This blog entry is starting to lose its timeliness, but... :)
When staying at my parents' place this Christmas, I noticed there was no baby gate for my parents' slate staircase. There had been when I was a kid, but it had long since been given away.
Since there were three little kids, aged fifteen to seventeen months (IIRC) wandering around, I thought it was an important project. It would have been faster and easier to just buy a store-made one, but for two reasons: (1) Since my parents didn't want any permanent attachments to the house, most ''off-the-shelf'' solutions wouldn't suffice; and it had to be easy to open and close, or else adults get lazy and tend to step over the baby gate -- which is actually very risky, and (ironically!) a cause of accidents.
The basic concept is a U-shaped frame, of which the bottom cross-piece is a sheet of plywood which connects the two vertical ends. The gate is hung between the two vericals. One vertical is held in place by a hook that connects to the stair rail hardware; the other vertical is held by a simple clamp to the brick planter.
It took several days and evenings during the two weeks(?) I worked on it. It was my vision (i.e. the design). My brother helped me for the first day or two, but then he had to go back home. Except for the power drill, and a few cuts with an electric chop saw by my brother, it was all made with hand tools.
Unfortunately, it didn't get completely finished: my dad didn't have an appropriate latch in his box o' hinges and hardware; and I'd like my brother to linseed oil it, and glue on some strips of felt to protect the walls from scuffing. But, it turned out pretty well, given that I limited myself to using available scrap pieces of timber -- and that I made no conceptual drawings or sketches, just piecing it out as I went.
This shot is looking up the stairs at it. The vertical, pale two-by-four on the left is where half of the ''bolt'' hardware will be mounted; the dark brown bit will have the slidey section of the bolt. Notice, too, how the horizonatal two-by-two that I used to connect the two sheets of wood also serves as a clever impediment to youngsters reaching over the top and unlatching the latch. The sliding bolt will be on this side of the gate, an inch or two below the top two-by-two.
This next shot is from the upstairs hallway, with the gate opened. As I had hoped, when the gate is open there's just enough forwards sag caused by its weight to keep it open. Handy! The plywood piece at the top left, sticking out like a flag, is where the clamp would hold it to the face of the brick planter.
This shot shows the other vertical. There's not a lot of contrast, but if you look closely you can see the horizontal piece, which is on a hing, that has been dropped down over the brass handrail hardware. As mentioned, this holds this side of the famework in place, yet is easy to remove.
And, this is what it looks like from the top of the stairs, closed. Again, you can hopefully envision how the piece of wood (top left) could be clamped to the face of the brickwork.
Again, works really well -- just drop, hook, clamp! :)
It'll be there for when my brother and his kid visit, or for any future grandkids! :)