Monthly Archives: March 2018

Hacking child barriers

This post contains no electronics or software, just woodwork.

Our house is full of traps for the inquisitive toddler. There’s cat food and litter, an office full of sharp tools, a fireplace, and most tricky of all, a staircase descending from the corner of the living room guarded only by a coffee-table-height shelf.

Fortunately, there is a handy range of wooden barriers available from various sellers on (search for ‘bramka’ or ‘barierka’ to get started). It’s a sort of modular barrier system, with a basic unit 91cm wide, though other widths are available. The sections screw together with plastic couplings that allow them to hinge. Wall mounting brackets and feet are available, as are sections with a child-proof gate built in. They’re cheap and simple enough that hacking them for specific jobs is easy and worthwhile.

Here’s a set across the end of the living room, protecting the fireplace and cat flap to the garden. These are almost freestanding, but tied to the bannisters at one end with string and blu-tacked to the floor by the window.


The steps up to the office are guarded by these two sections. I added the cat flap in one of them so that the cats can get to their food and litter tray.


The stairs down from the living room are guarded by another hacked set of barriers, cut to length and with an aperture provided for our eldest son’s favourite bookshelves.


I used the leftover upper and lower rails from the segment I’d cut down in length to make a rail to hold the ends of the uprights above the bookshelves. There’s a join in the middle done with one of the plastic hinge pieces and a not inconsiderable amount of wood glue.

The barrier is held up using zip ties through plastic corner blocks screwed to the underside of the wooden shelf top, so the screw holes won’t show when we eventually remove it. Felt pads on its feet stop it scratching the wooden floor.