use as an open-ended back hall closet for shoes and dog leashes. My current puppy likes to run off with shoes and chew the laces, so the nice thing about this gate is that when it’s “open”, it actually latches across the pass-through doorway and keeps him away from the shoes (we had been using a normal baby get just set in that doorway and it was getting knocked over several times a day as the dogs went in/out the back door). I basically used the materials and measurements given (adjusted to the width of our doorway). My dad made a few modifications like using brackets on one side to keep it square. I still need to prime and paint. In fact all the trim in this back hallway is really banged up and hasn’t been dealt with since we moved in, so I’ll be giving everything a fresh coat. I’ll also be using a different latch that what is described here. I already installed a hook-and-eye latch which holds the gate “open” (blocks the shoes).

    • Thanks so much for the comment; it’s great to hear that the gate instructions were helpful! Hope your gate works out well for you….ours has been up for well over a year now, and it’s still working great (and we have a toddler who likes to slam it closed repeatedly as a hobby now, so it’s taken a beating!)

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  7. I too benefited from your tutorial!! I actually made 4 of these for our tiny home & couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it sooner!! =) Thank you for the inspiration! We have a 1935’s cracker box house with 23″ doorways! (Yes INTERIOR doorways!)

    — Just some quick notes/references for your readers —
    …the latch is a sliding door latch & fairly common if you are asking for the right thing 😉 (it took 3 hardware stores & hours of internet searches to find the “proper” name lol)
    …if you do not have the ability to cut down your own wood (or no way to haul the 8′ pieces) get/have your measurements (as you mention) and the home improvement store will cut the pieces down for you!
    …Also a handy way for figuring out how many “slats” you need, is figure out how much space you want between the slats/bars (include the 1.5″ of the wood slat itself) & divide the total distance by that amount. Viola!

    • The latch part? I’m not sure, but I don’t think so….I only saw it in this color when I was looking it up on the website.

  8. Thanks so much for posting this tutorial! I have a 27″ doorway that I need to make this exact kind of gate up for. 🙂

      • I provided a photobucket link, thanks again, it turned out great!!!!

        Here’s some info for other’s whom may read this post. We have a 1925 home that is settling, so we have many uneven areas, most notable in the doorways. So my first attempt with “exact” measurements had to be changed/ decreased to accommodate. Used 2×2 furring strips x4 boards, cost me less than $7. And $8 for the hardware. Had to buy star drive deck screws ($10) (first time around used philips wood screws which were terrible for this kinds of project and stripped like crazy). Also my 2×2’s were 1 3/8″ instead of 1 1/2″, so that changed things a little to. I plan on redoing this gate when we eventually remodel our kitchen and making it about .25-.50 inches longer, so for now I decided not to paint it since I know I’ll just have to take it out at a later date, especially to install flooring. The Cat door which I added to the design is 9″ tall by 8″ wide…I had to increase from the original planned 7″ because out cats are huge.

        Next up making one for the kids bedroom which can only fits a cheap wooden pressure gate to keep our dog Shadow out from chewing all the toys. We have 3 black cats, 1 dog, and 2 kids (4+12)…gates are needed in our home. LOL

        Made: Pet / Baby Swing Gate with a Cat Door, 26.75″ x 43″.

  9. This is a great tutorial, you did a nice job on the detailed instructions and I love the latch. I used a sliding glass door pin on my first dog gate but I will definitely use a sliding door latch on my next one/two. I only have two more to go to keep our dog and the grand-dog in their respective spaces and the house at peace. Not to mention everyone safe by not climbing over plastic baby gates. Thanks for sharing!

  10. I made one of these for my dogs some years ago to keep them in the kitchen. I used a café/saloon door type hinge (see Gatehouse 2-1/2-in Polished Brass Entry Door Hinge at and used a barrel bolt latch to keep it closed. Still in great working order 12 years later!

  11. Thanks so much. I’ve got a 24″ door into my bathroom where I want to move my cat box to. This should work great and I think I can pre-drill and use the door jamb for the latch mount. I’ll also plan on adding a small opening for the cat.

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  13. We have a Finnish Spitz that jumps like a billy goat – so after trying all the store bought gates out there, it’s time to build a gate that he can’t jump over. Thanks for sharing your great experience!!

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